Embarking on a transformation Journey named PGPX : Full time 1 Year MBA at IIM Ahmedabad

The choices you make will define who you become– Shikha Sharma, Axis Bank CEO

The word “transformation” means : “a marked change in form, nature or appearance”. More than the definition, two words listed as antonyms (sameness, stagnation) give us insight into why organizations, countries or Individuals embark on any transformation journey. We do not want sameness or stagnation and we seek change outside and within. I too decided to embark on such transformation journey named PGPX – residential full time 1 year MBA program at IIM Ahmedabad . Its been few weeks and I want to share my experience so far:

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Inauguration of 12th batch of PGPX

Most difficult part is making the decision to disrupt the status quo

After working for 12 years, I decided to go back to school. This decision was the hardest decision of my life as by this time I also had the responsibility of 2 children and a home. I was overborne with guilt of leaving children behind. I was also scared of living alone without family after a long time. My mind was full of apprehensions and dilemmas whether it was a right decision to disrupt not only my professional and personal life but also life of my children and spouse. It was indeed a hard and brave decision to make as often expressed by others to me. This is the phase where many women instead decide to drop their plan or ambition as they fear the disruption such drastic change will cause in their lives. If you are contemplating this decision, my advice to you would be to go for it. Once you are past this difficult decision making phase and have made up your mind, it becomes easier. It is entirely doable and worth the sacrifices you would make.

Change is completely disruptive (even more if you stay alone without family)

You suddenly arrive in a new city and start living in a totally new environment- a new city, a college campus, a hostel room. You eat in cafeteria and go to a class instead of office. How amazingly different life can become overnight hits you and there is initial resistance but within few days you start settling in and in few weeks start loving it. Just hang in there and go with the flow.

Rigor, fast pace and intensity of program is effective and actually helpful

No time to settle in or take it slow. It is overwhelming in the beginning but gets you to speed pretty quickly and is actually very helpful in dealing with emotions and the drastic change. When I took decision to join the program and in months before start of program, even the thought of staying without my children was enough to make me teary eyed and guilt ridden. It was in-fact not as tough as I imagined and post initial settling period hiccups, the rigor and fast pace of program left no time to miss home. Intellectual engagement in class and group studies and tight schedule of program immerses you completely into it and keeps you focused on tasks at hand which are plenty at any point of time.

Always remind yourself why you are here.

This is specially relevant to women such as me who chose to not bring family to campus. There are emotional moments of living away from family such as when you video-chat with family and you see your children or when they tell you that they miss you or when you miss seeing them, hugging them or being with them. In such vulnerable moments, it is helpful to remind yourself the purpose of coming here. Keeping the focus on the purpose of staying away from family will make your resolve stronger and will give you strength in dealing with your emotions. It is a hard choice but there must be some good reason why you still made that choice. It would be good to also acknowledge that this is a temporary stay and having made sacrifice of staying away from your family, you must make most of every second of it.

Only you exist.

If you are a woman and a mother, When was last time you could only do what you wanted to do even for 24 hours. When was last time your thoughts about work or self were not interrupted by thoughts about issues waiting at home – children’s home- work, classes or other responsibilities at home. When was last time you just lived life as you, the person. May be before marriage and kids. It is almost like a time travel. After so many years of living a multiple role life, you suddenly reclaim your earlier life without any additional responsibilities of being a wife and mother. You do miss your family but at the same time, you can’t help to not notice how free you are to focus on only you and your needs. Its like on those overwhelming moments of conflicting demands of work, children and home, you wished running off somewhere and staying alone for sometime and that wish has come true. Live it fully before it gets over.

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Honored to inaugurate the program along with IIM A Director and Program Chair.

It is a modern day “tapasya”

During the inauguration of program, PGPX chair Prof Sunil Sharma gave an excellent analogy of PGPX to a tapasya. Earlier, sages used to go to forest to do tapasya for some time to gain deeper knowledge, or to find purpose of life . I feel like doing a tapasya. I have left everything behind – my home, spouse, children and my life to come to this place and do one thing for a year – to learn as much as I can. To learn from anyone I can. To learn anytime I can. The greatest opportunity cost while we are here would be to let our focus deviate to anything other than learning.

