Start by Empowering Our Daughters Years Before Their Careers Start

The policy of gender equality has changed the professional landscape. It has affected what it means to run firms. There are many posts on LinkedIn with hashtags like #investinginwomen; #women’s efforts; #womensupportwomen; #female founders; among many

All of these are laudable goals. The question I’m asking is, “Why does it seem like empowerment only starts and becomes more intense when women start their careers?”

I believe that women’s empowerment starts earlier, with parents and family, towards daughters. The formative years are the best time to empower daughters who become capable professionals. Daughters at this time absorb empowerment more deeply and benefit from it longer, sooner than waiting until they start their careers.

Another question I ask is, “Who is more qualified to empower daughters who become highly skilled professionals than their own father, mother, siblings?”

A father who is a real man can share an example of professional behavior; appropriate skills and knowledge for development; and place expectations on their daughters for standards of proper treatment and conduct for men in business dealings.

A father who is a real man, through his relationship with his wife, demonstrates to his daughters the right dynamics and expectations from personal relationships. He strongly influences the standards that daughters set for their future partners and spouses.

A father who is a real man sets an example and guidance to his sons, brothers of his daughters, how to protect and take care of the family. These examples also provide compelling information about how sons should treat women in all respects, whether personal or professional.

A mother who is a real woman sets an example among daughters and sisters in terms of providing emotional support and empowering women both personally and professionally.

Sisters form another important support group that gives the daughter and future professional strength for life. Business relationships, jobs and careers are changing; but siblings are bonded for life. If you can’t trust sisters, who can you trust?

This illustrates an important message: a family, led by father and mother, with the constancy of siblings, empowers a daughter as she becomes a capable professional. It shows powerful examples of empowerment starting at age 7. By the time she turns 22, the professional woman will have 15 years of family authority.

Complementing this is knowing what skills and qualities to encourage the development of daughters. I argue that the important skills are: critical and interdisciplinary thinking; interrogation for insight; rhetoric development of confidence; and independent thinking.

Critical thinking begins with the discipline of daughters asking “why?” and filters relevant information down to first principles. Interdisciplinary thinking involves bringing disparate perspectives from different fields into problem solving and using them to synthesize a new approach to understanding, resulting in new solutions.

Insight questions emphasize the importance of daughters not taking a “false” point of view. We ask because we seek to clarify and understand; Because knowledge and a correct understanding are preferable to a misjudgment of the facts under the guise of an easy consensus.

Rhetoric encourages daughters to use the art of effective and persuasive speaking and writing. More than any skill, mastery of rhetoric separates candidates for future leaders from followers. Not enough people know effective rhetoric. It can be said that the bar for excellence has been set low. With enough effort and smartness, daughters can easily excel in this area.

The development of confidence suggests that the daughter knows herself and how to properly position herself in the world. A person does not develop misplaced confidence if they have a strong sense of self, a knowledge of their skills and limitations, and a respect for not pushing the limits of their abilities.

Independent thinking can be considered a rare attribute in this age of massive social media and herd “challenge” on TikTok and other platforms. Having more people behind a consensus does not make a wrong consensus a right one. Daughters can develop the fortitude to think independently, and they will be rewarded for it.

The whole family can help develop these skills and empower daughters by spending time around the dinner table; family conversations during downtime; and any number of times to talk and ask questions. Private conversations between father and daughter while traveling are ideal.

Time encapsulates the key ingredient. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters spending time together; asking questions, speaking, challenging, learning and mentoring; creates a powerful environment for these daughters to grow into empowered professional women.

Start as early as possible. If you focus on empowering women, once they enter the professional world, there’s too much time to catch up and it’s too late. Start by empowering our daughters.

At the time of this writing, Raúl Villegas has retired from PwC Isla Lipana & Co., where he served as Managing Director and led the consulting practices in deal strategy, value creation and business due diligence.

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