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Inspiring Women: Ema Yoshikawa

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Today we do an interview with Ema Yoshikawa. This girl was raised as psychologist at the Iberoamerican University of Mexico, And I study Ontological Coaching at Newfield Network. For more than 15 years, he has led projects and teams in different branches of Human Resources, in sectors as diverse as telecommunications, retail, or education, among others. Currently, he holds the position of People Manager at ABInBev Chile.

As shown by his LinkedIn profile, is a people manager, an expert in culture, diversity, internal communications and organizational development. For this reason, and since we are in women's month, we wanted to ask you how your path to leadership has been and what obstacles you have encountered.

Some of the characteristics that stand out in female leadership are: greater sociability, greater value to cooperativism, innovative mentality and more empathy. In your opinion, how do these characteristics influence the development of companies? 

Although historically these characteristics can be associated with the female gender more frequently, it is important not to perpetuate stereotypes associated with genders. Say, for example, that men have better numerical skills, or that women have better human relations, could restrict the access of people according to their gender to certain areas within an organization, or even generate expectations about the skills expected of a woman, guided solely by her gender.

I have been fortunate to come across great women with diverse skills and competencies, with whom they have managed to carry out successful efforts, and the same in the case of men. Today, what we must promote is a greater awareness that both men and women are capable of assuming leadership and decision-making roles. Understanding that everyone, regardless of gender, age, nationality or other personal characteristic, can achieve the skills required for any position.

The female presence can generate a positive impact in organizations, bring a different perspective, and valuable skills that can improve culture, innovation and even profitability.

How has your journey to become a female leader been? – another question from the interview with Ema Yoshikawa

It has been key to choose develop my career in different companies with a high degree of awareness regarding gender equality and the benefits associated with having diversity of thought and outlook to foster innovation and profitability.

I hope there are many who today aspire to seek work environments where we are allowed to be ourselves, valued for the differences and constantly accompanied to find our best version. 

I am the mother of a whirlwind who is 8 years old today, one of my main personal challenges and my great life teacher. I understood that in order to advance my career as a mom, I had to be willing to make tough decisions. Many times, I lived with the guilt of not being as present for my son in his early years as we both wanted. There are no right paths, women will choose what seems right to them in a given context. The important thing is to be able to make informed and conscious decisions. Unfortunately, these are decisions that we have to make with more or less difficulty depending on our personal support networks, because raising alone is tremendously difficult.

Additionally, thanks to my last roles very close to the management of Diversity and Inclusion within organizations, I understood very early on that the As women, we face significant gender barriers that tend to be invisible to ourselves. because they are naturalized within the social norms. Knowing this, and understanding it in detail, allows you to somehow "hack" that system built on bias, in order to advance smoothly in your career. 

What has been the most difficult thing about being a female leader? – another question from the interview with Ema Yoshikawa

There are significant gender barriers associated with the professional development of women within an organization. Among them is the reconciliation between work life and family/domestic life, socially associated with the "natural role" of women and which, added to our high self-demand, makes us let's try to cover both areas perfectly putting too much on our plate. 

Although there are other gender-relevant barriers, for me, the main ones lie in our own limitations, created by the social stereotypes that we must comply with and by the type of education we have received. (We are not guilty of our limitations! We have learned them over time and it is time to unlearn them). 

 Some of these limitations are so common that they have already been baptized with concepts such as "Glass Ceiling", "Impostor Syndrome" and "Sticky Floor". In my case, the barrier with the greatest presence is the "Impostor Syndrome", that "crazy woman on the roof" (as a friend would say), who lives in our heads and who tells us all the time that "we won't do it well", "you're not good enough" or that when something goes really well you He says that "it was a matter of luck." 

Women have to believe the story and knowing that our achievements are the product of our investment of time and dedication. Understanding the above and defining plans to break down our own biases and limitations is a path that requires a lot of courage, patience, self-compassion, and perseverance.

What advice would you give to women who have the dream of creating their own company or of being company leaders?

Half of the world's population are women women are not enemies or rivals as the old Disney movies taught my generation. Where the stepmother, stepsisters and witches envied us and competed with us. Women have the tremendous possibility of creating communities based on sorority (solidarity between us) to mutually boost our careers. 

Find successful women to be your sponsors, mentors and travel companions. This is something that I have always incorporated into my agenda. Nurturing yourself from the experience of others is something that you will not learn in any University.

When a woman grows, they all grow, because doors that were closed before are opened.

Do you think there are still barriers for women to bet on management positions? – another question from the interview with Ema Yoshikawa

Clear, part of the barriers are put up by the environment and others are put up by ourselves. We need better maternity/paternity policies for work/life balance and co-responsibility. We have to work on our self love, believe the story a little more and grow networks with generous people who know more than us.

Women must be made visible in this role, so that others see that it can be done and dare to bet on it.

In your experience, how can companies promote female leadership?

There are no unique or perfect formulas, everything depends on the culture of each organizationof its leaders, of its history. 

The ones that I have observed on my way with great success are:

  • Make powerful women visible: They are always around, sometimes afraid to show themselves enough so as not to appear "conceited" and not very humble. Historically, we have been taught to be like this, “prettier quiet”, but there are incredible women, working in silence, and that we must make visible so that they can be an example and a reference for others. 
  • Measure, measure and measure. It is not enough to know how many women are in the organization. We need to know more: where are they? In what areas? How many are leaders? How many have been promoted in the last year? Having information will help to identify the sources of work. 
  • Train your leaders, everyone, not just women. One of the relevant issues to work on equity is that we are all aware of the value of diversity, unconscious biases, networking, personal branding, micro-machismo, etc. 

There are many more measures, but none works by itself or everywhere. The solutions must be for each organization.

What do you think is the characteristic that has defined your career? Because? – another question from the interview with Ema Yoshikawa

Curiosity, wanting to learn about everything even beyond the formal role I had at that time. Curiosity is inexhaustible, because when you learn something new you discover new learning possibilities. When that lives in you, you have no choice but to grow. Curiosity is good for also developing empathy, it brings you closer to people with a real interest in getting to know them better. 

Dare. It is not the absence of fear, fear protects us from danger. Is move forward and go for what you want even with fear, with the conviction that you have or will have what you need along the way. 

A real interest in people. I am convinced that when you love, you always bring out the best in you. I love working for and with people.

What makes you feel most proud of being a female leader? 

I am proud to have built a career faithful to my principles and who I am. An ambitious career comes with sacrifices. I dare not say that for women the sacrifices are greater, they are different. What makes it more difficult for us is that they are sacrifices for which society burdens you with excessive guilt, for not fulfilling your role as a domestic and mother by being available 24/7 for it. That's why, you have to be very sure of what you want, because there will always be people willing to tell you what you are missing because of your work. I feel that I have advanced with a balance that works for me and that makes me happy. 

In hirint we are committed to diversity and inclusion for this reason we want in the month of women to give voice to women leaders and so inspire to others. For this reason, we have conducted this interview with Ema Yoshikawa. You can learn more about Hirint here

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