Learning is the key

I can feel the excitement a child feels when he opens a new gift and likes what he sees. He cant wait to play with it. Its only been few weeks and I am loving the experience so far. When and where am I going to get all time to myself, to think, to introspect and to reflect upon my past and future. I am already starting to feel that this is going to get over very quickly. I look forward to each new day, each new class, each new assignment, each new interaction with professors or peer because in each one of them lies the opportunity of learning and transforming myself.

Note: PGPX office is inviting applications for Year 2018-19 batch. Click here for details.

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Women Empowerment lessons from movie Dangal

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“Maari chhoriyan  chhoron se kam hai ke”

Translated in english it means – ” Are my girls any less than boys?

What a line. If one line can transform lives, then it has to be this line which summarizes the core of this inspiring story. It is this belief of Mahavir Singh Phogat, the erstwhile wrestler that changes the destiny of phogat daughters and of future generations of women wrestlers. This is such a powerful line and shows through movie the potential of outcomes when girls are believed to be equal to boys. The movie Dangal which is a biopic on women wrestling champions -Geeta and Babita Phogat is special because it depicts an inspiring journey of a father and his girls who dare to dream and make that dream come true even when all adds were stacked up against them.

Odd # 1 Family lives in  socially regressive Haryana infamous for skewed sex ratio, female feticide and khaps.

Odd # 2 Lower middle class family with limited resources and more vulnerable to societal pressure. ” What people will say” matters in that world.

Odd # 3 Choosing a uncoventional career which is unfavorable to women – wrestling. Traditionally wrestling has been a male domain and when you imagine a wrestler, you imagine a man. It was akin to imagining the unimaginable, doing the undoable.

Geeta won gold at commonwealth games and has been the first woman wrestler from India to qualify in Olympics. The legendary story of Mahavir Phogat making wrestling champions out of his daughters is told through a high-profile motion picture – Dangal and has also many lessons for women empowerment. Let’s take a look at them:

Lesson # 1  Children’s(specially girls) destiny lies in hands of parents to a larger extent.

While it is true everywhere and for all children, this is particularly true for Girls in India specially in small towns, in regressive societies and lower socioeconomic families. The eureka moment was when the father realises that his daughters have potential and the gender doesn’t matter in fulfilling his dream of making his child an international wrestling champion. What matters is that parents believe in gender equality and provide girls equal opportunities and choices. It was a girl who was being married off at young age and was unhappy about it makes young Geeta and Babita see that how lucky they are to have a father like Mahavir who has not thrown them into life of early marriage/domesticity and is giving them a shot at life same as any son would have got. Indeed if it was not for a social barriers breaking father like Mahavir Singh Phogat, Geeta and Babita’s destinies would have been same as other girls of their age, place and time. There would have been neither the inspiring story nor the movie to write about.

Lesson# 2 Social Barriers, Stereotypes and glass ceilings have to be broken once and they remain broken for all.

While the movie mainly covered the journey of Geeta’s making into a wrestling champion and it mirrors the life of similar other women wrestlers. Why Geeta’s story is significant because it was she and with her Mahavir Phogat who breaks first time the social barriers  and gender stereotypes.  On every step of the journey , a stereotype or social barrier was broken and prevailing rulebook was challenged :

  • Girls starting physical training to be wrestler.
  • Girls shunning traditional wear for boys clothes – shorts and Tee
  • Girls cutting the long hair for boy cut. Even mother cried here.
  • Cooking non vegetarian food in a vegetarian household. Mother too resisted this.
  • Wrestling with boys in dangal.
  • Mocked by school friends, neighbors, sports officials and who not.

When Babita or other girls would have gone through same path, it must have been somewhat easier for them as the glass ceiling was already broken and rule book already changed. It was now under imagination that a girl can also be a wrestler. That’s why it is so important for any glass ceilings/ barriers/stereotypes to be broken first time as it paves the way for others who would walk the same path. Somebody has to break the social barriers and barriers remain broken for all. It not only serves the person breaking it but indirectly empowers all who come after them and that’s why their stories are celebrated and lauded.

Lesson # 3  Conviction. Focus on goals. Self Belief. Hard work. Sacrifices & trade-offs.

