Women In Today’s Workforce

Women In Today’s Workforce

While gender inequality cannot be solved overnight, there are certain actions that companies can take to include gender and make it more inclusive.


“Rapunzel... Rapunzel... let down your hair ...” on hearing this, Rapunzel would let her hair down and allow the person to come up the tower where she was locked. As kids, we have listened to this story several times. The question is why did Rapunzel not chop some of her hair and save herself! Now, women in today’s world will be rendered as Rapunzels if they allow themselves to burn with the overload of work at home and office.


The last two years of the pandemic have been stressful in many ways. It is not merely the work, but the stress we had for our own families, teams and friends. Everyone was solving problems that were impacting not just organisational health, but also mental and physical health.


The domestic situation altered for many. With schools being virtual, nearly all the parents had to focus on their child’s education. Schooling apart, every individual was donning multiple hats like house help, cook, parental care, after school care and so on. It was impossible for many to play multiple roles, and this led to many quitting their demanding jobs to manage their homes - the obvious choice for women. And why is that? That is because women have naturally taken a back seat in their careers with childbirth, maternity care and return to work post-sabbatical which led to a lower pay as compared to the spouse.


Hence, the pandemic did see women dropping off the workforce for family reasons. This, in a way, impacted the female power built in the organisation for years. This also led to poor wealth accumulation for the women themselves.


The pandemic does not have a rule book, to define what is right and what is not. Today’s circumstances do not equate with the pandemic that occurred 100 years ago. Every organisation has a D&I initiative, and the question is whether organisations had a chance to review their existing policies and initiatives for the new normal. And if not, it is evident that those organisations that are trying to navigate through the new normal are not making it an inclusive workplace and the very chance of collaboration and success thereafter is deteriorating.


What Women Want!


 So, let us understand the formula “W3” – What Women Want! In my experience as a Talent specialist within Human resources, I have spoken to thousands of women professionals across all levels in the last two decades - some aspiring and some established. All of them had common traits. There were some who succeeded and some who did not grow up to the leadership level, and for obvious reasons, leaked through the funnel midway.


Let us look at some traits that come out evidently that helped them succeed


1. Ask for it, there is nothing that you lose: Whenever there are opportunities or assignments or equivalent where the woman feels that she would like to try or believes that she has the right experience to do so but is not being considered, it is a good idea to ask for it. The worst scenario would be the manager saying no, but at least, they have tried and pitched for it. Most women felt that it eventually registered with the management that the individual is aligned, motivated and deserves an opportunity. That opportunity either came immediately or later!


2. Make your career decisions: I have personally witnessed a huge shift in this. Earlier, for safety reasons, it was the parents who would decide which company and what shift of the day a woman should be working. Later, the same responsibility moved to the partners. With organisations consciously working towards a safe and secure place for women, this has faded to some extent. However, even today, we see women depending on their spouses for career advice. Some amount of coaching and mentoring will certainly help; however, women should be able to weigh their own options, design the support around family, and jump in to make those critical decisions. 3. Find your mentor: There are always those superstars that we look up to all the time. Find time to speak to them and learn from them. While we upskill on technology, process, products and so on, it is important to upskill our competency behaviours as a human to learn how to navigate through complex situations and decision-making.


4. Build habits that you enjoy: If you love reading books, working out or gardening, or anything else for that matter, make time from your busy schedule at least once a week and gradually build it into a habit. Finding ‘me time’ for yourself is an authentic way to progress. The habit building indirectly builds a lot of confidence that impacts how we handle work too.


5. Never underestimate: Finally, never undermine your capabilities. A survey points out that men tend to apply for a job even if they fit 70%, while women will not unless they fit 100% for it. Go for it and build that confidence. While gender inequality cannot be solved overnight, there are certain actions that companies can take to include gender and make it more inclusive. The initiatives of D&I will nurture and foster the role of women in the workplace. Hence, dear Rupunzals, while the environment is becoming more suitable, let us be our own asset, shift our mindset, and drop the hair for ourselves too for a better today and tomorrow!


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