‘Ask Betsy’ Tackles Developing BCM as a Woman in Developing Nations

Both in the Women in BCM – Ask Betsy webinar and live at DRI2019, we encouraged you to send in your burning questions for our presenter, BCM veteran Betsy Sayers, MBCP, and you delivered! We’re pleased to present the next installment in a continuing Q&A series. 

Q: Implementing Business Continuity in developing countries is very challenging; and when you are a woman in BCM, you also have to deal with the cultural challenges a woman has to face. You are seen as emotional in place of being passionate. How can I counteract this perception?

Betsy: Oh dear, this is a really, really tough question and one we all face, but you no doubt are dealing with a much more difficult challenge than those of us working in North America only.

Overcoming cultural bias within a team is tough, within a company is tougher, but country-wide social bias is not something we can overcome alone. In some countries my heart goes out to women who have given their lives trying to do this.

Depending on where you are when trying to deal with this challenge, it may be impossible to overcome.  The only thing you can do is somehow find peace within yourself to accept that some service owners will never do this no matter what you do and that’s not a reflection on your skills, abilities or service delivery.

Because of my passion for BCM, I was often emotional. At first I had to ‘act’ like I didn’t care if their input was accurate or not, whether they exercised this year or not or whether I knew they were lying to me about their capability. Then I’d go find a quiet place to vent my frustration held in while acting.  When I suspected they were not telling me the truth I simply replied “That’s terrific! Let’s demonstrate that to the rest of the company in our upcoming corporate exercise.” After only saying this once or twice, it got back to me that they were now saying in their own meetings, “Don’t tell her that, she’ll make us demonstrate it at an exercise.” Sometimes you have allies you don’t even know exist.

Keep reminding yourself you are a ‘program manager’ not wholly responsible for the quality of the content your company’s business service managers put in their portion of the Corporate BCP you are responsible for. They own the service not you. You own the BCM program.

Be passionate about your program. Make it the best BCM program in the entire world. Accept that you are not ‘CEO of everything’ in your company and that having a terrific program is what you are responsible for.

This is all very easy for me to say and very hard for us to do. We are genetically programmed to take care of others. We were programmed as children to recognize it was our job to take care of others just as little boys were programmed to be tough. We were always taught that “honesty is the best policy” and I’m suggesting you “act like you don’t care.”

I wish there was a magic solution to your question that I could guarantee works 100% of the time.  We’ve come a long way in business and society in general, but we still have a long way to go.  Remember we can always help support each other and all other forms of bullying and prejudice by saying something when we see something.

Take care…Betsy