India could be 27 percent richer with a more gender balanced workforce, says the IMF. Gender inequality has remained a buzzword internationally within the business sector. Although we have seen significant progress, much has yet to be done.
This year the International Women’s Day is taking place against a strong background of global action in favor of women’s rights, equality and justice. This year’s IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge. A smart woman learns from her failure, smiles during her lows and grows stronger when faced with challenges. You are one of them. Happy Women’s Day!
Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in of all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Though what has been different in women’s leadership? Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. The pandemic has also bought its own unique challenges for women. Can we choose to address gender-bias and inequality, and create a more inclusive, gender-balanced world?
The government has been proactive in promoting women empowerment through schemes, facilities and awards such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao; Matru Vandana Saptah; Mahila E-haat; One Stop Centre Scheme; Working Women’s Hostels; Swadhar Greh; and Nari Shakti Puruskar. There have been various efforts in areas of education, skill and entrepreneurship as well.
As such this year we plan to approach the celebration of International Women’s Day with some tremendous ladies from various industries.
Nithya Krishnan, Director, Marketing – India & SAARC, Trend Micro: “Women have occupied leadership positions in the past as well. However, much focus and attention weren’t given. In the present times, media and society is much more vocal about such aspects. Yes, certain fields which use to see fewer women occupying senior positions now have more representation, whether be it in – IT, BFSI, real estate etc.
I believe Trend Micro has always been a great place to work for employees, irrespective of gender. The company provides an equal opportunity for all, where employees get ample scope to grow both professionally as well as personally. Also, Trend Micro happens to be one of the rare global tech companies to be helmed by a woman CEO. As an organization, the company also supports women to pursue careers in tech, and we have partnered with Girls in Tech, a non-profit engagement that empowers girls and women who are passionate about technology.
The aspirational woman of the 21st century has a steep learning and career curve ahead of them. There are varied new areas and fields for them to explore, whether it’s across science and technology, banking and finance, management, arts, literature etc. Also, it’s a great opportunity for women across rural India to have access to information and knowledge in this digital era.
Anita Kukreja, Head- Marketing & Channel Sales at IceWarp:“Ever since the country liberalized in the 1990s, the growth in the number of educated middle-class women in workplaces has been increased. Even gender equality mounts to substantial heights in post-independence era, many steps have been taken in various sectors of life to bridge the gap between men and women to bring them up to the same level but, there’s still lot to change within the mindset of Indian society to let the women grow.
Talking about the leadership opportunities, there are still very few women in leadership positions and decision-making bodies across Indian organizations. Organizations need to set a workplace with open opportunities for Women so that they can evaluate their own employment options and can thrive in their careers.
On the other hand, though women are juggling within these challenges in workplaces, I believe that there are many things women can do to help themselves to be more influential and powerful with developing the following skills- First of all being Influential- Everyone have a preferred way of working which is different from others that can be our influencing way. So, a major factor in understanding and developing your ability to be influential is to have an appreciation of your own style and approach.
Then being resilient- Sometimes, extra or unexpected task makes us feel under huge pressure and stress. You need to develop resilience and ability to recover or adjust to change or challenges. Again, lead by example- Women need to lead by example by being open, supportive and collaborative with others. Look for, bond with and become role models for other women to follow. Lastly, create a Reputation of Action by adding value to the business, and let your contributions speak to who you are. Look for ways to make a significant impact and create a reputation of thoughtful action.”
Ms Mankiran Chowhan, Managing Director – Indian Subcontinent, SAP Concur: “India ranks fairly low at 112 on a global scale with participation of women as professional and technical workers as only 30.3 percent in WEF’s gender gap report. Hence, we know from the data that there is a substantial gap. Clearly, efforts are being made by all organisations, especially during the time of pandemic, to keep the voice strong on this topic of gender equality. Inclusion and diversity are at risk in the crisis – but are critical for business recovery, resilience and re-imagination.
SAP India also introduced a mentoring program for aspiring women in the company. Almost 33 aspiring women have been identified and this program will strengthen their current competence and skills & bridge the gap towards getting closer to their development goals.
How we think and how we learn is deep-rooted into our childhood therefore I see this as the responsibility of parents and teachers alike to ensure that just like boys – girls also are provided ample exposure to STEM-related concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through toys like Legos, activities and other methods. This would help break away from the belief that tech roles are not for women and we’ll see more girls opting for educational streams like data analytics, engineering and statistics. This will in turn help them in seizing the right opportunities in the technology industry.”
Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and Managing Director, SAP Labs India: “Today, the technology industry is in a constant state of innovation, resulting in an exponential increase in the demand for talent and creating opportunities for women to join the technology profession. We are seeing more women joining the workforce and assuming leadership roles across industries, which is an encouraging sign. While corporates are doing a lot to increase the share of women’s voice in their organisations, women also need to come forward and take up challenging roles.
In my over 20 years of experience with SAP, I have accepted the opportunities that came my way, despite the challenges they posed. My suggestion to women entering the technology profession is that they should make it a point to excel in whatever they do, not shy away from showcasing their achievements, not let go of opportunities and have a firm belief in their abilities. Challenges are a part of every career and are unavoidable. The way to overcome them is to learn from them and have a positive mindset. Bringing in a unique perspective, and pursuing continuous learning is vital to professional progression.”
Ms Kamya Merani – Country Head- Consulting, SAS India: “Opportunities for women in the workplace have changed with women showing their ability, intelligence and strength. Over time, women are increasingly needed in the workplace because of their professional attributes. Women operate at all levels today within tech. From a developer to a CTO, from an HR executive to a Head – HR, or Head of Consulting.
My personal experience is that if you are organized and able to balance between work and family it is quite possible to take up the dual responsibility.
If I have to take my instance, I have been balancing my work and family. I am fully focused on work when in office and I switch off from work and focus on family when I am at home or with family.”
Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital (Bahwan CyberTek group): “If you are always trying to be normal, you don’t know how amazing you can be” is my favourite quote from Maya Angelou.
In our entire journey to fit in the workplace mimicking a man, a woman loses her individuality and the unique values and perspectives she brings to the workplace. This consistent professional demand is the greatest inequity in professional organizations across the world. We have a refreshing number of women entering the workplace, a great improvement over the past decade. But we have miles to go before we achieve equity across the board, a balanced diversity ratio across all levels – from the trainee to the board. The workplace is certainly getting more female-friendly with governance frameworks in place and the keenness to listen and be heard.
There are leadership opportunities for those that seek to thrive in the new world. With the leaky pipe syndrome, however, we continuously lose our female workforce through the biological life cycle of conflicting family needs. To be more specific, once we hire young women at an entry-level we invariably end up losing them over time, through the middle-management layers. Eventually, there are very few women on the bandwagon that are able to effectively utilize the leadership opportunities that open up. Continuously updating our skills and core competencies while even on breaks will be important to get back to the workplace and contribute effectively. Active interventions and support from work, home, and policies and frameworks will be key. Networking is something women need to do much better too.
To live is to learn, so learn continuously and passionately. Stay focused on your goals and aspirations and work hard to achieve that. A healthy mind and body are key and so take some time off for yourself. You have it all within you to face whatever challenges that come your way, so stay passionate and positive.”
Ms. Shubhi Agarwal, Co-founder and COO, Locobuzz: “Gender Inequality is seen not just in India, but is witnessed globally, unless companies are trying to conscientiously promote inclusivity. However, as times have progressed, we can see women across sectors taking on leadership roles. For instance, Indra Nooyi who headed Pepsi until 2019, has consistently been ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women and it’s all because of her capability and not because of her gender. Infact, as new opportunities are opening up, women have started accepting tech roles too.
Most of our key positions are headed by women and we ensure that they are not only treated with as much dignity and integrity as their male counterparts but are also fairly paid. Women must always remember to believe in themselves and not be bogged down by thoughts that they ‘can’t’ achieve a goal. It is crucial that women make themselves heard and not shy away due to external forces. As it is rightly said the world is your canvas and you are free to paint your own picture!”
Ms. Akshita Gupta, Co-founder at ABL Workspaces and Ruptok Fintech Private Limited:”Women are getting more leadership opportunities today in comparison to what the situation used to be years back. All credits to the women who have proven themselves to be great leaders in every industry and have shown the world that they deserve to get more of these opportunities.
I would like to especially mention how Kamala Harris (VP OF USA) and Indra Nooyii (CEO OF PEPSICO) have come across as inspiration to many. Over the past few years, learning and job opportunities have seen tremendous growth, and I believe that this will continue as women are more informed and educated today. They are exploring new avenues and challenging themselves on many aspects. I’m also very proud of all the women (like I have mentioned earlier) who have encouraged young girls to fulfil their dreams.”
