Yolanda van Dyk, IEDF Director: Human Capital


This article was inspired by the men of the Informal Economy Development Forum. When I was asked to write an article for our newsletter with a topic of my choice, I could not contain my excitement!

All that I could think about was how the world should know about the Informal Economy Development Forum’s, Lady Leaders.

Let’s kick-off with “Making sure Women’s ideas are heard” While women tend to gravitate toward the back of meeting rooms and away from positions that convey status, they get less “airtime” in group discussions. They are interrupted more—by both men and women—and given less credit for their ideas.

This, however, is different inside the meeting rooms of the IEDF. Our chairperson recently made a good example of this by pausing a strategic session after one of his female directors were interrupted in the middle of her presentation. He interjected and said, “I’d like to hear her finish.” By showing this great leadership style, the organization were able to successfully implement one of the ideas she presented on that day.

Remember, meetings are most effective when everyone’s best thinking is heard.

Challenging society’s beliefs

When a woman speaks in a bold style or relentlessly pursues her ideas, she is often called aggressive. Women are expected to be nurturing and collaborative, so when they lead, they go against expectations—and often face pushback from society.

Once again, this is different inside the world of the IEDF. Our women are seen as Confident and Strong. Our Leadership is welcomed with humble open arms.

When our women are called “bossy” by an outsider, the men in the IEDF requests a specific example of what the women did and then ask, “Would you have the same reaction if a man did the same thing?” In many cases, the answer will be no.

Moral of the story, give her the benefit of the doubt. Odds are she’s just doing her job.

Celebrate Her

Women respond differently to recognition than men. They give the credit of their accomplishments to external factors such as “receiving help from others,” or “a fluke”. We hardly own our success and thus allow our contributions to go unnoticed.

At the IEDF, the Women get together in a group, albeit virtually or face to face to celebrate one another’s successes. We don’t allow any opportunity, where we are able to promote each other to pass us by.

I asked each IEDF Woman what she thinks her colleagues would say about her. Here are a few of their comments:

HOD – Media & Technology: “Strict”. “Loyal and committed to ensure we create a better future for our future generation.”

Director – Business Development: “I am Bold”. “She would say that I am someone that she could look up to and learns from”. “I keep the pace”. “I have nurturing personality and am a mom-like figure”.

Media House Manager: She would say that I am a Free spirit and am an open minded individual”. “Always puts the needs of others before herself”. “She adapts easily”. “She has an addictive laugh” “Lastly, a ball of positive vibes and someone you want in your circle because she is not shy.”

Commit the time and energy to celebrate female coworkers.

If you’re at a senior level in your organisation or in your community, go beyond offering advice and use your influence to advocate our young ladies. “Pay it Forward”.

Together we can level the playing field and go further, faster.

Written by: Yolanda van Dyk IEDF Director: Human Capital