Women leaders are always prepared to tread the uncharted terrain
One might say that the odds are against women in the Indian workforce. After observing the facts, it is evident that present-day workplace culture makes it difficult for women to re-enter corporate life after a break. It's a pity and a waste—rational organizations should intensify their diversity goals in acknowledgment of the fact that women provide dependability, intelligence, and quality talent.
The Dale Carnegie whitepaper on Gender Engagement showed that compared to men, women are far lesser engaged at their workplace. One of the reasons for this could be mainly because the factors that drive engagement in women are different than those that matter to men.
Working women are under constant pressure to achieve work-life balance. But in today’s workplace, work spills over into personal life and vice versa. Work-life balance seems like a utopic state that is impossible to achieve in our widely connected world. The key thing that fosters engagement for women is smooth work-life integration. Women-centric policies like flexible working hours, childcare and maternity benefits are the biggest aspects of workplace happiness that help in a successful work-life integration.
A study conducted by Catalyst proved that increasing women in not just the workforce but also the leadership has a direct augmenting effect on the performance of the organization. Companies with more than three women on the board of directors have shown to outperform those with no women in leadership positions!
Women like Mary Barra (CEO, General Motors) Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Chairperson & MD, Biocon) and Isabella Kocher (CEO, Engie) have made it big in traditionally male-dominated industries. Women like these are ones who have gone beyond the veil of gender-related misconceptions and stereotypes. They have gone beyond the odds to achieve great heights not only for themselves but also for their companies.
Having said that, it’s a shame that even today, women have to fight such mental and social barriers to climb the ladder to success. Women in the corporate domain have to fight things like the gender pay gap, investing gaps and lower access to opportunities because they often have to take a break in their career due to personal reasons. To counter this, it is time that companies decide salaries based on the job role and not candidate driven. This skill-inclination on salaries will make sure that gender-based salary gaps do not get ingrained in the culture of the organization.
There is a tacit perception about a woman's skills being obsolete once she has been out of work for a period of time, making her "unemployable." Very few employers are progressive enough to see the benefits of employing a woman in such a situation. However, those that recognize that second-career women tend to have invaluable experience significantly lower training costs; they also bring a unique gravitas and maturity to the table. It is also likely that women returning to work will be more loyal employees and potentially great fits for the organization. Providing transition support along with mentoring during the early phase of re-entry into the organization will go a long way in supporting the smooth assimilation of women back into the mainstream.
Diversity has become a key topic of discussion in boardrooms around the world. It is important for companies to build a representative employee pool, both from a business sustainability angle, as well as to be recognized as an employer of choice.
HR Leaders should create a framework wherein the need-gaps faced by women are tackled, such that any woman professional is able to have a satisfactorily long career journey at the organization. It is this longevity that will provide every woman with the opportunity to secure her tenure and eventually have a chance at C-suite level leadership.
The world is experiencing one of its most significant revolutions: the unprecedented rise of technology and globalization along with with it a gradual rebalancing of the genders. Companies who sense its significance will access a more diverse talent pool, with a greater scope of innovating, expanding and transforming as a business.