Devi Kongot – Deputy General Manager, Siemens Healthineers Development Center: ”As the industry has evolved, so do the opportunities. Tech industry is changing rapidly and this demands people to be flexible and adaptive, so consequently, we don’t see any differentiation based on gender. There are more support and facilities available now for women to pursue their careers and advance it the way they want at their chosen speed. Inour organization, we have multiple training programs to help people own their careers and grow professionally and personally.
Skills and learning opportunities for employees are meant to be gender neutral, this is also the case for career opportunities. Women need to believe in their strengths and reach out for opportunities with confidence.“
Meghna Agarwal, Co-founder, IndiQube: “Globally, the proportion of women in senior management roles is about 29%. In India, this figure is about 8%. I strongly believe that there is inequity and an unfair representation of women in Indian organizations, especially in senior management roles and there is a lot of scope for improvement in this space.
There has been a moderate growth in the overall number of women in leadership. However, despite the growth, when it comes to female CEO representation, India is amongst the lowest in APAC with 2 percent representation. Globalization, increased awareness, emphasis on education for girl child have led to a marginal increase in leadership opportunities for women; however, there is still a long way to go.”
Apoorva Aggarwal, Office Managing Principal, ZS India: Technology continues to change as we speak. Understanding today’s demand, having the vision to develop tomorrow’s future and leadership to build shape that journey is the key. Both men and women must be agile, build a network and challenge the status quo.
Women should feel empowered to raise their hand, show interest and be ready to take on the challenge. Being the youngest and a woman partner to take the leadership role of Office Managing Partner in India reflects our culture of Inclusion and diversity at ZS. The fact that the firm’s leadership team values diverse point of views, and believes it is an essential decision shows it is slowly becoming part of the DNA.”
Deepshikha Kumar, Founder & CEO, SpeakIn: “While things have considerably improved (though not perfected) within the metropolitans of India in terms of achieving equity at organizations, the tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and the villages still have a long way to go. The percentage of women in many organizations, both in the government as well as in the private sector, still is dismal. However the management in the organizations are not to be solely blamed for this inequality. Indian society is predominantly patriarchal where many people still believe that there are some “pre-assigned” roles for women that take precedence over their personal ambitions. This is a huge pull-down factor that, despite good education, becomes a major handicap for women to land merit based roles in many large organizations.
What we are seeing today is an increased number of women taking up technical education and technical roles. Till a few years back, hearing a “woman Software Engineer” or a “woman Product Designer” was a rarity. Similarly, “a woman Entrepreneur” was practically non-existent, let alone a woman leading a tech-based organization. The situation today is completely different.
This has all been possible due to availability of more evolved learning opportunities for the women. Internet and penetration of smart devices have been the biggest game changers. Today, just at the tap of a few buttons, women can enrol themselves in a course of their choice no matter which part of the world they are in. Similarly, exploring career opportunities has become a lot easier as one can simply go online and start searching for jobs. Another crucial enabler has been the organizations’ and educational institutions’ initiatives that have set an example by making diversity a mandatory part of their workplaces and classrooms respectively.”
Ms Esha Tiwary, General Manager, Entrepreneur First: “I am part of a generation of women inspired by leaders like Indra Nooyi. Now there are many more women in leadership positions across diverse industries and businesses – role models that show young women that there need not be any limit to their professional ambitions just because of their gender.
Traditionally gender roles were very clearly carved out – men were bread winners and women were home makers. This clear demarcation was at the root of how children were brought up, what education and opportunities they were exposed to, and what expectations they were held to. To a large extent, this continues to be the case today. And this is what causes women to drop out of higher education and the work force in large numbers, irrespective of their skills or professional abilities.
However, the world has changed rapidly and continues to do so. And with a rapidly changing world, our cultural practices need to evolve as well. The role demarcation is not so clear anymore, and women who are surrounded by a partner and families who embrace this new reality find themselves much better supported to build strong careers.”
Jyoti Ahuja, Director of Engineering, Intuit India: “In recent times, the percentage of women leaders at top positions, especially in technology companies, has increased. However, there is definitely room for improvement. Now, more than ever, businesses are conscious that a diverse workforce and inclusive culture are the driving forces of their growth. Today, we are seeing women pursuing long term careers in enterprises and achieving leadership roles because the industry is aware of how this directly translates to scalability, profits and increased productivity.
