Every Step Counts

Every Step Counts

Women in the workforce are not being given the recognition and credit they deserve. In today’s scenario, despite the long hours they put in, organisations still have a long way to go in order to recognise their contribution.


Gender imbalance exists whether we like it or not. It is present in organisations across the globe. Women are often put on the back burner and not given the recognition and credit they deserve. The gender imbalance has put a lot of pressure on the woman both personally and professionally. The virtual environment expects the work hours which are usually from 9 to 6 to be flexible and expects employees to be available anytime thereby putting additional pressure on women who are trying to balance career and home to take care of the family as well as the work scenarios. At the same time, people are quitting their jobs and moving on not just for a better work-life balance, but, also to be able to care for their families. And soon, given the work from home and hybrid scenario, this will become the utmost priority for employees. The Great Resignation in India and the globe is also going to add to a huge Talent shortage and the gender imbalance will grow more rapidly than expected.


Globally, COVID-19 has been the biggest acceleration towards the technology boom, but at the same time, it has contributed greatly towards gender inequality. This has also delayed the likely timetable to gender parity by a generation, from 99.5 years to 135.6 years as per the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report 2021.


What can I do as a woman?


Ask Vs to wait: One of my mantras is to never wait for opportunities to land for what I aspire to become. You have a better chance of succeeding when you are driving your career rather than leaving it to your people manager or the organisation alone. Think about what you want to become and what will take you as far as you need to go. Never hesitate to ask for roles that you have never done before and will help you reach your own goal. Taking initiative can sometimes be the best option and can help you land the job you want, get a promotion or take on an entirely new role and contribute to personal and professional growth.


Some powerful questions that can drive your career conversations: Always ask for feedback on how you are doing and where you are on the growth journey? How can you improve? What can help you grow both inside and outside the organisation? What other roles can you take on immediately and in the next 2 years?


Leadership & Empathy: The biggest skill that is required in today’s world is to be an emphatic leader. Learn to empathize and practice showing real emotions with people. “You can only fake it once” - So show your true emotions and learn to have empathy towards your team, peers, and colleagues. This creates a trusted relationship with you and maintains relationships beyond the job.


Some Tips:


– Listen carefully to what others are saying


– Show genuine concerns


– Ask questions on how they are feeling and know more


– Seek help and support that will enable them to move forward


– Offer them your support both personally and professionally


Be seen as a leader early on: As per one of the studies conducted by the World Economic Forum, People who spent more time talking were more likely to be nominated as leaders – regardless of operator status, previous gameplay knowledge and variables such as personality traits and cognitive ability. Find internal/ external opportunities to speak your thoughts & mind. The earlier you start the more professional you become as you grow and climb the leadership ladder. This will help you not only boost your own confidence but also slowly & gradually be seen as a leader among your peer groups and 2X your chance to get promoted faster than people who do not take charge.


– Remember - Practice, Practice, Practice. Initially, you may have to spend extra time over and above your routine work but there is no easy way out.


– Before getting into your weekly reviews meeting or any other group setting, take the time to think of 2- 3 points in advance about the topic that is to be discussed so that you can contribute effectively to the meeting and you have some idea of what is being discussed. Never appear at a meeting absolutely blank or clueless about what is being discussed; it reflects you in a poor light and gives the impression that you are not really interested, and, are unwilling to go the extra mile in order to bring yourself up to speed. What will differentiate you from the group? Practice beforehand and go prepared rather than entering a meeting and then going with the flow.


– Attend external webinars or conferences and note down how people are responding. How they deliver a message and get industry perspective to help sharpen your own thoughts.

Collaborate and learn from others: In today’s world, organisations want leaders who can collaborate to get the work done and at the same time are open to learn at any stage of their career. One must learn to work in a cohort of people. This will help you get a different and unique perspective than yours and better your chances of becoming more effective in doing things. Most innovative ideas come from places we never thought about. Find opportunities to work with other people on projects beyond your scope and you will be surprised to learn different skills from others.


