5 Life Lessons on being a Female Entrepreneur in the East

As a Female Entrepreneur and Professional from South Asia, I get asked this question multiple times. How did you do it? Did you not face resistance? Do you not feel threatened? When people from Western Societies ask me this question, I understand where they are coming from because they only have access to the limited biased information they receive from media outlets. So I suppose they are surprised I am not at home breeding and cooking.

But when people from the sub-continent ask me this. I have two reactions; one for women and one for men. Men ask because almost always they are mocking me (Yes, not all men are like that). Some are genuinely interested in how I did it. I give them the same response as I give to my ladies. Women ask because they want to know what I did differently from them or what opportunities did I have access to that they didn’t. I understand where they are coming from. I hug them or smile and give them these tricks I have learnt over the years as a Female Entrepreneur in an Eastern Society.

So here’s what I have learnt over the years and am still learning each and every day as it comes.

1. I am important

When you are handling multiple threads in your life such as: your family (Parents and siblings), Your Education and personal Development, Your Career, Your Romantic Life (With a Spouse or otherwise), Being Married, Having Children and Dealing with In Laws. It is important to understand one more being that you are forgetting about and that is you, yourself.

I tell this to myself over and over again when I am trying to be super human. I am important. My health, mental, emotional and physical is also important. I am important. Over the years now I know, if I am not okay, no one else can be okay. If I cannot take up my these battles everyday because if I am not me, everything will fall apart.

So it is extremely important that you take out time for yourself. You evaluate every decision in your life first thinking how do you feel about it and how does it affect you in the long run. Saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable will in the long distance not only damage you but your relationships and responsibilities in the long run.

2. I am not apologetic

This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt and the one I share first with everyone.

Something I learnt not just when I became an entrepreneur but also when I was working in a top-notch company in a high paying position. I am no longer apologetic for anything I do and who I am.

It does not mean I have pride and no empathy. I just refuse to be boggled down by what people think of me or what they think I should do. I am always open to good advice and even criticism but I now also know when someone means to help me when someone just wants to inject negativity in my life.

I have finally become comfortable in my own skin and I own it. I own my mistakes, I own my victories and I own myself.

3. I am not Weak and its okay to not be 100% at everything every time.

Just because I cant be a super human and be a perfectionist at everything does not mean I am weak. No Sir. I am yet to see someone man or woman who cooked, cleaned, raised babies with morals and ethics, educated themselves, had a fulltime career, Was an entrepreneur and had a happy successful marriage. I am not saying you cannot have all of this – I am just saying you cannot have all of this happening simultaneously every hour of the day.

As Shonda Rhimes put it ‘Shonda, how do you do it all?’ The answer is this: I don’t. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I am probably blowing off a script I was supposed to rewrite. If I’m accepting a prestigious award, I’m missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.’

4. Honesty always

I learnt it when I was a child being raised in a relatively liberal but most importantly unbiased family. I learnt to not judge people, to not backbite and then to be honest. No matter what we did, we were just honest. It made us confident. It made life simpler. It’s not always easy to be honest, but it’s so much better than to lie. Because whenever I find myself lying, I have to keep lying later to cover up that lie and sometimes you just lose count and the context of what you lied about.

I don’t lie when I give advice. I don’t lie when i tell people how it is. It sometimes at first instance may not be the popular vote, but it has helped people to understand me and what to expect from me.

5. I lead a purpose-filled life

I have stopped being raised and treated as a cattle or a commodity. I had the opportunity of not being treated as a commodity or as a non-personal with feelings and a brain when I was being raised in my family. My parents had always had a mind of their own and so did i.

When you have a purpose defined for yourself, goals to lead your life. Small things don’t affect you. Small distractions, quarrels that belittle your purpose and waste your time, irrelevant issues that can be very well ignored; All of this falls in place ONLY when you have a purpose lead life.

So find your purpose, believe in it and plan it. Don’t give up when plans don’t go your way. Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to be. But that’s the beauty of life to do well with what you get. Make Lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you!

I am doing a Facebook Live Session on my Facebook page on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Follow me there to stay updated with the latest trends in the job market and personal development.

Maheen Noor Soomro, HR Super Heroine. 10 Years of HR & People Management. Talent Acquisition Ninja Style. A Career & Life Coach. Co-founder & partner at my Entrepreneurial Venture Called Mushawar Consulting , a Business, Technology & HR Consulting Firm. A Staunch Supporter of Women & Youth Development and Empowerment Initiatives. Counseling Students & Professionals. I believe in Helping others Help themselves. You can read more from me at and Mushawar Consulting or follow me on & to stay updated with the latest trends!