At Intuit, we have a number of initiatives designed to build a strong and healthy pipeline of women leaders. One of them is the Women’s Initiative to Lead and Learn (W.I.L.L.), aimed at enabling women to discover their authentic leadership identity while also building a strong diverse leadership pipeline for Intuit. We also have a Leading Inclusively learning program designed to tackle ‘unconscious bias’ and create an environment where people from all backgrounds can be successful. Leading Inclusively is an interactive workshop for not only people and functional managers across Intuit but all employees too. This virtual workshop aims to strengthen leadership skills and help employees create an environment where they can all bring their whole self to work.”
Jyotsna Uttamchandani, Executive Director, Syska Group: “During the pandemic, the world witnessed that countries which had women in the leadership positions were in a much better shape than the rest. Women have time and again proven that they are focused on continuously finding solutions for challenging situations. The world wants change and this could definitely be a century where equality can be established in every field. A big example that showcased a country breaking the etch was when Kamala Harris became the first woman Vice President of the United States. It is key that in this post pandemic world, we not only identify but accept the problems of patriarchy.
We need a more humane and rational approach. Most importantly women always believe in working in a sort of comradeship. Be it healthcare, hospitality, politicians, innovators, women have been front liners. It is time we must discard the gender stereotypes, empower and let women take the lead towards this unrivaled gridlock. As Michelle Obama says, “there is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” Wishing All Women a Happy Women’s Day. May you all continue to be strong, and keep your heels and head high!”
Manjula Muthukrishnan, Managing Director, Avalara Technologies Private Limited, Indian operations of Avalara, Inc.: “The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 celebrates the enormous efforts by women in managing the pandemic. We have seen women leaders of countries efficiently lead efforts to respond to COVID-19 and save more lives than their male counterparts. Women-led organizations have commenced the Covid recovery efforts utilizing their knowledge, networking, and skills. You would find women leading among the front-line healthcare workers, caregivers, police, and other functions.COVID-19 threw additional hardship on a lot of women. Working mothers have faced plenty of challenges managing home and work from home at the same time.
This year, we should challenge the status quo. We should look for ways to shape a more balanced future in the world while we recover from the pandemic. We should work on integrating female perspectives while implementing the COVID-19 recovery programs and future policies. We are only limited by our imagination. We have come a long way to say ‘impossible’ to anything. Let’s inspire, empower & change. Let us work forward to an equal future.”
Ms. Kabir Fathima, Vice President – Enterprise Platform Solutions, JK Technosoft:”For generations, women have struggled to make their way into the sprawling corporate world and with theirperseverance, they have claimed their share in the workforce. Many leading organizations support gender diversity inthe workplace. However, in India we still are far from an ideal diversity in the workplace asfemale participation itself, in the labour force, is comparatively less than that of men. Even several surveys and findings conducted by international organizations such asWorld Economic ForumandGallupindicate that men still have an edge in various fields and job roles and an associated pay scalewhich can only be addressed when gender diversity is viewed as an inclusive goal rather than a laudable one.
Career progression brings in new responsibilities&challenges and demands commitment. As primary caregivers with the majority oversight for their homes and families, women, often work two jobs: as mothers and as full-time/part-time employees. Stretched working hours, intense competition, frequent travel may influence them to choose balance over career opportunities. “Flexibility” is vital but today it has translated to “engagement” for women to be successful. It is however important for organizations to reinforce the message through coachingwomen employees around strengths and/or engagement.
Women have continually demonstrated faring better in many areas – a better coder with a higher rate of code acceptance, innovation and creativity, being leaders that dare to be entrepreneurs with their own start-ups. It is not about the role it’s what they have been passionate about doing.”
Ms. Shweta Berry, Head of Strategic Alliances- Industry & Academia, Marcom, Sales Enablement and CSR Divisions, Aeris Communications, India:”
At Aeris Communications, we not only have a balanced mix of women and men in our workforce, but we also promote diversity and inclusion across our multiple offices, worldwide. We have women leaders in demanding roles which sets a perfect blend to the once male-dominated field of Information Technology. Since the last two years, Aeris has been celebrating Women in IoT, every March on the International Women’s Day! The platform brings together women from reputed software companies, system integrators, academia and student fraternity. The ‘Women in IoT’ is an open knowledge engagement platform, an initiative driven by Aeris women employees and fully endorsed by Aeris global leadership team. It aims to creates a positive atmosphere and demonstrate the importance of personal style and confidence for women in business, in addition to the functional qualities that successful leaders embrace. This platform enables women to come forward and share their work experience in the technology industry, meet like-minded women professionals; share ideas, engage in meaningful discussions and network.
