For the better part of a year, the world has been trying to balance life with work, all amidst a global pandemic. This balance has been challenging for everyone, but none more so than women.
According to Reuters and Refinitiv Datastream data, participation in the labor market for women ages 25-54 fell more sharply and recovered more slowly than for men since the pandemic began.
Many factors contribute to these rates, including the increased – and often unequal – challenges women have faced as working mothers while schools and childcare venues are closed.
With these stark realities serving as a backdrop, the Women’s Interest Network (WIN), one of SRP’s 10 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), hosted its annual International Women’s Day (IWD) luncheon. Its goal was to empower and lift attendees up, especially as they enter into the second year of the pandemic.
More than 100 SRP employees gathered virtually to hear from a speaker whose life has been about balance.
Using purpose to guide the way
Singh’s advice to SRP attendees – mostly women and all participating in today’s workforce – was timely. She carefully outlined strategies to help people thrive using a combination of purpose and “hustle,” which includes fear mitigation strategies.
Purpose, she explained, is what everyone is uniquely positioned to do in the world. For Singh, purpose is about power, and it drives every move she makes.
“I have never chased a title, geography or pay,” she said. “What I’ve always been after is purpose. And my purpose is how to shift power to marginalized communities.”
She discussed how this purpose helps her operate her business as well as how she operates during the day, including what kind of mother and leader she wants to be.
Combining purpose with hustle
But purpose can only go so far, says Singh. You also have to figure out how to use it to your advantage. That’s where hustle comes in.
“How do you do it? The answer comes back to the idea of hustle. You know what your purpose is, you have to know how it shows up in the world, how these two things come together.”
One of the critical aspects of hustle, for Singh, is challenge.
She spoke next about how learning to deal with challenge – failure especially – is the key to engaging your purpose.
“I had an epiphany,” she said. “We have all had experience with failure. So, I thought, if all of us are going to fail, how many of us are that good at it? I could get really good at this. Make failure my market differentiator. I could be the best at failing.”
Overcoming obstacles to meet her purpose
What came next for Singh was a lesson in turning lemons into lemonade. A deeply frustrating meeting in a prior job produced a moment of inspiration aligned to her purpose.
The resulting project was writing her first children’s book. Its focus was showcasing children of color – sorely underrepresented in children’s books – and it fit perfectly into her life’s work of shifting power to marginalized communities.
It was also a lesson in failures. But using strategies for dealing with and learning from failures propelled her forward into success and toward something else – inspiring others.
“When you’re living in your purpose, you’re giving them permission to live in theirs,” Singh explained.
This year’s theme: choose to challenge
The 2021 International Women’s Day theme, #ChoosetoChallenge, invites everyone to consider how they might forge a more gender-equal world.
Singh offered this advice to those in the virtual audience to help them as they do so:
“Think about your purpose and what fears are holding you back from that purpose. Decide what tools you can use today to get over those fears. People need that from you. WIN needs that from you.”
“You don’t have to be fearless. But you can learn how to fear less,” she said.