Episode 10- Conversation With IWEE Sheroe Madeleine Black

Madeleine Black has experienced more in her life than most ever will — or would ever want to. Most people who have gone down a similar road have ended up either dead, in mental wards, homeless, addicted to drugs, or in jail. Few have walked away from such carnage with her quiet dignity and led a life that is, by many standards, enviable.
Madeleine was gang raped when she was 13 years old. She was consequently raped 3 more times before the age of 18. One might wonder how such things could happen and potentially make judgements about such people and what they must have done to bring on such events. In a matter of a few, short chapters, the reader will see how a slippery slope can be created from the horrible actions of just one night.
The events of that first rape were so traumatic, it took Madeleine many years and a lot of hard work to uncover the memories of that attack. She, like so many others who have been raped or violently attacked, suffered from PTSD and numerous phobias and at times debilitating psychological challenges. As those memories bubbled up, she questioned their veracity, questioned her own mind. Could she believe such things? Would she make up such things? All the while, she was doing her best to exact what she called her “best revenge” plan on those who attacked her: leading a good, productive, happy life. But the road to living such a life was long and painful.
So how does one emerge from such depths? And can others do it as well? Madeleine tells her story in vivid, candid detail. Her words are simple and straight. Her story is accessible and relatable, even to those who have not suffered such hardships. That’s because her message is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. It’s not about what knocks a person down, it’s how they get back up.
Forgiveness was the key for Madeleine. That may sound simple or trite, but true forgiveness is neither of those. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who may have done us harm. It takes caring enough about one’s self to take the necessary steps. It’s not about God or religion or faith or prayer. It’s about understanding the human predicament and coming to terms with that. It may take effort, but Madeleine shows us that it’s worth the effort. And really, if we’ve already suffered hardship, what do we have to lose?

In this podcast, Madeleine shares her amazing story of courage and resilience and determination.

We also share some of the ways in which rape victims and other victims of abuse can be helped. It is shocking to see how many violent criminals including rapists are walking free from court after lenient sentences. Britain has the lowest rape conviction rate in Europe. On top of that, there is no proper support system to help or counsel these victims. Counselling is often very expensive and cannot be afforded by most victims. We also discussed if how each coach and mentor out there took it upon themselves to take on board even one victim and help the latter in getting back to life, the world will be a much better place to live in.

Madeleine’s message to everyone is that it’s never too late to find your voice and that you can learn to be okay. She says that it’s not about what knocks a person down but it’s how they get back up. It’s not really what happened to us that’s important. It’s what we do with what happened to us that really matters.
Madeleine can be followed on her various social media accounts
LinkedIn: Madeleine Black
Facebook: MadeleineBlackUnbroken
Twitter: @madblack65
Instagram: @madblack65
Website: http://www.madeleineblack.co.uk

You Can Listen To This Inspiring Episode On

Episode 9- Conversation With IWEE Sheroe Bushra Nasir

Mrs Bushra Nasir was a secondary headteacher with 20 years’ experience at Plashet School in the London Borough of Newham before retiring in December 2012. She was the first Muslim female headteacher of a secondary school in the UK.
In 2003, she was awarded a CBE for her services to education and in 2005 won the ‘Asian Professional Woman of the Year’ award. She served on the General Teaching Council from 2000 to 2005 and was president of the Muslim Teachers’ Association for six years. In 2006, Mrs Nasir was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London for her services to education; in 2007 she received a Fellowship from Queen Mary College London.
She is currently on the Education Advisory Panel for Mosaic and is a coach for the NCSL BME headteacher internship programme. She is a Council member of Queen Mary University and the Chair of the Education Committee of the Migration Project.
Mrs Nasir is co-author of a book called Breaking Stereotypes, which aims to provide positive role models for ethnic minority young people. In 2009, she was named in the top 10 list of Muslim women in the ‘Muslim Power’ list produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and published in The Times.She was special advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007
Mrs Nasir was awarded TES Headteacher of the Year in summer 2012. She has also been named as the top 10 most influential asian women in UK.

In this very inspiring interview she discusses her transition to a new country as an 8 year old child, her career, some inspiring life lessons and much more.

She advocates:
Staying True To Your Identity
Honing Your Skills & Investing In Training & Development
Working Hard
Making The Best Out Of The Opportunities Given To You

She can be contacted at [email protected]

You Can Listen To This Interview On

Episode 8- Conversation With R&R Shero Jenny Garrett

What can I say about a woman who is so phenomenal? I have the honor of having Jenny as my role model and mentor ever since I moved to London.