There is a wealth of opportunity for women having right skills to excel in tech careers and those skills are not just technical or being digital savvy. The post pandemic era has taught us one thing- expect the unexpected at the time of uncertainty. The future of work is as unpredictable as the duration of series of nationwide lockdowns were and would be. Today, employers need employees who are adaptive, come with problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills as businesses will likely face problems in the future that they can’t even imagine or predict as of now. Having an entrepreneurial bend of mind could be an added advantage as it hones your leadership skills.”
Ms Swati Babel, CEO, PrimaDollar India: “There are many instances that I have personally witnessed and experienced over the years. For example, you can see the pay scale difference between both the genders who are on the same level. Certain interview questions are gender-based, which raises questions on the ability of a female to work and handle responsibilities. Such as, Will you be able to manage since you have kids?
Will you be open to taking up more responsibilities post-marriage and so on. Men are generally judged by their performance but we ladies are judged both by performance and personal situations. I have reached the level where I am no longer questioned or doubted but at the beginning of my career, I have had my experience.
Since PrimaDollar comes from a UK background, they provide the most professional work environment which accommodates the personal requests of employees to make them feel comfortable. For instance, I was allowed to bring my pet to the office which definitely helped me to manage my work better. Similarly, my colleague is allowed to work from home in order to perform efficiently while taking care of her one and a half year toddler. Such comfort defines a female-friendly workplace in my opinion.
Though in the last decade we definitely have more female leaders, still, there is a long way to go. PrimaDollar deals with 1000s of corporates and hardly 1% of them have female leaders addressing the board and leading the team. However, in the startup ecosystem, the number of female leaders are more. Secondly, now a majority of female receive leadership roles out of compulsion and not because they have earned it. I expect this scenario to undergo a change in the coming years. ”
Sigalit Shavit, Chief Information Technology Officer, CyberArk: “Cybersecurity as a discipline is starting to come through in secondary and tertiary education, but we need younger kids to say that they want to be in cyber. Coding is now taught in many junior and middle schools and smartphones are everywhere once children get to be 11 or 12, so that familiarity with technology is already there. Cyber could and should be put into the same context as teaching children about how to stay safe online. Ultimately, we need to get to boys and girls while they remain unbiased about what they want to do later in life, and make cyber an exciting career choice.”
Sapna Mongia, VP, Business Development, Flex: “Companies with more women in leadership roles create an environment that has greater inclusion, increased opportunities, and stronger results. These days companies have jobs that are empowering women for long-term strategic vision and success. We’re seeing examples of more females in leadership positions emerging from across generations to drive change. Our CEO, Revathi Advaithi, is a prime example of a woman leader heading a multinational organization such as Flex.
Women are more likely to prioritize family over their work. However, more and more women who make it to the top have admitted to making personal sacrifices to get there. Work/family balance is an issue as balancing job demands and household tasks is a huge barrier that prevents women from achieving work-life balance. Many companies are embracing flexible work arrangements for women employees which is a big improvement in support of women workforce. We also have Women in Flex employee resource group (ERG) to support all women including working mothers.”
Sonica Aron, Founder & Managing Partner, Marching Sheep: “There has been a recent surge in interest on subjects like women’s careers, work-family balance, or the gender gap in the leadership positions. The educated, ambitious women do not differ much from men in terms of their value and hope for their careers and lives to begin with. However, family happiness, relationships and work life balance are more on the minds of women than men. Women at a different life stages define success differently. At different stages, raising happy children or contributing to the world around them, or pursuing work, different elements take the front seat. “Striking a balance between work and family and giving back to society,” makes more meaning for women. Men, at the other hand have traditionally had it easier, not having the burden of balancing family with their professional aspirations.
Certain expectations regarding how couples should distribute career and family responsibilities may contribute to women’s stymied professional goals. The pull of child rearing has long been an acceptable explanation for the small proportion of women in the seats of power. It was assumed that women who quit jobs were leaving for caring for their families.
A key factor is still deep-rooted attitudes that a woman should be the primary caregiver, so it is ‘understood’ that her career may have to take a backseat while a male colleague may move ahead at a more rapid pace.
As we’ve also seen, men are more successful in their careers, which no doubt plays a role in the difference between expectations and reality as many women watch their partners’ careers take off and eclipse their own. Research suggests that from the majority of high-achieving, highly educated professional women who leave jobs for child care activities, only a small numbers do that; others leave because they are overlooked for promotions, have dim prospects or find themselves in unfulfilling roles.