Evergreen recipe for success. Father’s conviction in his own dreams and in turning that dream into reality led to convictions of all around him, mother and daughters themselves. There were also sacrifices made. The phogat girls didn’t have normal childhood or any other regular pleasures of children of their age in pursuit of a larger goal in life.

Lesson # 4 Success changes everyone’s negative attitude into positive

The same society which was mocking the phogat family starts respecting them and welcomes the champion Geeta like a hero and she becomes pride of her village. Even though society and others will discourage girls from pursuing their dreams or any unconventional career but if you achieve success, fame and money, the same people will not only accept you but also respect you. Success changes people’s perspectives and persepctives matter.

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Real Mahavir Singh Phogat with his girls and medals. Source: Rediff.com

Night before the final bout of commonwealth games, father tells Geeta that this fight is not only with opponent but with the ” mindset” that girls are not equal to boys and this mindset is root cause for gender inequality, denying girls opportunities to life, career and choices. Cheers to Geeta who proved his father’s belief in her right but she couldn’t have done if it had not been for his father, the real hero of this story, Mahavir Singh Phogat- a brave man, an inspiring father and a social barriers shattering figure not only for his daughters but for all young girls and their parents in this country. Salute to him for believing that “maari chhoriyan chhoro se kam hain ke”.

The road to gender equality in workplace passes through home.

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Quite a few panel of experts and task forces have been set up to strategize on how to increase women representation in workplaces. What does not get due attention is the glaring gender inequality when it comes to sharing household chores at home. Women are not only struggling with the gender gap at work but also with chores gap at home. Traditionally home and children responsibilities rested with a woman and that was fair when women stayed home full time to look after home and children. Even as women are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the workforce, women still do most of the household chores and childcare leading to working two shifts – one in office and second at home.

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Social structures, Attitudes and extreme Gender stereotypes .

Gender inequalities in all areas are rooted in social structures but also in attitudes,” As per Professor Gillian Robinson, of the University of Ulster. For centuries women have been seen as care taker of home and children. It is very hard for larger part of society to break that stereotype mould and see a woman as a person with her own career dreams and ambitions. The problem is acute in socially conservative countries such as India where a man spends only 19 minutes per day on household work . In India, if a husband helps with household chores and with child care, the mother-in-law does not appreciate it because she thinks it is a woman’s responsibility. Though the new generation is changing and supporting women pursuing their careers, the older generation is sticking to the stereotypical expectations from daughter in law to take care of home and children irrespective of working full time in a job.

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Few ways in which chores gap could be closed:

Be assertive. Set the ground rules on sharing household responsibilities in the beginning itself.

Whether it is arranged marriage or love, you keep the views on sharing household work as fundamental principle on which both must agree. If any man is just and fair, he should have no reasons to not agree to share the workload at home if both the partners are working full-time. Unless you ask for it, why would anyone let go of the privilege a man has been awarded to sit and be served hot meals on the table. It is a check at ideological level and compatibility on this shared value is key to continuing your career in future stages of life with increasing load of additional responsibilities. On a lighter note, if it works as any incentive to a man – it is said  that no woman argues with a man doing household chores.

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This data is for US households. For Indian households, time spent by men on household activities is just 19 minutes per day.

Outsourcing household work to third-parties.

If at all, you are in a situation where due to any reason, your husband can not share the workload at home, next best option is to outsource the work to a third-party, if you can afford it. It is still better than doing the unequal share of work at home. Though parenting and overseeing household management can not be outsourced and would need to be shared.

Social Messaging has to get right.

Only women are shown doing household chores such as laundry or cleaning dishes. You take any advertisement of any product used in household chores, you would invariably see a woman doing it. The correct and fair messaging showing men also doing house chores can play a positive role in closing chores gap at home. Lately there have been some advertisements(Ariel #ShareTheLoad, a very good one) showing how unfair it is for working women to do all the work at home in addition to their office work. Even if it doesn’t change anything immediately, such constant messaging through popular communication channels would increase the awareness and possibly wake up the conscious of men, leading to a favourable change in attitude towards sharing chores load at home

 Raise children teaching the value of equal allocation of work at home

Sons are being raised as they have no responsibilities at home and daughters are being raised as it is going to their duty to take care of everything at home. Real change will come when children would see both the parents doing household chores. A new study this year showed that daughters are more likely to envision working outside of the home if their dad did household chores.When young boys and girls would see their dad also cooking, doing laundry and dishes, they would automatically internalize that this is how household work should be managed between a husband and a wife. Children always believe what they see rather than what you tell them. Creating an equal and fair environment at home will go long way in raising children with right values and a society which is just and fair to all.

