Why is it that, in a corporate world, the moment we say “gender” automatically people think of the term as “women”? Gender is not a synonym to woman; rather synonymous. And the reason is, even if we are in the 21st century, we are still looking at women and them being the minority in the workforce. Does this limit women being a minority only in certain geographies or across the nations and boundaries set by mankind or is this a global phenomenon?
In a span of about 4 years, I have interviewed at least 50 WiT and all being in the “C” suite. During the course of my conversations with them, I have had that one question which is a standard and a common one. This question defies colour, ethnicity and seniority on a woman’s life cycle at a workplace where she gets paid a pay cheque at the end of a month. It defies the corporate borders in true sense and the question is, “How do you ensure that your give your work and home equal weightage and priorities and go through zero guilt trips”?
The answer, albeit, has remained the same from across the continents and countries; i.e. there had been moments where all the women did go through the struggle to give home and work equal priorities and over the periods, learnt to be kinder to themselves.
The outcome is much deeper. It brings us to the inherent fact that women believe in balancing their acts in a holistic manner and thus, reflects in form of equality at workplace and bringing in the Emotional Quotient at work place. And beyond that, in this day and age, we look at gender parity within organisations.
In many organisations, it’s easy to assume that the business case for gender parity has been won. Innumerable studies have shown the benefits of greater gender equality in the workplace and of introducing more women to leadership positions. Some do it because they see a business value and case in them, others do it by force, to live up to the promises to the customers.
So, is it good to be emotional at work place? Does that make a woman leader less rational or a weaker decision maker? These are some logical questions that are asked by many men who are at the mid management level. It is they who need to be given enough proof points for them, to look beyond their biases and be sensitized.
Of course there is enough and more disparity between male and female career progression and this is most pronounced in the IT sector, where despite years of effort, there is still a steep drop off of female participation at the management and leadership levels. Women make up 55% of manager level employees, but only 15% of VP level, and just 1-2% of CEOs. And then, we have EY having published in one of their studies a direct co-relation between higher profits and female board members for an organisation.
Getting more women into leadership roles should be viewed as much as an opportunity as a challenge for businesses as this will not only hone innovation through diversity but also have a positive impact on the bottom line. More often than not, women who are aspiring leaders go through various dilemma: should they behave like men, do they give up on their own style and ape the men who are leaders, many a times men socialise and have their ‘office talks and decisions’ over wining and dining, how would they as women make it to the C suite without doing just as much; beyond these, managing the spouses and responsibilities at home are never easy. This is where organisations step in and help these Leaders in making by enabling them to have their own affinity groups, learning groups and /or mentors from within the organisation.
Organisations should make an effort not just talking about the changes that they may wish for, but put in programmes in place that are not only sustainable and interesting for women, but also empower them to bring about the changes in policies and procedures of their organisations. It is they, who know what they may want – the best.
Unconscious biases are embedded within all of us, often shaped over many years through education, culture, and experience. To change our behaviour, we need to make a conscious effort to identify and recognize these biases within ourselves. If we don’t, then, as individuals and collectively, we will make the same choices over and over again – and organisations will continue to be homogenous at the top.
Developing a culture of equality within organizations is essential to attracting and retaining the best of this talent pool. Moving from legacy practices that exacerbate unintended bias to a place where science and data determine who to hire – and promote – will require effort and commitment. But the commitment has to become a collective social responsibility.
Whist in this day, as with most organisations diversity starts and at times ends with gender a.k.a. women; in my personal view, Diversity is much beyond this stereotyping. It is a holistic way of taking everyone along the growth path. It is the only way Innovation will be honed the best. We need generational diversity, gender diversity, ethnic diversity, thought diversity and much beyond what’s being captured in here. This isn’t just about increasing the number of women – and others from more diverse backgrounds – in the workplace. It brings me to want to quote Barnes Marshall: “Diversity is counting heads; inclusion is making heads count.”
Originally published on Linkedin
Responsible for the Diversity and sustainability initiatives in Infra and all GDCs in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, APAC, RoW. Bonnie partners with internal clients (various accounts) to design comprehensive workforce solutions that aligns diversity and inclusion strategy with business strategy.
Specialties: Intercultural and Cross-cultural Training | Diversity and Inclusion | Multicultural teams |Global and Intercultural Competence