They are reminded, sometimes in not so subtle ways, that they are no longer the “players”, often branded for using flex options of reduced schedules, passed over for important assignments, or simply removed from projects they were leading. many women’s expectations for career equality were disappointed. In fact, women in top management teams, typically, were more likely than those lower down in the hierarchy to make career decisions to accommodate family responsibilities.”
Rashmi Gupta, Associate Vice President, Infogain:“Over the years things have changed significantly, with many organizations offering increased opportunities to women. There are many industry sectors with women employed in strong leadership positions. A recent study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that women constitute nearly 13.8% of boardroom employees in India. That makes us ahead of other emerging markets including China and Russia in terms of corporate diversity.
Although there has been a shift in mindsets, more effort is still required for women to achieve equal opportunities. For example, we cannot ignore the parallel reality that exists in some environments, where women must prove their mettle more than their male peers and risk losing their jobs if they commit even the slightest of errors.
While we are well on our way to bridge the inequality, there is long way to go to achieve gender pay parity across roles – including boardroom employees. A World Economic Forum showed that the gender gap runs deep; and globally we are still many years away from experiencing equal pay opportunities for men and women.
Compared to prior years, women do receive more leadership opportunities now. However, there is still room for growth in women’s boardroom presence. In a survey by NASSCOM, 88.5% of companies reported that less than 10% of their C-Suite is female and 80% companies had less than 20% females at senior management levels.”
Kanchan Dass, Director, Marketing & Communications, Doceree:” Gender inequality at Indian workplaces is a stark reality and there could be no denying the fact that representation of women, especially at senior and management positions, is abysmal. Although leading corporate and business houses and even start-ups have been making serious attempts at bridging the gap, the progress is definitely slow. It is worrying that the contribution of women to India’s GDP is just 17%, one of the lowest in the world. Compare it to that of China where the figure stands at 41%, and it becomes quite apparent how we are faring in terms of gender diversity.
Policies at Doceree are very women-centric, focusing on creating an ecosystem that supports the growth of women employees and encourages their participation. We started our journey in 2019 and India operations began only last year. The company already has women at key positions and plans are in place to increase the strength of women in the workforce. As the company will evolve and the number of women employees grow, so will the policies to nurture them further.”
Anupama Kadambi, Chief Experience Officer, Gofrugal: “In the past, career opportunities for women were sparse. For the new female millennials and those re-starting their work today, learning opportunities are in abundance.
Thanks to the Internet, this has paved the way for faster and easier skill development. Women need to add to their growing repertoire self-learning ability, innovation mindset, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, building social connectedness to spot talent, assess skill-gap and mentor to be women as leaders for other women! ”
Ms. Sanghamitra Roy, Director, AAPNA Infotech: “We are now a complete Virtual organisation, so yes its more female friendly organisation than before. As a result of the decision to go virtual, we are able to attract women team members, who are otherwise challenged to take up full time positions due to constraints of travel and odd hours. We have the privilege of associating with few young moms as they are now able to balance their family needs as well as career aspiration, given this new normal. We have received several strong testimonials from them.
As a result of this forced pandemic era, I believe that male counterparts are also more receptive to WFH culture and with maturity of the organisation and many processes and tools that are now implemented to take care of long term WFH scenario, I think it’s a win-win on all counts. AAPNAITES are saving on travel time, and able to spend more time with family and enjoy home cooked meals with kids and family. Few are able to go back to their hometown and parents, resulting in more engaged and happier team for the organisation. There is higher productivity and more focus on learning and development as well, as the team in general is more relaxed operating out of home, and more focused and available even during odd hours, as per job role and requirement.
If we want anything in life, we are capable of getting it, whatever it is. We just need to want more for ourselves. Women of today just need to know, that we are not competing against the male gender, rather, we are a class apart and the strengths we have are specific to us, like being intuitive, caring and of nurturing nature. We can be strong as a pillar and a force to reckon with, if that’s the need of the hour. We need to just know our own individual strengths, be it technology, leadership or creativity and focus on strengthening and harnessing it, rather than competing and trying to prove ourselves all the time. It’s all about perception, and how much value we give ourselves, that gets reflected in our work, our thought process and our behavior. That’s how the external world will see, value and perceive us.”
Lekha K. K., Associate Vice President and Delivery Head – Digital & Hi-Tech, QuEST Global: “There has been a gender imbalance with women in leadership roles. How we treat women in society also has an impact in the workplace, including the stereotypes. A recent study shows women are paid less for the same job profiles as compared to men. Even though this is a general notion, there has been a more than 16% increase in women engineers in the engineering industry – over the last decade – who are helping to shape a better world to live in.
When I look back at my career, I can confidently say that I have not been denied an opportunity because of being a woman. I also believe that nothing can hold you back if you have the talent and confidence. Sometimes we get caught in our own beliefs. If we think that being a woman, we will be discriminated against, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, go out there believing in yourself. You will be surprised by the results. On the contrary, I would also like to add that significant policy changes at different levels are needed to bring in the perfect balance and gender equity.
Over the past two decades, as a woman engineer, I was fortunate to have worked with great managers – both men and women – who believed in me, nurtured me, and gave me the opportunity to grow. I am also fortunate to be with QuEST, an organization where we believe in equal opportunity for all. As leaders, we are cascading this to every employee, and this goes as a shared belief within the organization.”
Ms.Neelima Sinha, Director – Marketing – Acuver Consulting: “At the outset, let me point out that India is not alone; workplace inequity is a global issue, and is not bound or defined by geography and culture. It’s a societal mindset. Having said that, yes, for years, India has consistently been seen as a place where men go to work, and women make all the necessary adjustments or sacrifices to suit that one purpose. This has led to a tipping of the scales in men’s favour when it comes to workplace equality. But this is changing. The other day, I was reading how India now has 32% women opting for engineering as compared to 20% in the US and 28% in the EU. Leading companies are now building workspaces to suit women. Corporate policies are being modified to allow women to work and care for their family –Of course, issues like pay parity, etc, continue to disturb many industries, but we’ll get there, too. I’m sure of that.
Acuver has always been gender neutral. It’s a thought process that percolates down from the top management to every single Acuverite . We don’t consider gender as an evaluation parameter in any area – if we are looking for a Java developer, we’re looking just at the talent in that area. Not a male or a female Java developer. We have, and will always rate talent, dedication to work, and other leadership qualities as the top requirements for employment – not gender. Absolutely no brownie points for being a woman, or a man at Acuver. It’s KPIs and KRAs, and employee welfare as a holistic overview that drive our management philosophy. When we hire, make every applicant go through rigorous selection process and candidates are evaluated on the basis of their skill set and soft skill, and once someone is hired, it is their ability to get work done that’s always considered. I have been with the organization since 2017 and I’ve found it person-friendly not woman or man-friendly. Plus, in the Acuver leadership, we have 35% representation of women and at all levels– the global average is 24%.”
Shanai Ghosh, ED & CEO, Edelweiss General Insurance: “Today there is more acceptance that women contribute significantly to decisions, policies, and laws. We live in a predominantly male dominated society and economy. Leadership opportunities that women get is improving, but the numbers are still very low. This number will move up only if we are able to nurture and sustain the ambition of young women through the middle years and take away some of the symbolism associated with ambition, such as post work socialization, face time in office etc.
A gender equal world is ideal, but we far from reality. While calling out inequality is key and paramount, what is moreimportant is that women get a supportive environment at home and enabling policies at the workplace. In fact, with the pandemic taking away a lot of the usual misgivings associated with WFH, we should see more flexibility at work and hopefully help women balance their roles in office and home more easily.
In an evolving and competitive career landscape, women need to be open to change and push themselves out of their comfort zones to grow. Knowledge of coding and analytics will become more universal requirements going ahead. This, married with logic and the unique sense of intuition that women have, makes a very compelling skill set that is a route to success!”
Asheeta Regidi, Head of Fintech Policy, Cashfree: “I have been fortunate to have not experienced any inequity at the workplace in my career. I believe gender has had no significance starting from my education to my work today, and that I have been judged on my skills alone. I don’t believe I have lost out on any opportunities on that count either. That being said, more is certainly required from workplaces to be more women-friendly, such as ensuring safety even outside of the workplace, be it late night travel from work or intercity travel, or even addressing harassment in general professional circles like networking events.
I believe my current workplace at Cashfree is similarly gender-agnostic, with merit being the only consideration. We have several women in various roles including senior leadership positions across the company, be it human resources, communications, legal, business growth and product marketing. Here, men and women alike are presented with the same opportunities, be it on projects, learning programs, HR initiatives and more. Tech is not proving to be a barrier for women at Cashfree and we have many senior women engineers. Flexibility with work and work-from-home options further contribute to the women-friendly nature here, allowing a work-life balance. Since technical skills are a leveller based on educational qualifications, merit, and experience, there is no holding back women who are constantly seeking to upskill themselves, learn more about technology and work on technical projects.”