Closing gender gap at home is key to closing gender gap in workplaces

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In a fair and just world, house responsibilities should be equally shared between man and woman, if both are working full time. But it is not the reality, men are yet not volunteering to share the workload at home though it is changing slowly. Many a time, a woman has to leave her job and exit the workforce to take care of home/children full-time because she is not able to manage both. The path to gender equality  in workplaces passes through the gender equality at home. Till we don’t close the gender gap in managing household responsibilities, working women would be overburdened with responsibilities of work and home. Women would be forced to make compromises on career, aborting their ambitions and letting go of opportunities to fully realize their potentials. We are not going to see more women in corner offices and boardrooms until we see men more in kitchen and laundry rooms.

Speak Up. Be Heard. Be Noticed

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Image Source: LinkedIn

Women speak up less than men do in work settings at least and I have noticed this throughout my career. If I have only one advice to give to working women to advance their career, it would be to “speak up”. When you speak up, you make your presence felt and shine the light on your potential. It can take courage to speak up – whether for your rights, your opinions, or for something in which you believe deeply. This single most change of speaking up more can empower women not only in workplaces but in overall society.

Why should women speak up more in workplace ?

  1. To make your presence felt. To be heard and noticed. To add value

In global economy and workplaces, not all meetings are in person. In a telecon meeting, if you don’t announce yourself and don’t speak up at all, you very well might not have been attended the meeting. It is important to make your presence felt by participating and contributing to a discussion. There is a reason why you have been included in a meeting and you should strive to earn your seat in a meeting and add value to it.

2.  Speaking up is critical to your growth at the company

Every meeting is an opportunity to  display your leadership potential and to build your professional brand. One can  achieve it  through speaking up at appropriate moments. Every time you remain silent, treat it as an opportunity lost. Keep a count of it and you would start speaking up. You need to earn believers in your ability to advance ahead. Speaking up more has been linked to displaying leadership potential. You earn your mentors and sponsors by speaking up and displaying potential.

 

3. Speaking up builds self-confidence – the secret ingredient for long-term success.

Confidence is not a static thing It keeps changing and you need to keep replenishing any loss of it. Speaking up has been found to be helpful in building confidence not only in yourself but of others in you. Mustering the courage to speak up can add volumes to your confidence. Just hearing your own voice in a meeting has been linked to contribute to an increased self-esteem.

4. Speaking up can get you promotions, salary raises and help

Humility is a great virtue but not so in workplace. Do not silently keep toiling and expect others to make a note of it and reward you. You shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for a promotion or to be recognised for your contributions. Do not maintain a stoic silence in those crucial performance appraisal discussions. Speak up for yourself and your efforts. In juggling between dual responsibilities of office and home, do not be afraid to ask for flexibility in work or any considerations which might help you in your work. Make your case and put it across assertively. If you don’t ask for it, you would never get it.  If you ask for it, you may or may not get it but you still at least have a shot at it.

5. Lastly, Speak up when something’s not right

Sometimes people cross lines in behaviour. You need to speak up the first time it happens. Speak up and say no firmly to an inappropriate behaviour or request. Do not be afraid of consequences. Do not let your silence be misunderstood for tacit approval.

Here are some tips on how you can speak up more and make your presence felt.

  1. speak-up-2Believe in yourself. Don’t be hesitant to put your thoughts across

Most of the things come down to your self-confidence. Speaking up publicly not only requires good communication skills and good content but also confidence and courage within. Women need to keep working on their self-confidence and self worth.It is a known fact that women speak less in meetings not because they don’t have anything to say but because they are not confident that they would add value. Even when they speak, they are apologetic about interrupting or making a point.  Don’t hesitate or apologise. Just speak up.

