While interacting with managers across different levels across different organizations, I am often faced with this question- what’s all the fuss on gender diversity all about? Why do we “need” to drive gender diversity? What are the benefits? What’s in it for me?

These questions are not asked directly, but the skepticism or the cynicism is there. Often it comes out in the form of push backs-

  • This is a top down/ global target…. It’s been put in my KRAs
  • It’s a quota system
  • There are practical issues….those setting these targets don’t get it
  • All these policies, sessions etc….does it not prove that women are being given preferential treatment? It seems now we men need reservation….

And somewhere, the lack of buy in is counter-productive to every measure being taken in this area.

So in this write up, decided to put down my thoughts on why we need to focus on gender diversity, not just as an organization, but as a society, as a family, as an individual. And this one is right out of my life, from the heart.

I would like to take the case of Neeru, my female chauffeur. Working in a profession considered a male bastion. She is contributing towards the well being of her family, working hard towards giving her children an education that she could not get, at the same time fulfilling some of her lifestyle aspirations. She proudly showed me a newly acquired android phone recently. Her husband supports her in every way he can. Drops her for duty on days she has to report early to work, helps with grocery shopping and so on.

Are there security issues that arise while she is on duty? Yes, they do. She is trained in martial arts and as an employer, we need to make sure that in case she is going back late, she has safe transport. Comes at additional cost? Sure!

Huge benefits for me, her and society at large

  • The realization for my 10 year old son, when he first heard the phrase- “Neeru didi- Driver didi” – Girls can do everything that boys can. In an age where kids still get bombarded with gender stereotyping cues (tennis classes for boys and ballet for girls), I often felt that my just saying it was not enough. Demonstration did it. Priceless!
  • She provides an adherence of ethic that none of my previous drivers did. Right from getting duty register signed to accounting till the last paisa on parking slips.
  • From disbelief to amazement to adoption, I have family and friends wanting to know how they can hire female chauffeurs too. More employment opportunities, more jobs
  • The trickle effect, other girls in her locality are signing up for driving lessons, yearning for financial independence and respectable work.
  • Change in social standing of these families, better future for children, Financial trickle effect, impact on overall economy.

Everyone gained here. This is in a job where the biases and nays would be among the loudest.

Organisations are a reflection of the society we live in. They are not stand-alone units existing in isolation. We as people take our stereotypes, mindsets and barriers to the organisation where we work. It just needs one nudge or one act to break the barrier. Explore ways of including diversity and explore the benefits for yourself!

Author: Sonica Aron

You can also read the article here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/getting-roi-gender-diversity-enabling-investment-future-sonica-aron/