Being a returning NRI into the corporate world in modern, changing, growing India, I expected fewer barriers for women to climb to the top and for the current generation to truly reach their potential and create a stir.
Is the glass ceiling a factor of women’s aspirations?
However, not a lot has changed and though the Indian diaspora has made inroads into C-Suites abroad, women especially in India struggle on many fronts
Invited by Shaili, to be part of Power Breakfast organized by SheThePeople.TV, in Mumbai on 17th November, I was excited to be in a room full of women who fight the battle for equality, with themselves and with our culture to take their rightful place in the world. Speakers were: Anuranjita Kumar, Country HR Officer of Citibank & Ameera Shah, CEO of Metropolis
It was an engaging & interactive discussion broadly focused on 4 areas which struck a chord with me immediately. In my experience too, these deserve the greatest focus and attention for every woman in corporate India to excel and be recognized for their contribution to the business and society at large.
1. Women’s battles with Me, Myself & I
Our biggest strength & weakness is our inner voice but the demon of the negative voice that tells you, “You are not good enough”, “You could have done better”, Do you deserve this” is a bigger enemy than all external forces including culture, stereotypes, obvious partisan behavior and disparity.
2. Mentoring & being Mentored
As Taylor Swift famously said and I quote ‘There’s a Special Place in Hell for Women Who Don’t Help Other Women‘, women should be the best support for other women and ensure they succeed. Mentoring is however a two way street and it offers mutual benefit to both partners. Hence, leverage other Women for Mentorship & Support because they understand and will provide perspective because they have been there, done it & conquered it.
My views on mentorship and support network for women is here
3. Brand YOU
YOU are your unique brand, your unique skills and traits need to be marketed as you rise higher in the management chain or seek success in your entrepreneurial journey. From being judged vis-a-vis a female stereotype of how a woman acts/dresses/behaves, women often have to work 2x harder just to prove they are deserving and equal to men.
Be confident to stand out, be an outlier (if needed) and shine. Believe in yourself, bet your money on you. If you wont, chances are no one else will.
4. Women in Leadership & Gender Inequality
Some statistics to support the grim reality of Women Leaders and why finding women in the boardroom is tough, if not impossible
- Women make up only 4.6% of CEOs in S&P 500 companies
- Women accounted for only 3.3% of CEOs in the top 100 companies in Silicon Valley in 2014
Being the lonely voice in meetings, we are talked over, unheard and rated in terms of character traits and leadership qualities as men. It is lonely at the top, be aware & help change the perception by being you. Not complying with a stereotype is hard but the definition of leadership changes when more women rise to the top and with YOU.
Navigating and dealing with matrixed organizations & politics may not come naturally but it is part of the job description and must be managed if not actively participated in.