2. Do not judge and disqualify your opinion as not worthy of mention.

As many a times, women out themselves from a race to the top, so do women themselves disqualify their point of views as something which would not add value to the discussion. You don’t decide that. In fact you earn your seat in meeting and add value by contributing to the discussion. If you are merely present and just absorbing information, you are not adding value to others and to the discussion.

3. Be prepared. Do your homework. Make your notes.

Prepare for your meetings and presentations. Go over the agenda, brainstorm and make notes of points you would like to make. Make notes while meeting is going on. Being prepared would not only add  value to quality of your point of view but also to your self-confidence. Being prepared makes you feel ready and you look forward to the meeting to participate and contribute.

4. Learn the language of assertiveness

Using correct language can help in being assertive. Women tend to tone down assertiveness with use of defensive language and starting sentences with phrases such as ” I think” or “I feel”. Sometimes these might indicate you are not sure of your opinions. Rather use starting sentences which convey certainty such as ” I believe”, ” I am sure” or “from my experience , this is what i have seen”. Handle interruptions with declarative sentences such as ” I haven’t  finished what I am saying”. Be assertive.

4. Practice, Practice and more Practice

Practice makes perfect. Start with small meetings. Build confidence. After a while speaking up in meetings would start coming naturally to you. Even if you have been the silent majority in meetings, make an effort. If speaking up doesn’t come naturally to you, force yourself to speak up at least once in a meeting to start with. Once you are comfortable with speaking up, focus on content and adding value through the quality of your point of view.

It is not that women act differently in workplace and outside of it. A confident women who is not hesitant to voice her opinion would most likely do the same wherever she is – in office, at home or a party. To be a confident woman in workplace one day, a girl needs to grow up to be a confident woman with a mind of her own. Parents need to encourage their daughters to speak up more. Teachers need to be cognizant of giving equal opportunity to a raised hand of a girl in class. Community needs to not shut up a girl when she tries to make a point. Nobody should dismiss a girl’s point of view because well, it’s a girl’s point of view. Girls should be taught to not only have a point of view but to also have enough encourage to put across their point of view. Speaking up is akin to standing up for your opinion and for yourself.

 

Power Dressing for Success

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“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it”. – Edith Head

“Dress shabbily and people will remember the dress, dress impeccably and people will remember the woman”. – Coco Chanel

We may not like it but it is a fact that we all judge people by the first impressions they make. Your image is important. According to a survey of business leaders published this year by the Center of Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, two-thirds said that when it comes to getting ahead, image makes a major impact.  Clothes we wear impact not only how we feel about ourselves but also our performance and productivity at work. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, subjects who donned doctors’ lab coats scored higher on attention-related tasks than did those who did not. Power dressing is a tool to convey the message that you are competent, able, ambitious, self-confident, reliable and authoritative. Definition of power dressing as per wikipedia is ” power dressing is a fashion style that enables women to establish their authority in a professional and political environment traditionally dominated by men.” Margaret Thatcher, one of the first female icons of power dressing summed up when asked how power dressing should be for women  “never flashy, just appropriate“.  Power dressing is particularly useful in leadership roles where trust and authority is expected.

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Image Source:Van Heusen
  1. When in doubt, choose formal over casual: Better to end up more formally dressed than casually: Higher the position, more formal the dress code. Formals such as business suit make you look put-together, competent, and trustworthy. Irrespective of context of a meeting, for a leader it is safer to be formally dressed rather than err on casual dressing. If you would have noticed, Men CXOs can hardly be seen in anything other than business suits at least when it comes to business meetings. Unfortunately and fortunately women do not have a single approved dress code like  a business suit when it comes to power dressing. There is lot of variety of what all a  women can wear to work hence leaving scope for subjective judgement which can be good or bad depending on the person. If you are not sure, stick to commonly accepted formals for women such as pantsuits in western wear and churidar kurta in formal fabric such as cotton in Indian wear.
  2. Comfort is king or rather queen: Wear something which you are comfortable in and used to wearing. Do not attempt new styles for any important meeting where the discomfort from dress can distract you or make you conscious and less confident.
  3. Dress appropriately keeping in mind the audience and place. Be Roman in Rome. . Always factor in cultural sensitivities and mix of people you are going to meet.  Make sure what is normal for you for example short skirt or sleeveless top will be not be too bold for a conservative audience and place. If you are going to err, it’s better to be on conservative side than bold side
  4. Avoid revealing and bold clothes: You objective is to not look desirable rather to look business like and keep audience comfortable and focused on your capability rather than on your physical appearance. Studies have shown that wearing revealing clothes to work is negatively correlated with a positive opinion about woman’s capability. Stay away from low necklines, too tight clothes and bling jewellery.
  5. Choose the colors judiciously: Colours of your clothes play an important role in exhibiting power and confidence as colors already have established connotations. Accepted work colours are black (chic), navy (trustworthy), red (dynamic, aggressive), grey (conservative). Go for neutral colors and avoid bright ones like hot pinks, oranges and neons.
  6.  Appear groomed: Hair should be clean and set and should not appear unruly or unkempt. Studies have shown that makeup increases a woman’s confidence but keep makeup discrete and don’t overdo it. Clothes should be clean and ironed properly.
  7.  Wear well fitted clothes : Fit of clothes you wear is more important than your body size/shape and brands of clothes.. Do not opt for either too loose or too tight clothes.

