Women can have it all if they aspire for it
Women business leaders finding their own way to break the shackles!
Sakshi, a software developer in a reputed IT firm, is leaving her job despite getting promoted. Her in-laws wanted an educated but stay-at-home bride for their son.
Neha was a consultant in a multinational consulting firm. She took maternity leave and finding it difficult to enter in the work stream again.
Ishita, a brilliant investment banker and an MBA from a reputed institute feels that her qualities are undermined. Her team doesn’t treat her fairly.
These situations exist pretty much everywhere. Corporate women face many challenges in their professions. A lot of thought has been given to finding solutions to these problems. How do you break the glass ceiling? How can organizations make office environment conducive for women? Everyone understands that there is a potential problem which needs to be solved. The problem can be due to demands on the family front or due to professional stereotypes. The challenges faced by women leaders are often talked about. It is assumed that organization should resolve it. I would say that all the stakeholders need to collaborate and solve the problem. The mind set of men, society should be changed along with the norms in the corporations. More importantly, women should push for the change. Sheryl Sandberg describes this as a chicken and egg problem. Chicken being the internal barriers that women face and egg being the external ones. I am a strong advocate of the fact that the shackles will be broken only when women push for the barriers to break. Women are strong and have an ability to manage both family and work. A firm believer of the power of women, I have compiled a checklist which every corporate women should refer to.
1. Discover Yourself!: A woman needs to find her own hobbies, liking. You should give some time to yourself. Discover what you want to be. How are you going to plan your future?
2. Make and Own Your Decisions: Many a times, women face a situation where others decide what is best for them. Be it in a professional setting or in a family. You are expected to listen to them and move along. The time has come to make your own decisions. The battle doesn’t end here. It is easy to make decisions but following them is another daunting task. Don’t make excuses and stand by your decisions.
3. Don’t Withdraw, Brace Yourself: “I won’t voice my opinion” or “No one will listen to me” are the frequent comments by female leaders. I would advise all of them to read Lean In or watch a Ted Talk by Sheryl Sandberg. She says, “Sit at the table”. This is proven by a study that women often take peripheral seats in a board room. Be confident and take the centre stage.
4. Aspire and Inspire: As I mentioned earlier about the chicken and egg problem and that women should start solving it. The effective strategy would be to connect with the women who have faced similar challenges and share experiences. A woman should aspire for big achievements and she should not do at the cost of her family life. At the same time, they can inspire others with their stories and advices.
5. Aim High and Fly Higher: Sky is the limit for those who dream. Opportunities are knocking on the door. We, women should just take a step towards your goals. I recently attended a two day event by HCL called HCL Womenspire. It was a great event in which 60 students from top 30 B Schools participated. The experience was fun filled and enriching. The theme was to discuss about the barriers women face and more importantly break free and celebrate womanhood.
Sairee Chahal, a serial entrepreneur explained the hard and soft aspects of starting own venture. She is a TED speaker. One of her startups counsels corporate women and provides full support and encouragement for their comeback or in integrating work and life. She said it is important for a woman to follow her own heart. “Concentrate the energy in the work you do”, was her mantra to be successful.
Mayuri Kangoo, a head of digital marketing, but we all know her as a cute girl from the famous song “Ghar se nikalte hi”. Her transition made from a bollywood actress to an MBA and now a successful marketer inspired us. A lot of women have capability to assume top management positions. However, they shy away from it due to other commitments. She is a perfect example of how to juggle everything.
There was a very unique workshop by Kathik. The workshop was filled with fun filled exercises. We got a chance to express ourselves in umpteen number of ways. One particular exercise was to describe ourselves. This activity involved cutting pictures from newspapers and pasting it on a page. It seemed an easy task. But, it really made me think and introspect.
Last but not the least, I will again like to repeat what Sheryl Sandberg has said, “Don’t leave before you leave!” HCL Womenspire was an attempt to emphasize the same thing. I connected to the women who have faced similar challenges and are still determined to move ahead. The attempt is to break the glass ceiling so that the daughters of tomorrow will have no more shackles left to break!
The Ted talk link: