Curveballs have been a part of work since the very beginning. Some of those curveballs are huge – the steam engine, email, autonomous vehicles- others smaller, but still packing a punch- a resignation, a tube strike, a last-minute request with a 60-minute turnaround time.
Cognizant's Women Empowered committee brought together four of our fiercest female leaders to discuss success in the modern world of work, and one of the questions I couldn't wait to ask (lucky for me, I was moderating the discussion so got dibs on the first question): How do we stay resilient through all the curveballs- big and small.
A woman who certainly knows, and admits that she considers them an enjoyablepart of the job, is our Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Amy Schuh.
"You don't have to know all the answers; you do have to know the person who does know, and how to get the best out of them. You have to have the confidence to say, "let me put a pin in this, think it through and come back to you"." Amy Schuh
Confidence was a word that cropped up time and time again throughout our conversation. The word has developed a bad rep over time, too often associated with arrogance. The kind of confidence we are talking about here comes, instead, from self-worth. Stephanie Higgins, Chief Privacy and Data Ethics Officer, said it best -
"Know your worth. Have faith and confidence in the value that you bring." Stephanie Higgins
When you are confident in the value that you bring, you are committed to finding the best person for the task at hand. You don't panic when that's not you, you don't try to know-it-all.
In our paper, 21 Jobs of the Future, we explored three capabilities to keep you employed throughout the next 10 years: Coaching, Connecting and Caring. Connecting and collaborating with others is the cornerstone of success for businesses in the future of work, because it is through this collaboration that ideation and ultimately innovation is born.
Connection works best- be it in a meeting, a brainstorming session, by the water cooler- when the mix of people interacting are diverse. 'Creative abrasion' is a concept that describes the innovation and ideation that occurs as a result of multiple perspectives coming together to solve problems. It's the smartest way to get work done. (For more on this topic, see the publication 'Closing the Gender Gap is Good For Business' from Carol Cohen and Doug Ready at MIT Sloan Management Review.)
But every one of us struggles to break out of our comfort zones, to catch ourselves turning to the same person for advice/ wisdom/ ideas as we did last time. We have to get comfortable branching out.
One top tip from our discussion was to make sure that every room you're in has balanced representation to ensure creative abrasion. Make sure every course, meeting or project is balanced against corporate goals. And be prepared to raise it if it's not.
"Giving women a seat at the table is a key part of our global strategy in levelling the playing field and increasing diversity in our pipeline. If you see programs with very few women being nominated, have the confidence to raise it." Carol Cohen, SVP, HR
Of course, this isn't just an individual's responsibility. The culture of an organisation has to not only promote diversity, but foster inclusion and belonging. The workforce has to be empowered to speak up when it feels a bit too much like an old boys' club and not enough like a modern, forward-focused, powerful organisation.
"It's not just about the specifics of what an individual has to do to succeed. It's about the environment, the culture that they're working in. We have to find places where it's the norm to band together- to meet more people, to learn from others. To collectively grow and develop." Claire Molloy, Head of Human Resources, UK & Ireland
For more food-for-thought, check out our collection: Making Room: Reflections on Diversity & Inclusion in the Future of Work
If you want to learn more about our Women Empowered community, find more information here.