Jenny’s mission is to transform the world for everyone, one empowered woman at a time. She uses her years of experience in coaching and leadership to inspire and motivate people, working with them to deliver career and life changing results beyond expectation.
Jenny is a sought after executive coach, author of Rocking Your Role, the how to guide to success for female breadwinners, speaker, and founder of Reflexion Associates leadership consultancy and Rocking Ur Teens CIC

She is recipient of numerous prestigious awards, a TedEx speaker and a TV expert.
In this conversation, Jenny talks about the challenges faced by women bread earners and shares some great strategies to handle this role well. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and learned some important insights and I am sure you will too.

Don’t forget to share your feedback!

You can find more about Jenny at http://www.jennygarrett.global and  can listen to this episode on

Episode 7- Conversation with R&R Shero Cherron Inko- Tariah

Our next guest is a power house! From working as a well reputed civil servant and receiving the prestigious MBE rank to writing an incredible book and founding The Power Of Staff Networks, Cherron Inko- Tariah is truly an R&R Shero!
The Power of Staff Networks was founded by her. She is former civil servant and has undertaken leadership roles in various policy and strategic positions across Whitehall, including working with Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

Cherron is passionate about staff networks and the positive impact these can have on the individual and the organization. An accomplished Chair of a number of staff networks (one to award-winning status), Cherron has facilitated bespoke training to educate employees on the benefits of proactive development. During her career, she has achieved a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management, and a Masters in Employment Studies and Human Resource Management. She qualified in HR with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and is also a qualified career coach with the Institute of Leadership and Management.
In 2011, Cherron received an MBE for her services to HM Government and, also for her work in the faith community with young people.In this episode, Cheron talks about the importance and impact of Staff Networks also popularly known as ERG in US.

You can listen to the episode on and

Cheron can be found/ contacted on the following social media platforms
Twitter: @POSNetworks #power

Do you want to be a female role model? Lead by example!

This article was originally published in The HuffPost and Ellevate

Girls often look to the women in their lives for guidance and inspiration. How and what we do can set positive examples for girls to follow. Back in the days, unfortunately, many young women including myself either grew up in work culture that reeked of gas lighting and queen bees or did not have many career driven female role models to look up to. Wikipedia describes “queen bee” as someone who sees younger women as competitors and refuses to help them advance within a company, preferring to mentor males over female employees.

However, the good news is that this type of culture is gradually dissipating and women are now increasingly seeing other women as allies, nurturing relationships, celebrating each other’s unique strengths and making powerful collaborations. In a recent article, Sally Krawchek reveals that the days of the Queen Bees are ending . ‘Queen Bee, you had your run. Rest in peace” she further adds.

While its good news that queen bees are thankfully no longer the main concern of the 21st century women, nevertheless, there are many other challenges that still need to be addressed. We need to first overcome these challenges ourselves and then encourage girls to learn from our example. In other words, we need to ‘be the change we want to see’ Here are some areas which need our attention;

Own It like It Was Always Ours

Despite being confident, many women are still shy of putting themselves forward, are hesitant to take up lead roles and avoid taking risks. When girls are complimented on their achievements, they also tend to deflect praise and prefer to keep their accomplishments low key for fear of being labeled boastful.

And then there are ‘ Some girls don’t speak up in class unless they’re 100 percent sure they have the right answer, while others shy away from trying new subjects or activities This same reluctance also holds women back.’ As a role model we need to encourage girls to step up, accept their success and moreover, be kind to themselves. As I wrote in my article, on we need to own our successes and believe with conviction that we belong where we are. We achieved because we worked hard and deserved the place and not because of mere luck, chance or any other external factors.

Love Ourselves and Our Imperfections

A government survey revealed that almost a quarter of girls aged between 8 and 11, admit they worry about their weight and appearance not due to a desire for a healthy living but mostly to ‘fit in’ a specific category or to appear magazine cover-worthy. As role models, we must encourage young girls to believe that they are good as they are by making them value their traits and accomplishments more than their physical appearance and make them realize that neither the length of their dress nor any other physical feature can or should be a determinant of their success.

