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Job Interviews & Sexual Harassment

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Are you kidding me? Men too can apply for this job? I think I won’t have a chance competing with a man. He was dressed so professional and he probably has a lot of experience. Maybe he knows the interviewer already… As my previous manager always said:

“Everybody knows that you have a different purpose in life and that is not working full-time.”

“Women of your age should be thinking about marriage and kids.”

Maybe he was right… maybe I shouldn’t think about making a career, but more about starting a family…!

No no! I should stop this negative thinking! I am willing to invest in my future and I do want to make a career. Oh no… What if the person I am having an interview with is a guy? He probably thinks I am not good enough. Or what if he wants more from me, because I am a single woman? How can I have a job interview when I am like this? I am a well-educated, motivated young woman, educated in Law! While graduating I thought I could change the world with my degree and that companies were waiting for me to apply!

In the beginning I was really tried hard to fight for my rights in the company. I was working harder than anybody, but always if I had an idea the manager chose the idea of my male colleague. I felt so bad every day I went home. But one day, I really thought it changed. My manager told the whole department that there was going to be a job opening, because one of our colleagues was leaving. I couldn’t wait to apply and write my motivation letter…

When my ex-manager asked me to come inside the room for the interview, I already felt very nervous and my heartbeat was beating faster and faster. He asked me to sit down and we started the job interview. In the beginning I was thinking that I had a possibility to get the job, but after the interview went on it got a very weird direction… He kept asking about my social life, if I already had a fiancé and when I was planning to get married? At some point, the interview got a different direction. He started to look me in the eye for a long time and he came to sit next to me. He told me that he thinks I am very beautiful and touched my leg. When I told him I didn’t really feel comfortable, he got very mad and told me that if I wanted to get this promotion, I should give him some sexual actions. When he was moving his lips and saying this words; ‘sexual actions’ I was completely in shock. Did he just ask me to have sex with him for this promotion? Did I hear this wrong and am I just overreacting? I didn’t know what to say… I left the room with tears in my eyes and never came back to this company again.

Okay… back to reality, wake up! What happened in my previous job shouldn’t affect me so much anymore. I am strong and will fight for my position. Not everybody is the same, not every man is the same. So I’m going for it and try to get this job of my dreams! I still have hope in humanity, I still have hope in men, I still have hope in me.

Written By: Veerle Ross

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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – Diversity, Inclusion and the Holistic Wellbeing approach

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Written by: Cinzia Nitti

A working environment characterized by greater Diversity & Inclusion has more chance of being a place where new ideas and perspectives flourish: inclusive businesses benefit from those who feel very included and motivated in the Organisation. Companies with more culturally and ethically diverse Teams are 33% more likely to see better than average profits (McKinsey, 2017).

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 brought to light the need and urgency to put individuals and interactions over profits within the panel session dedicated to Creating a Holistic and Inclusive Wellbeing Strategy. The panel has been moderated by Chris Cummings (CEO Sonas Events) and joined by Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader – EY), Funda Kalemci (Global Leader, Diversity & Inclusion – Nielsen), Mimi Nicklin (Author and Empathetic Leader) and Öykü Kayaalp (Diversity & Youth Programs Professional – Vodafone Turkey).

According to the valued speakers, true Diversity and Inclusion have to create a sense of belonging, breaking the Mental Health Stigma and Empathy. So Emotional wellness turned out to be the core of those two elements: in fact, it generates wellbeing and inclusiveness at all levels.  

The covid-19 pandemic showed employees how frustration and emotional fragility affect performance and inclusion, even within the most well-structured and diverse Team. Filling the gap between self-expectations, dealing with such an unexpected “new normal” and an Organisation’s goal, proved to be a complex challenge that both employees and leaders had to face suddenly. Creating a work-life balance has been crucial to supporting the new “Smart Working Model” imposed by the pandemic.

How to maintain and strengthen a sense of belonging through screens and virtual work-spaces?

Irada Aghamaliyeva and Öykü Kayaalp firmly agreed on “connecting and communicate through a deep understanding of various cultures at the Workplace, whether physical or from home”. It is key to set a balanced environment where employees feel totally appreciated and valued – the reduction of work stress highlighted a decrease of stereotyping and a more open-mindedness towards intercultural awareness. It can be faced and strengthened through coaching sessions and encouraging employees to speak out freely and fearlessly about what makes them feel inadequate. Break the workplace Mental Health Stigma thanks to self-acceptance is the first step to creating a more inclusive culture, relation and support between employees and leaders.

What role plays Empathy in this framework and why it so crucial in an inclusive culture?

Empathy is the pixie dust that bridges the Diversity and Inclusion gap. Practicing and nurturing Empathy within the Organisations is the starting point from which Leaders and employees should consider the value of their interactions. Listening – not just hearing – is crucial: so often in HR and Leadership people listen to respond, but they don’t really stop and focus on what’s the inner need on the other side. To empathize is the choice to understand, it is a skill that we all can own through practicing kindness and active listening. “True Diversity and Inclusion has to begin with Empathy because if we don’t understand each other, how are we going to integrate?” Mimi Nicklin

Also, when employees are largely satisfied of their experience within the Company on an empathetic level, they are more likely to report high intent to stay with the Company and be high performers. “At Nielsen IQ we have a Global Wellness Framework lead by global HR Teams that works on four pillars: physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing and environmental & social wellbeing”, Funda Kalemci affirmed, highlighting the importance of Mental Health within Global companies.

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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma

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Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here: https://fowinsights.com/

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The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021

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The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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