Many women at work don’t climb as fast as men in the corporate ladder and they blame it on the imbalance between their work and life. Whenever someone points at this imbalance for the slow success in their career there will be someone in the tea table quoting examples of leaders, chief ministers, CEOs, who are women. These leaders, I prefer to say, are lucky or are extremely focused on career unlike a common women of India. These women in leadership are those we, the Middle class women, usually don’t relate well with. We say that they must have a full time maid, they can afford a cook and sophisticated environment for kids. All that said, we should understand that if the leaders are mothers they have to go through the same struggle as you do as no money can replace a mother and no costly maid can make a mother feel ease at work when the kid is at home. So, the baseline is that no matter which income group you belong to coming up in the race as a woman is a struggle; there is certainly a gap between the two genders in this race. Men have a default advantage in his regard.
First of all, to start to bridge this gap men and women should be treated equally at work. In many organizations men are given better opportunities than women are just because of their gender difference. This discrimination starts Let’s take an example, a project manager interviewed a hand full of candidates and short listed two guys, who were less fit for the job compared to the girls. The only reason “SHE” told me when I asked her was that boys are assets to the team while girls are troublesome. This was an interview to pull in freshers. She told me that if girls are selected and are into the team they will leave at 8 quoting their safety but guys will stay back like forever till the issue is solved. She also said that girls won’t have much focus as they will leave the company after marriage, marrying someone abroad. Now, what’s the fault of the girls, who attended the interview that day, here? They are girls and yes they can’t travel late in the night because the society is not as safe as it must be ideally. Yes if they are married to someone abroad they need to travel with them but that doesn’t restrict them from working well till whether are with the team, does it? And then comes the reason to reject married women, if they are pregnant they are not even considered as a candidate, if they are just married they become the last option and if they have kids then they get hesitantly short listed as the manager worries that the lady’s focus will be on the family. I am not saying everyone is this way but I have heard and seen such recruiters. My question here is wont a guy quit his job? Is there any proven statistics that men are better focused on work than women? Is there any theory to support that men are best fit compared to women?
First this discrimination while recruiting should change. I recently had been to United Kingdom and there if a pregnant woman performs well and meets the requirements well but is rejected because she is pregnant or a single parent or anything else it’s an offence. Also I love the way they maintain work life balance in a way that reduces the gap between men and women. They work just till 5 pm and no matter what they leave home as far as I have seen. Weekends are for the family. That’s what companies should be doing ideally, extract work during office hours and no work over the weekend. Sticking to the timings in paper will solve most issues.
The change in companies should start from immediate manager levels and then fly up to the top management levels. Policies made to benefit the female employees set at the top level will lose it’s purpose by the time it trickle down to the individual contributors.
My mom is a school principal. She was able to reach there only because as a family we supported her. In India for a women to become a leader leadership quality alone isn’t enough, what’s important is the support of the family. Here, family is everything and not many are independent women.
So more than companies it’s the families’ support that’s most important for the country to produce more women leaders.
Written for #EveryWomanIsALeader campaign.
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