Not just appearance, but even whilst working on projects and deadlines, we tend to be perfectionists, often finding it difficult to delegate. We, therefore, strive very hard and often put in extra hours to finish a task in line with our self-imposed and meticulous standards which can often be exhausting for ourselves and for others. We need to be more flexible, give ourselves permission to be imperfect, and show girls that it is okay to make mistakes, fail or to not know everything all the time. Moreover, sometimes ‘done better than perfect’

It’s Okay To Not Have Everything

I truly believe that women can be whatever they want to be. However, whether women can have everything at the same time is not something I can whole heartedly agree with. And it’s not just me.

‘We CAN’T have it all’ says Former Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman on why she thinks women are setting themselves ‘impossible standards’ As someone who is an obvious champion of women with ambition and despite her credentials the editor says that she doesn’t believe that women can ‘have it all’.

Douglas Rushkoff in yet another blog, No, We Can’t Have It All says that we must abandon the notion that any man or woman can fully dedicate themselves to both family and career at the same time. ‘One parent will always end up doing more parenting and miss out on career opportunities, while the other will miss out on some family joys, but end up higher on the corporate ladder’ This according to her is more owing to a competitive corporate culture than failure of individuals and I couldn’t agree more.

If we keep believing in the idealistic and fanciful notion that as women we can or must strive to have everything- a flourishing career, a blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced life style all at once, we will be subjecting ourselves to delusory presumptions that will eventually make us feel less worthy and incapable if we are unable to do justice to both. The fear of missing out often puts undue pressure on us and makes us work extra hard so that we wouldn’t have to compromise. But the truth of the matter is you will always be missing out on something and that’s okay. No one can have it all. Not even men.

Be Tolerant And Accepting Of Other View Points

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman who has been scorned’

I have, unfortunately, been a personal witness to this statement on several occasions in the recent past One trend which is predominant in most controversial discussions in women only groups is the lack of tolerance and openness towards an opposing viewpoint. There is absolutely no need to bring down another woman and pass belittling or condescending comments on her just to prove your point and satisfy your ego. Be vocal and express your view point by all means but within the limits of propriety and without sounding derogatory.

You are now needed more than ever to be a role model for girls to look up to. But remember, they say that to be a role model is a privilege. Exercise that privilege wisely.

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Podcaster, Executive Caree Coach & NLP Practitioner. She tweets @advancingyou and can be contacted at [email protected]

Episode 6- Conversation With R&R Shero Michelle Green

Michelle Green is the author and teacher behind The Business of Baking, which teaches business skills to people who want to turn their baking hobby into a profitable business. She is also an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, mentor and a mum of triplets. She is passionate about educating and inspiring people to give their dreams a good shot at becoming reality. Interestingly these days the blog is attracting loads of non-bakers, because they all share one common goal, which is to see if they can make small business actually work for them.

Her aim is to tell people how it really is while still encouraging them to go for it and give them the practical tools to make it happen. She shares her real-life stories, with all the ups and downs to demonstrate that everyone can do it and yet she doesn’t sugar-coat the experience.  The most common feedback she gets is, “Thank you for your refreshing honesty!”

There are many talented people out there who are masters of the skills of their trade but they lack the business skills to make it all come together. In this episode Michelle shares some kick ass advice and first hand experiences with the listeners, who are probably going through similar things in their own businesses, to inspire them and help them succeed.
Some of the topics she covered in this episode are
•Working from home (without losing your mind or mastering Candy Crush instead of working)
•Being a mum and a business owner (and surviving both!)
•Taking the step from hobby to business
•How to market your business when you’re on a shoestring budget or you’re an introvert
•Dealing with difficult clients

You can listen to this incredibly informative podcast packed with actionable advice over here

Michelle’s  special message to the audience:

“Don’t give up on having a life because you want to have a business but don’t give up on having a business because you want to have a life! I meet so many people who say that Michelle, I can’t start a business because my children are too young, I am too old, too short, too tall, too stupid, too broke, too whatever but I say….Oh Gosh please just start it, if you have a fire within you than just do it,  maybe it will be imperfect but better be imperfect and done than never done!”

Episode 5 Conversation with R&R Shero Debbie Pace

This R&R Shero believes in ‘Kicking The Shit Out of Fear’ and is known as ‘The Fear Extinguisher!

Debbie Pace is an author, life coach with an MBA, a triathlete, and a badass firewalker four times and counting. She is a former U.S. Navy Journalist with 30 years of award-winning broadcast experience… from radio and TV news anchoring and reporting, to online news editing, writing and producing, and even some country music DJing.
Debbie is the chief empowerment officer of Blazing Voice LLC, and co-host of the Badassery Podcast.
She is a global mindset and visibility mentor who coaches individuals and groups to bust through mental and technology blockages that are holding them back from speaking their deep, authentic truth and elevating their business. As a self-proclaimed Fear Extinguisher, Debbie runs fear-focused coaching and mindset programs, including a week-long challenge to help people Kick the Shit Out of Fear©.
Debbie is also a keynote speaker specializing in motivational events who brings her high energy, power and passion to a deeply inspiring message.