Vineetha Vijayakumar, Head of Product & Program, Esper.io: “Numerous articles have been written about dealing with the pandemic and how we evolved work & management principles. Especially in the field of technology, women have led the effort in making empathy a key enabler in adjusting to remote work – empathy among colleagues, families, friends and the society at large.
Let’s shine a spotlight on these stories of leadership, strength and resilience shown by women all over the world. Let’s internalize, amplify and celebrate these stories to spread more hope and empowerment.”
Shalini Vanaja Nair, CTO, Ennoventure: “There are inequalities mostly with respect to promoting women to senior positions, due to various reasons stemming from the traditional role women are expected to play at home and in childbearing and child rearing. On the other hand, there are various organisations that have healthy gender-neutral policies, and there are quite a few women in top positions, particularly in the tech and banking sectors. In fact India has a good track record at least in these segments.
Irrespective of the career choice, women need to plan their careers, and have the confidence to ask for what they want. The skills they need to acquire are mainly self-confidence and the ability not to judge themselves while juggling their multiple roles.”
Varsha Kaundinya Varsani, Vice President – Global Marketing, Aarav Solutions: “We are moving towards a work environment that is positively trying to bridge the gap between the genders. I would say the world has developed so much that we have much more opportunities for women today than in the past years. When we consider Indian organizations, the major concern is how well women are informed about the opportunities in the country as well as abroad for that matter. It is women who should empower themselves rather than others giving them an opportunity to.
Companies today are becoming more inclusive now more than ever. We are progressively looking at women in leadership roles across geographies. With organizations introducing various benefits like flexible working hours, equal pay, family care benefits, On-site daycare, maternity leaves and training for women etc. are encouraging women to get back to work.“
Ms. Vijayashree Natarajan, Senior Vice President – Head of Technology, Omega Healthcare Management Services Pvt. Ltd.: “Going by the definition of inequity being unfair, avoidable differences, disparities that are more qualitative than measurable, we have crossed those days of organizations being entrenched with inequity. At the national level, 79 women occupy parliamentary seats since 2019 – a significant progress for our country. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are now top priorities in board room discussions. A study revealed that women form 30% of corporate India, with 31% and 26% representation within non-technical and technical roles, respectively. Though there are only 11% senior women leaders, the junior and middle levels fare slightly better at 38% and 20%, respectively. There is always scope for betterment and growth; what matters more is to continue with the concerted efforts.
Women have long been present in leadership, but the question has been how easy or difficult is the journey for them. Leadership is not just about achieving or attaining the position but a lot about how one sustains it. Traditionally vision, strategy, decisions, and the gamut of business world were perceived to be beyond the comprehension and capability of women. This perception has gradually been changing over the years. The glass ceiling has long been shattered, and for women to assume leadership roles has now become a greater possibility, a common phenomenon too. We have so many young women who make it to the globally acclaimed lists of leaders and achievers. Name any profession and you will have a woman leader/ achiever to reckon with.”
Ms.Vrushali Pradhan (Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer), Bizydale Nets: “Women in countries around the world that previously lived in prejudice and oppression are beginning to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Thescopes of learning and career opportunities haveevolved. There are many agencies that are providing job trainings to thousands of women in response to growing demand for the skills that is required to participate in the increasingly advanced job market. More women are now taking entrepreneurial roles than before. Markets are also expanding to create new jobs for both men and women.
Women should be ready for anything, no matter what life throws their way! Financial skills like managing tax and credit, domestic skills, home and car maintenance skills. Safety skills, survival skills, Communication skills, management skills, self-promotion skills are a few that every women should look into.”
Eeshani Agrawal, Director, Ivy Professional School: “Inequity is no longer as prevalent as it was in organizations today. Various sectors such as mass communication, IT, banking, etc., are now providing equal opportunities to women as well. Traditional fields like the one I belong to (I am a civil engineer) still need some improvements in terms of plugging the inequity gap. Women in this sector do not have much say not only in terms of work but also the kind of projects they work on. However, if we see the larger picture, the situation is much better than it was earlier.
You will be surprised to know that the IVY Professional School has a stronger women workforce. About 65% of our workforce comprises women. As one of the directors, I have made sure that all women working in our organization feel super secure, be it in terms of work flexibility or ensuring that they are able to maintain a good work-life balance. Women wear many hats and have to juggle a lot. This is why we have given them a lot of facility so that they can manage their roles better and happily.”