Noor and her team
By Duraid Adnan
An inclusive working environment is one where everyone feels valued. Individual relationships are of course at the heart of positive partnerships, but the employer must also foster an environment that supports collaboration – between male and female employees for example.
Of course there is also a return on investment for companies, no matter what their size. According to the 2010 Equality and Human Rights commission report, an inclusive workplace “maximises productivity, attracts new talent and increases employee commitment”. However, what happens if one gender heavily outweighs another in the workplace? Well General Electric (GE) deals with this by ensuring that its female talent pool has the tools to succeed. Noor, 30, the Manager of GE Healthcare Service Center in Iraq explains:
“The mere reality of working in Iraq means that there are always difficulties and complex situations. You need to be prepared for the worst and have a solid back-up. For us Iraqi women being leaders and having a family at the same time can require complex negotiating skills. This experience can therefore make work relationships and indeed wider challenges easier to negotiate. By recognizing the value of women leaders within the workforce, GE has implemented a plan that makes business sense and sends a strong message about the value of gender diversity in the workforce as a key business enabler.”
In over two years of working with GE in Iraq, Noor shares that she still faces personal challenges every day, from dealing with issues arising from the security situation or around prejudices against women working. Yet, she has overcome all odds and remains strongly focused on her career, supporting GE key customers and especially the Ministry of Health to coordinate all service needs across Iraq. She leads a team of 20 highly skilled field engineers to do so.
“We can’t say that our environment is difficult to work in and thus close the door to the future. Instead we need to face it, showing progress and delivering success. As one of few women in the workplace my situation can be challenging, but because I am is supported by a great team I am able to use these experiences to meet other situations head-on.”
It is GE’s policy to link global IT systems, processes and logistical expertise to local requirements, thus allowing the team to deliver better services to hospitals and medical facilities across Iraq. Local capacity building and training and education is also an important part of delivering the right kind of service. It’s all about team work – at the top level, but on an individual level also.
Ibrahim a service field engineer on Noor’s team, shares how their relationship has motivated him to do well.
“It is easy to communicate with her; she explains various aspects of the job easily. Together, we identify technical problems and reach out to customers; we must be fast and efficient to accomplish our goals.”
Young leaders like Noor, developed through GE’s focus on local talent development, will continue to be the strength of the company’s operations in Iraq. And of course by adapting global strategy to local business practice around gender and inclusion, this helps us build greater recognition for the Company and its people both here in Iraq, across the Middle East and globally. A win-win situation all round!
We’ll leave Noor to have the last word:
“Working closely with Iraqi society has helped me gain a better understanding of my country’s needs. My work therefore gives me a chance to not only to build my career but also to serve my country.”