Listen to this conversation and benefit from loads of kick ass advice from this dynamic lady. I promise that you will get up feeling energised, invigorated and badassly determined! You can listen to the episodes on

And don’t forget to share your feedback! We will be waiting 🙂

You can follow Debbie on the following links:

Facebook profile:
Facebook group:
YouTube: https:/

Episode 4 – Conversation with R&R Shero Jodi Flynn

Type A women are usually super focused and practically addicted to accomplishing goals. They have high levels of energy, are wired to keep busy and can often be seen doing multiple projects at once which other people might find difficult to relate to. Despite having impressive profiles, they still feel as they have to achieve a lot more in life. Type A women are also highly conscientious and care deeply. In all areas of their life, it’s important for them to stay on top of things and make sure everything gets executed perfectly whether it’s planning parties or dinners, making loved ones feel special or working on projects.

The downside, unfortunately, is that Type A’s find it hard to trust others especially in terms of work quality and hence delegating is not easy for them. They can sometimes be called impatient, controlling, over-achieving and perfectionists.

I know. I can relate. I am type A too. Well, mostly!

High on interpersonal skills , quite popular and well-liked amongst family and friends (or at least I’d like to think so) yet when it comes to working in a team, I am not so sure. I have, unfortunately, a very low tolerance for lateness, tardiness, and incompetence. I am driven and very goal oriented as a result of which I am often less accepting of when it comes to anything that gets in my way or any person who doesn’t have the same sense of urgency.

If you relate to any of these characteristics you will find this latest conversation with R&R Shero- Jodi Flynn very interesting and entertaining. Jodi Flynn is a super accomplished woman of many talents and one of my favorite inspirational women coaches out there.

She is also the Founder of Women Taking the Lead, a podcast, and community of ambitious entrepreneurial women who want to go BIG. Her leadership podcast was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as top-ranked women hosted podcast. Jodi works with Type-A women who are already successful but have not yet achieved the level of success they want to achieve. Jodi helps her clients to see how extraordinary they are and then set priorities, get organized, in action so they can achieve their biggest goals with ease. She became an Amazon bestselling author with the release of her book, Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to doing.

This conversation with Jodi is one of the most fun ones I have had recently and if you can relate to the aforementioned type A traits, you will love it too. Jodi says that despite the negative characteristics, sometimes associated with Type A women, the latter are movers, shakers and go getters! They get things done! And I couldn’t agree more 😉 Apart from the characteristics of Type A women, Jodi also discusses helpful strategies that can help type A women. She also shares her incredible experience of participating in a Spartan race and how she went about achieving this goal of hers.

You can reach out to Jodi at


Also, watch out for a joint webinar which me and Jodi plan to have in October and which we are eagerly looking forward to. The webinar will be discussing some common challenges faced by women in business and careers and promises to be a very exciting one indeed! Stay tuned for further updates on this!

You can listen to this amazing episode with Jodi Flynn on

Sexual Harassment is still the haunting reality for hundreds of working women today. Here is what you need to know and do if you are a victim

The world is making strides in women empowerment and women advancement. Women are also making gains in the workplace but then we see cases like that of the former Uber engineer Susan Fowler who published a 3000-word blog post describing a nightmarish workplace culture in which male superiors solicited her for sex and human resources officers shrugged off her concerns about sexist company practices. Another recent case was a high profiled one involving a newswoman’s lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. All these incidents put a spotlight on an issue that still remains an all-too frequent reality in the workplace and that is sexual harassment. It also makes us realize that sexual harassment is a deep rooted problem and has nothing to do with class or culture. It is an epidemic which is prevalent across the globe evidencing alarming statistics.