– Tips:


Find employee voluntary groups in the organisation and start contributing there


Create a task force – a cohort or cohorts of people to solve a larger business challenge


 Have fun and network with people while you are learning new skills


Self-Reflect & be aware about your own biases: Learning, un-learning & re-learning is an integral part of growing. You should ask others how they perceive you and reflect on your own image of you. Is that the same? If not, what can you do to change that? 360-degree feedback is a great way of knowing and introspecting about yourself and how you can improve. Take their suggestions and observations positively and work on self-improvement. Make a conscious effort to minimise your own flaws or Identify your Coach / mentor Vs relying on only people managers: Identify a coach or mentor within the organisation or outside beyond just the people manager who can help you see different lenses of the same environment without you being judged. I personally recommend having mentors in every stage of life that helps clear our own perspective.


Identify your Coach / mentor Vs relying on only people managers: Identify a coach or mentor within the organisation or outside beyond just the people manager who can help you see different lenses of the same environment without you being judged. I personally recommend having mentors in every stage of life that helps clear our own perspective.


Indra Nooyi, former chairperson and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, has been the Mentor of Leena Nair throughout her career journey. Leena Nair has recently been appointed as the CEO of Chanel and Forbes Most Powerful Women in 2021. This is how powerful mentorship is.


– Identify the person who you feel inspired by and is trustworthy


– Be open to share your thoughts and journey with them


– Seek a different perspective and not just a solution/answer to your questions


What steps can organisations take to drive progress and cultivate more inclusive workplaces for women in 2022 and beyond?


Everything has a silver lining and I personally think that this pandemic has also opened up a lot of opportunities in organisations to solve the issue of gender inequality.


1. Hiring a diverse workforce rapidly: COVID-19 has opened the world towards the new workplace strategy. The hybrid/ work from home model can provide employees with new opportunities. Imagine those employees in jobs that require lots of travel, or night shifts. Imagine situations where female employees could not get out of the house due to multiple reasons but can now work from home without the hassle of travel, night shifts outside the home environment and long hours of work away from their families or children. All this can be managed from within the home itself. There is a huge talent marketplace that has opened and now is the right time for organisations to tap into this talent potential which is ready to be hired and can contribute to improving the diverse talent slate.


2. C- Suite Position/Leadership Roles: When we talk about women in C suite positions sadly only 8 % of the overall women in the workforce contribute to leadership roles. This means that organisations need to bear in mind that gender discrimination has no place in the corporate world.


Organisations must be prepared to re-examine and re-evaluate their hiring policies and their promotion policies and be more open and accepting of women in leadership roles.


– Internal Job mobility – For women to create a ready pipeline towards experience in multiple roles within the organisation


– Platforms and opportunities – Data shows that people who talk more are psychologically seen as leaders. Ensure you leverage women leaders in internal and external forums to boost both confidence, experience and naturally support toward the progression towards leadership


– Women leadership programmes focusing on women development


3. Culture: It takes a village to create a culture and to enable the growth mindset. Organisations need to fix their cultural challenges and start focusing on how they can work toward getting rid of biases and help create a more open and transparent culture for a diverse set of people to thrive. Easy tips


– Understand the real culture by talking to new hires/ ground staff/resigned people on what they say on a dayto-day basis


– Have focused development for people Managers on behavioural competencies/ core values 


Start talking openly about different types of biases that exist and how can leaders overcome those.


4. Create ERG for diversity to solve business challenges and get leadership spotlight. It is like innovation groups focused on women and a diverse set of people who can create an impact towards business ideas and have leadership attention. Remember every step that you take counts

Megha Gupta is Director HR at Fiserv. She is a professional with 17+ years of experience across Fortune 500 companies. Her areas of expertise includes strategic business partnership, organizational development, leadership development, talent management, Performance management, Diversity & Inclusion, Compliance and employee engagement.


0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe