Gender Diversity. Can we get this right? At All?
- Expert Advice, Women-friendly Companies, Events
- 23 Feb 2017
Published on September 29, 2016
Sindhu Subhashini - India HR Head, Chairperson ICC Brillio
The last year has been a blessed one for me as a professional. I got to work on a high priority initiative - Building a pipeline of women leaders in a young organization.
I was part of the team that crafted the nitty gritties of this women leadership enablement initiative. We clearly wanted to focus on workshops and coaching program enabling career advancement. Coaching is one of the most important tenets of the program and I had the unique opportunity to coach more than 15 women within my team as well as outside my team across the globe. The experience is one that I will carry with me, and that is something I would like to share with you today.
For the last 10 – 15 years I have repeatedly heard about how Gender Diversity is moving towards placing women in leadership roles in IT Industry. Several organizations have backed this claim by institutionalizing well-defined programs. However, although the numbers have changed, we all know that the efforts and the results do not match. The gap between intent and reality is alarming! There clearly is a need to change the fundamentals of these programs. If we perhaps start today, we may be able to see a change in the next decade for women leaders. A program that is well defined and can be sustained is one that will work.
There is also so much chatter about how the external environment is not conducive to women leaders climbing the ladder to success. But have we really understood the intrinsic reasons that are pushing them off this cliff? I want to pen down some of my own experiences in my professional and coaching avatar which might throw some light on the matter
1. Let’s start with the ABC's: Have I asked for my aspirational role?
Most women across levels shy away from this. Whether they were ready or perhaps even qualified for the role, they don’t go the extra mile of asking for what they want. The problem here is the “asking”. The discomfort for most, stems from the fact, that they believe that things will organically come to them if they work hard enough. Somehow, asking for something instills a deep sense of guilt. But what if the people around you (stakeholders/colleagues) don’t know that you are up for the challenge? Just asking or stating the same will remove all doubt and will perhaps stand you in good stead with your decision makers. The ball no longer is in your court. Stay focused and ask for what you deserve.
2. Am I visible?
Now, this is crucial. You need to be “seen” so that you are top of mind. The quieter ones fall by the wayside. Stand up, stand tall. Be proud of your accomplishments.
3. Accept ‘No/Feedback/Feedforward’ without taking it personally
This is an area that needs a lot of attention, let’s face it, this is not easy. It’s important to be able to seek feedback in anything we do today. But what is most critical is the way we react to feedback. Acceptance with grace is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, because most often than not, one tends to react emotionally, thereby overwhelming the person sharing the feedback. Research has shown that most top management find it hard to give honest feedback for this very reason. The environment you create needs to be open and comfortable for this two-way street. Keep an open mind, things will always be in your favour.
4. Did I give up already?
I have interacted with so many of my colleagues who often quip about how their husbands are financially well-off and how they don’t really need to go through the daily grind at work. They give up even before they start. But I’m always curious to find out what makes them tick and most importantly, why they continue to work. I wonder if the reasons are only to be economically satisfied or perhaps there is more? I urge you to spend some time to figure this out. Once you do, you will be able to give it your 100%. We all have reasons why we do things in life and why we don’t. But in a professional scenario, no matter what the reasons, we must remember to fight hard and push back. Backing down at the first sign of trouble doesn’t help build careers. Build agility, build patience and stay true to yourself. The rest will follow. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
5. I need your help!
Some of us are blessed with strong support systems and it's important that we nurture the same. Keeping an open line of communication with them in this journey you are on, will help you tremendously. It could be your partner/spouse/extended families or children. Anyone who is in your life becomes part and parcel of this support system. Why leave them behind? After all, it is the collective success in every aspect of our life that makes us better human beings.
So these were some of my life lessons, things I want to share with you today. This, of course, is not the exhaustive list, but an indication of some of the things we can work on to drive change. Are you ready to climb that ladder?
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