I was recently mentoring some young girls who had just begun their career. Whilst casually discussing challenges at work, one of the girls expressed her discomfort at a senior male colleague repeatedly addressing her at work as ‘sweetheart’ and/or ‘Darling” and at how he kept patting her shoulder every now and then. What she shared was disturbing but what was even more appalling was how she dismissed her own concern and undermined its seriousness by quickly adding.’ I know I am over reacting and being silly and childish. He is my father’s age and it probably doesn’t mean much. But I am not a kid anymore. Anyway, I am not the only he does this to. He does that to everyone”

The rest of the girls nodded in agreement and laughed it off as well. I was speechless. Not only did this girl believe or was made to believe that calling names which make you feel uncomfortable is actually okay, she was also finding excuses to defend her Manager’s harassment. And that’s when it struck me- perhaps, one of the major reasons why many sexual harassers get away is because they make the victims believe that what they are doing is not something that can or should warrant an objection. Inappropriate actions under the guise of ‘It’s my nature’ ‘It’s not just you’ ‘I did it once only’ or it was a ‘just a compliment’ are some of the common excuses used by sexual harassers to justify their sick behavior.

Age and seniority have nothing to do with this either. I recently heard about a very senior Manager being fired from my ex-company on account of sexual harassment. My colleagues and I were shocked. Not only was he one of the most respected Managers of the company, some of us fondly called him ‘granddad’! Apparently, he had been portraying a very different image in front of us, however, how he behaved with new hires in other departments was all together a different and horrific story. And that’s when I learned an important lesson- just because some one looks elderly and respectful and just because, you didn’t experience it yourself; there is no reason to believe that others won’t experience it either. These incidents prompted me to write about what is still consider a tabooed topic by many and through my writing bring awareness that can help empower women who are victims of sexual harassment.

You see – It’s not just the harassers that we need to stop. We as women need to make ourselves strong enough to be able to raise a voice and unleash a backlash on such offenders and teach them a lesson or two.

Social media is more powerful than it ever was. In Susan Fowler’s case, the media pounced on the offenders with extreme vitriol. The #deleteuber campaign which reached new heights proved that media has the power to highlight social injustices and evoke remedial measures like never before and we need to make use of every medium out there is to make our voice heard.

Gratisography women distressed

If you are victim of sexual harassment, here is what you need to know and do


The very first thing you need to if you feel you are the victim is to identify that is happening. If any behavior repeatedly makes you feel uncomfortable then you are probably not overreacting. The very first step towards countering harassment is to realize that it’s happening. Once you say what it is, you are opening yourself to different possibilities of handling it.

Harassment can be physical, verbal and/or non-verbal, can happen to anyone in any environment, and can be either a ‘one-off’ or a series of incidents.  A key test, though, is how the victim is made to feel by the behaviour. European Community Code of Practice describes it as unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex, affecting the dignity of women and men at work. This can include unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct. According to Louisa Symington-Mills who works in private equity as a COO and is founder and CEO of City mothers and City fathers, & is The Telegraph’s careers agony aunt. ‘No one should have to endure such behaviour in the workplace – or anywhere else. Behaviour that is unwelcome and intimidating can transform an office environment from harmonious to odious, and may have immediate implications on the health and happiness of the recipient, as well the wellbeing of those that work closely with them.’ Determining whether or not a comment or action directed towards you is inappropriate is often subjective, but if you feel upset and uncomfortable as a result, then it’s very likely to be – and may even be harassment.’

There are two types of sexual harassment Quid Pro Quo- The name for this type of harassment is Latin for “this for that.” In essence, this type of harassment occurs when an employer says that they will give an employee this job, this promotion, or this benefit, for that sexual favor. Hostile Environment- This type of harassment is much more difficult to pin down. It occurs when the harassing behavior creates a hostile, negative work environment for the employee .

Many harassers use several types of excuses to vindicate themselves such as; 1] ‘S he laughed at my joke so I thought she didn’t mind’ Some employees feel obligated to participate or laugh for fear of being negatively judged so just because they smiled doesn’t mean they are not uncomfortable.  2] ‘ It happened on a business trip, so it doesn’t count’ Whether it took place in an office environment or outside, it doesn’t change the context and is still counted as harassment. 3] ‘ It was just a compliment’ Compliments that make the other person uneasy some under harassment too. 4] ‘ It only happened once’ It’s still harassment, whether it happened once or 20 times. 5] ‘ The comments were directed at someone else’ If you witness inappropriate comments (such as your colleague commenting on how someone else might be in bed, without that person present) you can still file a sexual harassment complaint. 6] ‘ Sexual harassment is all about sex, and sex didn’t happen’ inappropriate touching and verbal harassment direct or indirect cannot be discounted. ‘ This is the way I’ve grown up; you can’t expect me to change’ Other people at your workplace are not expected to accommodate and adjust to what you think is socially acceptable or consider a norm.

