When we see a successful person, as human nature dictates, we either admire them or envy them. We put them on a pedestal and mistakenly assume that they’ve always been on that elevated level. We ignore the possibility that they must have indeed faced their own share of struggles and challenges and that the reason that they have reached such heights is because they dared to pursue their goals, regardless of all obstacles.

Dr. Zeelaf Munir is one such personality. A psychiatrist by profession, Dr. Zeelaf Munir is the current Managing Director and CEO of EBM. Her 20-year career is much like the woman herself; enterprising, dynamic and purposeful. An ardent advocate of women empowerment, she has worked as the President of APPNA (Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America), been an active member of various NGOs and has also participated as a coveted speaker at various Pakistan-American conferences.

It is worth mentioning here that this female corporate powerhouse was initially not inclined towards growing a career in the corporate world. It was, in fact, her insights into the human psyche along with strong leadership qualities that eventually helped her earn a prominent spot within the business world.

As part of her continuous drive and initiative to promote women empowerment within the corporate sector, Dr. Munir recently, took part in a panel discussion on the subject at the AdAsia 2019 Congress held in Lahore. There, she shared her journey towards success – the highs and lows she faced, her efforts in breaking the glass ceiling of parental and societal expectations and inculcating a women-friendly culture and collaborative work environment.

She also expressed her views on gender bias as well as the conscious and unconscious prejudices that women face in the workplace. As she spoke about her journey, it was evident that she had worked hard to inculcate an enabling environment that would help translate, monitor, and report on the implementation of gender equality. Her views are based on the belief that men and women should have the same opportunities to climb the corporate ladder, assuming each had the same level of aptitude, experience and qualifications. “Bias of privilege is the rose with extra thorns. I came from a privileged background, yet, I had to prove it through extreme hard work!”, she said.

While talking about workplace diversity, she added, “People with different backgrounds tend to have different experiences and thus, different perspectives. Exposure to a variety of different perspectives and views leads to greater creativity. Companies who have greater workplace diversity are known to outperform their competitors and achieve higher profits.”

Recently, EBM was given the award for “Best Place to Work”, an accolade that speaks for their progressive work culture. EBM has been known to care deeply about the growth and well-being of its employees, a sentiment that deeply reflected in Dr Zeelaf Munir’s speech.

While discussing inclusivity and innovation in detail, Dr. Zeelaf Munir added, “At EBM, we have developed an open and shared culture that promotes innovation. When you manage it properly, employees will be inspired to come up with ideas and solutions that can lead to unimaginable business opportunities.”

The powerful session concluded with her last message, “Strive to be gender-neutral and treat your sons and daughters equally!”

It is clear that Dr. Zeelaf has given us a motto for women empowerment as well as a strategy on how to tackle gender bias at the workplace and beyond. It is now up to leading organizations and enterprises on how to implement such practices.

— Hina Ghaffar