Ever noticed how the words future and uncertainty have ‘U’ in common?
Technology and its extraordinary impact on our careers and work patterns has shrouded a collective sense of uncertainty on the future of our work. Not only is it dynamic, but the rate of exponential change is creating more questions than solutions.
Yet, according to this study by Pew Research Center, not enough people even consider their professions at risk!
At two Future of Work events that I recently attended, the panelists were at a loss of words when I posed a simple question- “Is the future of work different for women?” It was an ‘aha’ moment- a call to start that conversation! Interacting with women entrepreneurs, professionals and working moms as part of my work, also put me in the fortuitous position of understanding their perspectives.
What can future forward women do?
With the right ingredients but no recipe, a tasteful dish is eventually possible. Similarly, for career uncertainty, its best to assemble a core arsenal and iterate until you reach a measure of success.
Recognize that developing empathy, technological savviness and a learners mindset are strong ways to get ahead. No matter what your business or occupation, consider adopting this focused and doable 5 step action plan to fashion your approach to work.
1. Adaptability wins
We need to apply a flexible mindset to our careers.
Interacting with working women, I often witness how difficult it is to unlearn and relearn- give up a much beloved tool (say spreadsheets) and work instead on shareable cloud programs.
As circumstances and environments change, individuals who are agile and adaptable in their thought process and learn to acclimate, will thrive. It could simply mean embracing new systems for efficiency or taking the chance to act in a different role for the sake of personal growth.
2. Pull forth the creative in you
Work environments now demand speed in decision making, leveraging new ideas and problem solving aka creative thinking. When technology is infiltrating so many aspects of work, creativity is rapidly moving up the business agenda, with nearly three quarters (72%) of workers believing their future success depends upon it.
Foster your creative side with small changes. Exercise your right to disconnect from technology for some occasional solitude and boredom to allow your mind time for reflection. Reading, learning and embracing new perspectives and ideas are other great ways to fire up your creativity.
3. Put Skills first
70% of hiring professionals agree that If a candidate has the right skills for an open position, it doesn’t matter what type or format of education was used to get them.
Dave Fineman of Deloitte, speaking at the Work2027 roundtable said, “The average skill takes 3.5 – 4 years to acquire good proficiency. Think of 10 years as 2.5 skills.” So, identify the skills you want to be proficient in and be proactive in acquiring and updating them.
Developing cross-functional skills that involve not just proficiency in your tool, but soft transferable skills like professional judgement, and interaction with people are difficult for machines to replace.
4. Befriend tech
Embracing technology, as an adopter and user, will be the most critical career survival skill in the coming decade! The right level of technical competency is now a prerequisite to building your careers.
With a high possibility of an optimistic future where people are enabled rather than replaced by technology, where automation augments work and not replaces, humans and machines will be called to work side and side and that’ll prove to be an ace in the pocket of a tech savvy individual.
What this entails could be as simple as befriending social media and being in the loop on conversations about emerging tech in your chosen field and taking it from there.
5. Think collaborations
With experience running a women’s career community, I regularly witness women sharing resources, recommending, collaborating and peer mentoring, both online and offline. Engaging with your community, active networking & seeking mentors is a great way to build your skills and a consistent brand presence over time.
The role of employers as enablers!
While a lot of companies and individuals are actively reimagining what the future of work holds, we are yet to acknowledge that not all genders are created equal in this journey. Women are still playing catch up across professions, struggling to grow their resumes and lagging behind in digital skill development.
They are primarily the ones with child care and housework responsibilities, doing 2.6 times the amount of unpaid care and domestic work that men do, giving them less time to work on their careers. Even in the gig economy, female freelancers (as an example) are paid way less than men for the same creative jobs.
In times when women are still lobbying for equal pay and rights, the future of work for women needs an active, customized conversation, keeping their unique circumstances in mind. Conversations that bring maternity leave, family leave, gender inequality, harassment, inclusion and flexible work policies simultaneously to the table.
Women need to reach a critical mass representation across industries for our voices to carry weight. We need to participate in tech, mentor, collaborate and demand more.
In this era of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, an everyday Jane has the power to architect her own reality. With a plan and a system, we can all face the future with conviction.
Creativity is an immeasurable abyss. The more you create, the more you can draw from.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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I definitely agree that we have to be willing to develop a teachable spirit. There is always something new you can learn to add to your skillset! And that is always valuable when working within an ever-changing economy!
This is a brilliant post full of really helpful advice and tips for independent career driven women. I learned so much, thanks for sharing.
I think “Adaptability” is really a good trait that makes most women excel on our careers! Its always better to be prepared for the future.
These are all great ideas! Many would apply to everyone as well.
I really enjoyed this post. Being able to adapt is so important and I am glad you highlighted this. I also love the point about being creative. Thanks for sharing.
Being able to adapt is worth its weight in gold. No one wants to work with someone who can’t be flexible.
As a public educator, I 100% agree with the importance of embracing technology. I’ve seen how much it has changed since I began teaching 10 years ago, and there is a big difference between the teachers who are willing to learn new tech and those who are not.
We should definitely be getting our young girls interested in tech. Even though there are jobs that robots can do in the tech world, they simply won’t ever be able to do the high level work. And tech jobs aren’t going anywhere.
These are definitely some very good tips! Thanks for sharing them.
These are great tips for women who are planning their careers. I especially like the tip for collaborations. Being in community and networking is always key.
These are so true! All these characteristics are so very important to succeed in a career and any other endeavour. However, I was wondering, why did you specify these as skills future forward women need to have? Not to undermine the unequality on the workfloor or the female struggle that obviously still exists, but don’t you think these qualities are valuable for anyone, regardless of their gender identity? xx http://www.thevolcanicveins.com
Great pointer there and I completely agree with the gender agnostic nature of these 5 actions. There is a ton of information out there on the future of work, but few that actually keep women’s challenges in mind, when offering a game plan.
I think all of this is so true! You are right on point with collaboration, creativity and getting techy. These are all skills that all of us must have to be successful. I took the time to nurture these skills and I’m glad that I did. I feel more confident than before.
Good for you Christine. We also need to look around and support and inspire others who may not be investing in themselves as much.
This post is full of great tips and information for career women and entrepreneurs such as myself! I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thank you!
Thank you Julianne. Its great to face the future with a plan.