The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board states that unwelcome behavior can fall into seven categories; Sexual teasing, remarks, jokes, or questions; Pressure for dates; Letters, e-mail, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature; Sexual looks or gestures; Deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching; Pressure for sexual favors; Actual/attempted sexual assault or rape. Other behaviors include displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace; staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling; making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts; Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person; asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone’s sexual history or their sexual orientation


The second important step is to realize that if you are being harassed, it’s not your fault, and it has nothing to do with your actions or who you are as a person. Take control of your emotions and detach yourself from the abuse. You did not incur this on yourself, nor do you deserve it. Also, you are not alone.

More than half of the women say they have been sexually harassed at work and most admit to not reporting it, new research by the TUC suggests. A survey of 1500 people saw 52% cite the problem and also found a third had been subjected to unwelcome jokes and a quarter experienced unwanted touching. TUC head Frances O’Grady said it left women feeling ashamed and frightened. Many of those who told their stories also said they felt unable to report what had happened to them because they felt embarrassed or feared they would lose their job. A survey carried out two years ago by Slater & Gordon found , whilst more than a third reported a senior male colleague had made inappropriate comments about their body or the clothes they were wearing.

Image by Gratisography women harassed3


Many such examples exist wherein when you leave the harassers unhooked, they come back again and again, each time more audacious than before. Another example is of a Senior Account Manager at an HR company. She has been working for her current employer for 13 months, but struggles with unwanted attention from her boss. She narrates: “ The harassment started soon after I joined , but I was the new girl, so I didn’t want to kick up a fuss – and it was only the odd comment about how I looked. “Now he says personal things about me – things I wouldn’t like to repeat – and is always trying to touch me. I feel physically sick at going to work. Living in London is expensive, so I can’t just leave my job (although I am looking). I’ve no rights, so they can fire me for causing trouble – and even if could take legal action I know a tribunal would be unlikely to find in my favour.”

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the example above, and many more such as this story of another Uber survivor , the moment you decide to ignore or let go of a harasser there is no looking back. Ignoring or avoiding the abuser may seem the safest way, but it’s actually more harmful; the victim suffers in silence and the problem doesn’t get resolved. Trying to appease the abuser or complying with him is no solution either. Bullying or Harassment is a power struggle. Once you give into one demand, they will push for more.


According to a training by , you should start with a verbal notice and tell the harasser what they are doing is not acceptable immediately in a calm, unemotional tone of voice. In my article published in the Huffpost on I suggest that ‘if they are invading your comfort zone in terms of physical space, place a physical boundary (like a desk) between you and them, or ask them to step back. If emotional space is being threatened, such as asking personal questions or offering unwarranted advice, tell them to stop, politely yet firmly.’ A statement like, “Get your hands off,” is firm, assertive rather than aggressive, and non-negotiable.

You should also start keeping a written record of events, times, dates, and people that witnessed the events. Even if the issue is resolved at this first step, you need to document what happened. Give stronger warnings and notice that you will report the harasser. If the harasser continues his/her behavior, repeat the first step but make it stronger. Something like, “I have already told you to stop touching me. If you don’t stop, I will report you for harassment,” repeats the original message, and is still assertive and non-negotiable. Make sure you keep your tone of voice calm and unemotional. Issue written warnings. Keep a record. Keep you tone of voice and body language assertive as it will be crucial in deterring the harassers.

Write the person an e-mail or letter and send it to them. This letter should be done the same way the other warnings were: firm, assertive, and non-negotiable. It should restate the points you made in your verbal warnings. Make sure you do not threaten the harasser; stay as unemotional as possible. Also make sure you keep a copy of these letters for your records.

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If you have been unable to deter your harasser or if you feel that there is serious risk in confronting your harasser (such as being physically harmed or losing your job) Velsoft next recommends going to your manager, your company’s Human Resources department, or the company’s harassment officer. They will typically give you their opinion about the claim: whether it is more or less serious than the complainant perceives and what options s/he has next. Be aware that this step may place your complaint on record. And, no matter what the outcome of this meeting, be sure to record its details and add it to your log of events.


This step turns the complaint into a formal process. Both parties (the complainant and the alleged harasser) have a lot at stake here: their reputation, their job, and possibly their career. According to Velsoft,  if you have events documented and recorded, you will feel a lot more secure in raising a formal complaint. However, be aware that this step will probably bring the issue to the attention of your co-workers. Investigators usually try to maintain your privacy as much as possible, but they will likely need to talk to your co-workers to confirm events. The process of raising a complaint is not always a bitter and prolonged one. Sometimes the harasser and the complainant can meet to discuss the incident(s) and come out with a better understanding of each other and what happened. If your harassment issue has not been resolved by the first four steps, this will be the last opportunity to resolve it in-house.


