To celebrate International Women’s Day, I sat down for a ‘virtual roundtable’ with three of Causeway’s new executive hires to get their thoughts on this important occasion.
As leaders in the tech and construction space, these inspiring women are in unique positions to offer insights into how far we have come and how far we still need to go.
In our last of our three articles, we speak about the past years’ challenges and some unexpected positives before offering their advice on progressing in the workplace.
Chief Operating Officer
|Emily Xiao Fu
Head of Acquisitions
Marketing Campaigns Manager
It’s been an unusual 12 months, with COVID, lockdown and being Mothers in the shift to remote working. What are the significant challenges that you’ve faced?
Rachael: “It’s been a real sore point at home. We’re in the middle of home-schooling and there is a natural guilt that comes with that.
Guilt when you’re not working because you’re figuring out some math with your child. Guilt at the other end of the scale because there are days on end that you don’t engage. Work takes over. It’s a double-edged sword.
In other ways it’s been amazing to have that work/life blend and to be able to be part of each other’s lives more – I'm sure many of you may have seen my children in the background of teams calls and that’s a fantastic evolution. Workplaces that recognise that everyone has a family life and its ok to not have them cleanly separated.”
Emma: “I think there is a positive side to it. I’m quite passionate about Nia understanding why I work. I don’t do it because I have to; it’s because I enjoy it and Nia seeing me in action is a great thing.
So, while home-schooling has been challenging, and she desperately wants to come into this room all the time asking, “have you finished work yet Mummy.” There is something nice about her seeing what I do.
Nia will stand next to me when I’m not on the call asking, “what are you doing Mummy, oh, are you doing slides,” and I’ll explain what I’m trying to do, and she’ll say, “I think that’s very good,” and give me feedback. She clearly doesn’t fully understand because she is eight, but she’s also not daft. She does learn something.
Occasionally, she’ll pop on a call to say “hi” when I wave her in. I think it’s good for people to see me as human and that’s something that COVID brought. It wouldn’t be possible in my office. Here I am, juggling stuff and here is my child. It’s quite normal, and it’s good for people to see it.”
Emily: “My kid is still very young, just three years old, but I want her to think she is free to do anything she wants, like when I grew up. Regardless of whether she wants to be a doctor, lawyer or President. Whatever she wants. There are no boundaries and there is no ceiling for you. Just go for it. This mentality is vital for future generations.
My daughter wants to be a doctor, probably because of cartoons she enjoys, and she watches her mum work hard. I think she will get a positive influence. She can do whatever she wants to do, and the sky is the limit.”
That leads smoothly to my last question. There is a new generation of women starting careers and more trying to climb the ladder now right now. What advice would you give them?
Rachael: “Develop your network early, pay it forward and help each other. Like Emma said, earlier in our careers, most women had fought so hard to get there. But you wouldn’t see these women pull up others like men would with their network.
I would say to women starting now, pay attention to that early and develop your critical group of professional friends because they will stay with you for your whole career in one way or another.”
Emma: “That’s great advice. Own the choices you make and don’t apologise. As women, we tend to apologise too many anyway, and I think I did too much in my early career.
Don’t seek permission. Sometimes you just have to crack on and ask for forgiveness if it goes wrong. Own your choices without regretting or resenting them at all. Recognise that sometimes you do have to do what’s right for you.
“In the broader context of your family. We all need our own time, as well as being the right people at home. So, own your choices.”
Emily: “My first recommendation is not to repeat my mistake. Where you feel the pressure to fit in and become someone different. Stay true to yourself. If you cannot do that, then think, “Is this the right thing to do? Is this the right place for me to stay?”
My second is not specific to young women but to everyone. It’s essential to keep our knowledge and skills up to date by learning different and new things. I changed jobs and also switched sectors, so I saw how crucial it can be when progressing.
When I look back on my career and experiences, I can connect the dots to who I am now. Be brave and embrace different challenges. Together, we will build an excellent environment for our future generations. We all have the responsibility to do that.”
That’s it! Thank you for reading this series on International Women’s Day and how Causeway’s new senior hires feel about equality in the workplace and diversity and inclusion as a whole. I hope you found it as enjoyable and educational as I have.