Women entrepreneurs - challenges and opportunities for improvement

The field is not even between women and men in the world of work. There is a gap that responds to gender stereotypes, the way in which paid and unpaid work is distributed, a traditional labor structure, among other factors that affect the advancement of women in leadership positions, as well as their participation in certain industries. This is a global phenomenon that has a great echo in Latin American countries.

In the case of Uruguay, women barely occupy 10% of managerial positions and only 4% are on the boards of directors of business chambers, according to a report prepared by Uruguay XXI.

Fortunately, there is growing awareness of the need to embrace diversity, including gender diversity, if we want sustainable development, unleash its economic potential and respond to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including talent shortages. But there is certainly much to be done.

In that struggle to break ´techos from cristal´ or ´paredes from concreto´, women must also overcome internal barriers, ranging from over-perfectionism, to strengthening self-confidence or overcoming the famous ´síndrome from impostor´, as well as stopping decaffeinating our achievements. We also need mentors, sponsors and powerful networks to facilitate the professional or business path.

In the last workshop for women entrepreneurs and exporters organized on August 8 by Uruguay XXI I had the opportunity to review with a participatory audience the role of social skills in strengthening their business strategies.

Negotiation, leadership and strategic influence and social capital and networking are some of the powerful tools to promote the advancement of women in their entrepreneurial path.

Do you know how to negotiate?

Silence, doubt or great security were experienced by the attendees when asked about their performance as negotiators. Some are skilled in negotiation, but others, I include myself, we can still continue to improve to be champions on that battlefield.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Prepare yourself. Information is power, so the more preparation you have about what you are going to negotiate, the more elements you will have to build a richer and therefore positive negotiation for you and your counterpart.

2. Expect the unexpected. Although the previous stage is key, there will be occasions when you will have to add new elements to ´toma and daca´ and navigate in new waters. Your adaptability and creativity will be put to the test.

3. Build your BAFTA. BAFTA is a Best Alternative for a Negotiated Agreement, or in other words, the alternatives you build to the possibility that a particular agreement may not work. The more customer or buyer alternatives you have, for example, the better for your business because you will be free to choose the best option.

4. It's a process, not a career. Several conversations or meetings may be necessary to reach a successful agreement or sale. Stand up, analyze and advance to the conclusion of the negotiation.

5. Add value. Finally, always add value to your counterpart. Identify the different elements involved in the negotiation, be clear about your point of indifference as well as where you can be creative to offer more value to your client or counterpart. It's about win-win and building medium- and long-term relationships.

Leader of the 21st century

Leadership in the 21st century, in my view, means for women to respond to a global vision, to be a resilient, inclusive leader, to grow in business and as a person, to respond to digitization and technological challenges, and to maintain a social commitment.

The challenge is important because Sororian leaders are also required to pave the way for others so that we close the gender gap more quickly than the 170 years indicated by the World Economic Forum.

Likewise, it is indispensable that current leaders occupy spaces in business and decision-making chambers and have strategic influence because diversity is profitable and because from those positions they can level the playing field for more women. Mónica Flores, current president of Manpower Group LATAM, is a clear example of this successful and visionary work.

Powerful social capital

How much time do you invest in strengthening your social capital or network, expanding your impact in your industry and enriching yourself from other perspectives?

Mayra Gonzalez, CEO of Nissan Mexico, another admirable and very capable woman, followed the advice of one of her mentors in her brilliant career: devote 30 minutes a day to enriching her network of contacts. Mayra's performance, results and social skills made her the first woman to hold that position since 2016.

Women are a powerful and vibrant force for economic growth, a talent willing to participate in the spaces of private, public or social life. We are diversity and wealth. Let us unleash their potential if we want to be competitive, coherent and responsible today and in the future.

The experience of working with Uruguayan women and learning more about their challenges and perspectives was wonderful. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Perla Buenrostro Rodríguez

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