In most countries, there is an agency that governs against harassment and discrimination. You should consult with an attorney before filing a complaint with this organization or agency. Some areas have time limits; the EEOC in the United States, for example, requires filing no later than 180 to 300 days after the alleged incident, depending on the state where you live.


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I do realize that the above points may be helpful but not easy to implement. And that many organisations and particularly the HR department may not be very supportive either. In an article written by a 20 years old veteran of HR, Laurie Ruettimann, Laurie states that HR departments in America operate under a dubious mandate: ‘Keep workers engaged and happy, but make sure nobody sues the company’ She encourages victims to therefore, channel their inner Susan Fowler when someone sexually harasses them. She asks victims to follow Susan Fowler’s example and to follow the chain of command at their company. ‘Report the incident.’ she says, ‘Then leverage your network and start your job search. Once you find a new job, use the internet to tell every single human being on the planet about your experience. Leave a review on Glassdoor, start an anonymous blog, or even create a Twitter account and share bits and pieces of your story in a tweetstorm. Find ways to tell prospective candidates to apply elsewhere’

Laurie also admits that some women aren’t in a position to quit their jobs. And that they can’t freely look for work, either, due to the time and stress involved in the interview process. ‘They depend on their pay check and can’t afford to rock the boat. Going to work and paying attention to their personal lives is just about enough. HR needs to work harder to protect those employees from hostile work environments’ But she also asks people to look in the past for lessons on how to rally around one another and create supportive environments at work. ‘Change the system that weighs you down.’ She adds. Laurie recommends women should unionize without unionizing and ‘If you feel like your interests aren’t being looked after, don’t wait for HR to solve your problem. Find your peers, share your concerns, and craft a plan to tackle the work-related issues that are plaguing your lives.’


Life is often hard and unfair. You need to learn to fight your own battles. Don’t always depend on other people to come to your rescue. You need to be your own saviour. Nothing is more important than your self-respect and integrity and only you can make everyone else realize that too. It’s never too late to stand up and fight your own battle. As they say ‘The best time to start was yesterday, the next best time is now’ and once you have stood up and fought your own battle successfully, come forward and help others fight theirs. Perhaps even start a of your own?

Hira Ali is the C.E.O of as well as Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise . She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Professional Coach & NLP Practitioner. She tweets @advancingyou and can be contacted at [email protected]

Episode 3- Conversation with R&R Shero Gull Khan

Gull Khan is a Magnanimous Money Mastery Expert (MMM Expert) and works with Female business Executives and Entrepreneurs to help them blast through their income glass ceiling and to simultaneously start building their savings and investment portfolio.

As a trained healer, she helps people get out of their stuck, repetitive patterns by removing the Unseen Energetic blocks from their Electromagnetic Field.

She uses her innovative transformation techniques to upgrade vibration and moves her clients into a higher energetic frequency, aligned with their manifestation goals.

Why she does this?

Before this, she was a Corporate Lawyer and has worked for some of the Top Companies and Law Firms in the world.

Gull changed her profession because she is on a personal mission to empower females financially. She is a domestic abuse survivor and she has come to realize that unless females are financially independent they leave themselves open to all sort of abuse, ranging from physical to sexual to verbal to emotional! THIS HAS TO STOP. The way forward is to empower every female financially.

Listen to this very inspiring conversation where Gull Khan talks about issues many people don’t like talking about. She explains that domestic abuse has nothing to do with class. Unfortunately, countless females today belonging to various classes are experiencing an abusive relationship. An abusive relationship does not necessarily imply physical abuse only but also includes verbal and financial abuse. In her conversation with me, Gull brings the much-needed awareness on this tabooed topic. The dilemma is that though many women experience abuse, they either do not realize and fail to label it or too scared to confess, It’s important to know that verbal abuse and gaslighting by partners is just as detrimental and unhealthy as is physical abuse and needs to be stopped. Gull believes that a lot of negative energy is passed on to women, especially, if they have seen their parents experiencing similar mental blocks or negative relationships.

Gull also believes that in the day and age of today, it is important for females to learn how to be financially independent and through her transformative strategies she empowers women to do exactly that!

You can listen to this very inspirational episode on

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You can contact Gull Khan in the following ways:

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Gull Khan

Business and Personal Coach; Intuitive Coach; Energy and EFT Practitioner; Author and International speaker: http://secretdoortosuccess.com/