Get to know Dr. Samineh Shaheem – Managing Consultant, Leadership & Development Programmes

What’s been a defining moment for you as a woman in your career? 

One defining moment in my career was when I bravely took on a leadership role in a traditionally male-dominated organisation. While overcoming biases, societal expectations and stereotypes, with the help of my excellent team, we proved that gender does not limit one’s capabilities. This early experience in my career reinforced my belief in the importance of further enabling women to excel and progress in different industries and to help others understand the power of embracing diversity in the workplace. After all, we all benefit from gender equality!  

What’s the best example of gender equity leadership you’ve seen in action? 

One of the best examples of gender equity leadership I have witnessed is when a leader intentionally creates an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice is heard and valued. They promote equal opportunities for growth and development, ensuring that organisational policies are designed to eliminate gender bias. This leader actively works to break down barriers and supports initiatives that encourage women’s advancement, ultimately fostering a culture of equality, psychological safety and collaboration. 

What’s your view on the current state of gender equity? 

While progress has been made, there is still work to be done regarding gender equity. It is encouraging to see an increasing awareness and commitment towards achieving gender balance in various sectors, however, challenges persist as we confront unconscious biases, systemic hurdles, and cultural norms that continue to hinder progress. It is essential to continue advocating for equal pay, equal representation, and equal opportunities for all genders. By actively addressing the existing disparities and fostering a culture of inclusivity, we can collectively work toward achieving true gender equity. 

What have you read recently?  

I’ve just finished reading “Hidden Potential” by Adam Grant. This is a captivating book that delves into the untapped abilities and talents lying dormant within each of us. Grant – an influential organisational psychologist from Warton University – highlights the power of recognising and nurturing hidden potential in ourselves and others. Through insightful research and engaging storytelling, he takes readers on a transformative journey of self-discovery, providing practical strategies to unlock and harness dormant capabilities. With an emphasis on creating supportive environments that unleash hidden potential, Grant’s book further empowers readers to harness their inherent skills and abilities so that they can thrive in both personal and professional realms. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I mostly read, listen to podcasts and write in my spare time. While exercise and self-care are incredibly important to me, I wouldn’t consider them as activities I do in my spare time because I try and prioritise/schedule them with equal importance to work and other life responsibilities, throughout my daily routine and activities.  

What is your own experience of the Three Barriers and what tips would you give women navigating their own barriers? 

Regarding the Three Barriers to gender equity (personal, societal, and organisational), navigating these barriers can be challenging. Here are some tips for women facing these barriers. 

When it comes to Personal Barriers, start with your inner ecology rather than constantly looking for external solutions. Challenge negative self-talk and limiting beliefs, build confidence, and develop a strong support system. Set clear goals, take calculated risks, and continuously work on personal growth and development. 

In relation to Societal Barriers, advocate for change and challenge societal norms that perpetuate gender inequalities in different settings such as at home, schools and amongst friends. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals, engaging in conversations and initiatives that promote gender equality. 

And finally, Organisational Barriers can be overcome when we seek out organisations that prioritise gender equity and create inclusive cultures and/or play a central role in deliberately transforming workplaces so that certain barriers are confronted and prevented. Build relationships, network, and find mentors/sponsors who can guide you through career challenges. Regardless of your gender, advocate for policies that support gender equality within your workplace. If you are in the position to do so, create robust diversity and inclusion initiatives, provide flexible work arrangements and establish clear paths for advancement and career progression.