Social media has many plusses and minuses that can be endlessly debated. One thing I’ve noticed is that people often focus on the negatives of its existence long before praising the benefits. The recent Facebook user-data controversy is a perfect example.
What I do love about social media is the ability to connect with interesting people who reside worlds away that I would’ve never been able to meet otherwise. Living in Appleton, Wisconsin, working full-time, and raising kids limits my international tour opportunities. I’d love to travel more, but other fiscal responsibilities take precedence.
I’ve used my LinkedIn network to connect with and learn from people in all corners of the globe. The education I’ve received from those contacts are the kind I would’ve never received in a traditional classroom or even the domestic workplace. With the world relying on stereotypes and the media feeding us mostly negative stories, it’s easy to form perceptions that aren’t always entirely accurate.
Thanks to those connections, I met Ibrahim Al-Haidos from Qatar on LinkedIn. Ibrahim is the owner of Fursan (www.fursan.qa), a company that creates and sells high-end bespoke handbags. Frankly, he’s the first person from Qatar I’ve ever spoken to in my life.
More importantly, Ibrahim is on a mission to empower women by offering them a great career at his company. Qatar is in the Middle East and borders Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, an area where challenges to female advancement in the workplace are known to be far more significant than others global locales.
His goal? Helping to change that perception by employing and empowering as many women as possible.
Here’s what he shared with me.
Andy Books: Your company’s mission is one that I highly admire. Why do you feel so passionately about empowering women?
Ibrahim Al-Haidos: In Qatar, women are treated equally to men in the workplace and society.
I believe in my heart that women are the crowning jewel of every society. Their contributions should never be diminished in any way. Instead, we should celebrate their abilities and empower them.
I’ve felt this way my entire life, and it stems from having such strong women role models in my life and business. They have taught me so much.
For example, I support and focus on women in the workforce by encouraging and supporting their participation in continuing their education through various technologies and tools. I also promote ongoing discussion around gender equality. We recently celebrated International Women’s Day at the workplace which is a celebration of female achievement and a special day to remind everyone of women’s contributions to society.
Andy Books: Let’s talk about execution for a minute. How do you plan to empower women, not only in the Middle East but on a global level with your brand?
Ibrahim Al-Haidos: The way we have set up our organizational structure at FURSAN, the roles are a great fit for the skills that many female applicants have. It’s not that we discriminate against males at all. However, by the nature of our business, our customers are predominantly women.
As Fursan grows and we expand our business model on a global level, we are certain that we can provide amazing employment opportunities for women all around the world from entry-level through executive-level positions.
Andy Books: What will a successful mission look like for you? How will you know that your company is not only making women look more stylish, but also empowering them to achieve more in the business world?
Ibrahim Al-Haidos: Wow, I love this question, Andy! It’s something I’ve thought about a lot.
Success for Fursan will be achieved when we are doing business in all markets around the world and have become a brand that stands out everywhere. We will have a full global workforce that has provided countless employment opportunities for women.
However, regarding our mission to empower women in the business world, I will know that is a success when they are able to use the experience and skills they gained working for Fursan to create bigger and better opportunities for themselves. While you never want to see your top talent leave your company, there is something very gratifying about seeing them grow and achieve more in their careers.
Knowing I am helping create future female business leaders in the Middle East is very gratifying. There is no glass ceiling strong enough to hold them back anymore.
Up to this point, my perception of almost any city in the Middle East was anything but a progressive class that embraced and welcomed professional female contributions. I envisioned a burka-clad feminine indentured servitude designed to suppress growth and innovation. A few short minutes changed that perception.
It’s truly amazing what we can learn about the world when we take the time to use technology to have real conversations with real people. For me, this was a virtual instruction about relying less on stereotypes and the headlines to form our global opinions. No question there are areas of our world that still practice a dark-age mentality, but there is plenty of evidence that the times are changing.
Like a CEO in Qatar who is unabashedly passionate about championing women in the workplace.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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