Clothing sends out very powerful messages about who we are, so dress to make a positive impression, dressing for success is a necessary precursor to obtaining it.

How to close the Confidence Gap in Women ?

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Image source: theatlantic.com

I volunteer as a mentor to students and working women on many forums and if I had to group the questions asked in different threads with common themes, can you guess which thread would have the maximum questions? It would be none other than Confidence gap. Right from school students to experienced working women, a common theme running in the background is ” I am not good enough” as evident in questions by school students in forms such as “I am not good at a particular subject or sport” and questions asked by working women, an example :” I don’t have good analytical skills” or have a drawback called “career gap” due to break taken to look after children. Many a times what the young girls and women see as skills gap is nothing more than actually a confidence gap.

The Importance of confidence building and why it should start early.

Confidence is key to long-term success and is underestimated for the role it plays. In fact I feel confidence building should be taught as a subject in schools right from kindergarten. Confidence is such an important trait that many a times what we see lacking in a child is actually lack of confidence more than anything else.I can not emphasise more on importance of building confidence in a child. Somewhere while growing up the confidence gap keeps on increasing in girls as compared to  boys. As per data from LeanIn, between elementary and high school, girls self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys

Women have low self-esteem than men has been backed  by research.

A recent study by Wiebke Bleidorn, Ph.D., from the University of California, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has found that the disparity in belief between men and women is universal.The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”

Following are some ways which can help in closing the confidence gap in women

Don’t be apologetic about the dual responsibility of a mother and professional. Instead be proud

Wear your scars on your resume as a soldier or a sportsperson does. It is a proof of your carrying out a responsibility nature has entrusted upon you. I am sure every woman or man out there understands what role a mother plays in our lives.  It does not take away anything from you. In fact motherhood adds dimension to your personality and teaches valuable lessons on patience, prioritization of work and balancing between two important things career and family. What it actually means that you have managing two full-time jobs.

Keep working on your profile. Never take a break from it.

Working on profile does not mean making a new resume. It means working on creating things which can go on your resume. Make it a continuous process of adding value to yourself as a person and a professional. This can be done through many ways such as volunteering for NGO, contributing in networks, professional certifications, doing internships in areas of interest. Even if you are not working fulltime, you must keep working on your profile. By doing so, you not only add skill sets to your profile but also replenish any lost confidence during compromises made to balance career and family responsibilities.

The world will take your own verdict on you.

Be kind to yourself in your SWOT analysis which is the only analysis which really matters. See your skills positively.Confidence is defined as our belief in our ability to succeed at a given task, so what matters is how you rate your ability. Get rid of those lingering self doubts you have been harbouring since childhood.We all are work in progress. Everything can be improved and worked upon if you are willing to doIf you would doubt your own capability, how can you expect anyone else to do otherwise as who can know you better than yourself.

Confidence equality = Gender equality

Important piece in bridging the gender gap is closing the confidence gap. There is an unspoken bias in society where confident outspoken women are labelled bossy or worse bitchy and confident men are called assertive and displaying leadership potential. Being ambitious is a positive trait for men but not so for women.This long running bias has forced women to become subdued and submissive in order to earn the approval of people in workplace and society. This in turn makes women risk averse and more cautious in how they make career decisions. Over the time, women miss out on opportunities and do not realize their full potential.

Before expecting anybody else to do, women have to believe themselves more. Women have to nurture their own self-esteem as much as they nurture their loved ones. Women have to be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they are to others. Most importantly, women have to overcome their fears and stop overestimating the risks and underestimating themselves.To quote Sheryl Sandberg, “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” Give your dreams a try and you might surprise yourself more than others.

Women in workplace 2016 Study : a synopsis

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Image source: http://www.forbes.com

Women in the workplace 2016 is a comprehensive study done by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company to study the state of women in corporate America. Though the study was done in US, the findings are relevant for state of women in corporate India as well.

The research report headline itself tells what details we can expect inside. ” In corporate America, women fall behind early and continue to lose ground with every step” I must admit that as somebody who believes in championing the cause of advancement of women at workplace, I did feel depressed on reading those lines. Its 2016, we are talking about leisure trips to moon, driverless cars, cutting edge technology in every aspect of life and women are still struggling to get ahead at workplace. I wonder if this is the state in a developed country, how would be it in developing countries like India. Though we can see some women leaders in India specially in Banking Industry- Chanda Kochhar, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Naina Lal Kidwai to name a few, but these are  handful of women out of 1.8 million women working in organised sector in India. What’s happening to rest of women working in corporate India? The study throws some light on why we are not seeing more women at top of corporate world. The major reason being decreasing % of women in pipeline with increase in level of hierarchy as depicted by graph below.

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Key findings from the women workplace study 2016.

  1. For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted

  2. Very few women are in line to become CEO

  3. Women are negotiating as often as men—but face push back when they do

  4. Women get less access to senior leaders

  5. Women ask for feedback as often as men—but are less likely to receive it

  6. Women are less interested in becoming top executives—and see the pros and cons of senior leadership differently

Key broader themes as per the study

# 1 : On average, women are promoted and hired at lower rates than men, so far fewer women become senior leaders  

Promotion rates for women lag behind those of men, and the disparity is largest at the first step up to manager—for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted.

“Compared to women, almost twice as many men are hired from the outside as directors—and more than three times as many are hired as SVPs”.

# 2 : At more senior levels, we see women shift from line to staff roles, so very few end up on the path to becoming CEO.

womenintheworkplace2016_2_line_roles

By the time women reach the SVP level, they hold a mere 20 percent of line roles. This hurts their odds of getting the top job because the vast majority of CEOs come from line positions.

“In 2015, 90% of new CEOs were promoted or hired from line roles, and 100% of them were men.”

# 3 : Women are less interested in becoming top executives—and see the pros and cons of senior leadership differently from men

An expected reason behind this would be that women with children would find the dual responsibilities of a CXO position and home challenging but the startling result that even women without children are not interested in top jobs suggests that there are far deep-rooted beliefs women have about themselves and how they see the top job and its challenges.

– Women anticipate a steeper path to the top. Women who aspire to become a top executive are less likely to think they’ll get there than men with the same aspiration—and more likely to worry they won’t be able to manage work and family commitments.

– Women may not think their ideas and contributions carry the same weight as men’s. This could be rooted in the different experiences women and men are having in the workplace.

# 4 : People who do more work at home are less interested in becoming top executives

At every stage in their careers, women do more housework and child care than men—and there appears to be a link between the amount of work people do at home and their leadership ambition

“Women in senior management are seven times more likely than men at the same level to say they do more than half of the housework.”

It is a very important study and companies across the world should look at it carefully and design their gender equality strategies. Actually more than the plan, the bottleneck as always is implementation of the plan. Though gender equality at workplace is high on priority of CEO but slips away from the list when it comes to implementation. Companies have an important role to play in reaching gender equality in society at large by working sincerely towards achieving gender equality at workplace. A fairer, more inclusive work environment will lead to more engaged employees. A more diverse workforce will lead to stronger organizations which would lead to better business results. Long term benefits of gender equality at workplace go beyond companies and employees by not only strengthening the world economy but also making  world a fair and just place for half of its population. It is a worthy goal to go after!

You can read the complete report at link below.

Reference : https://womenintheworkplace.com/