Across many industries, there is still a big gap between the number of men and women in the workplace especially further up the leadership ladder. According to me, there are many factors which contribute fewer women in top leadership. Lot of times the basic thing lacking is 'Intent'. There are few corporates which really focuses on Gender Diversity, rest are just there to report the numbers at a workplace. If corporate really want to see equal ratios for male and female in leadership roles, they should not only hire the right women talent but equally important to nurture and make them ready for the higher roles, which I feel is not happening.
Another big thing is an unconscious bias among managers. While discussing the promotions of every potential woman, there is a hesitation to offer them a higher position considering their dual role as worker and caregiver both. It turns out that man more often gets the kind of 'high-profile assignments, mission-critical roles, and international experiences' that typically lead to the C-suite and above. Noticeably, statistics show that while at the entry level there is almost 50-50 ratio which joins the workforce but in 8-10 years the percentage of women in the workplace drops down.
"Transformation of the education sector including the structures and composition of school management, governance, and education ministries is needed to create a gender equitable environment"
The topmost issue in the workplace for women is gender bias. Jobs that require frequent travel, physical exertion and so on are still open for men only as they are considered more eligible than women. Many companies while hiring women employees ask them openly about their marriage and further family planning as they cannot afford the maternity leaves and other flexibility perks. Another most noticeable challenge that women of today face at the workplace is the work-life imbalance. Differentiating personal life and professional career becomes little hard for women in general. They tend to mix up work commitments with personal priorities and that's when all the issue starts.
A noticeable obstacle is pre and post maternity leaves environment. Once the lady resumes office post her maternity break, she may be in for surprise as her role would no more be the same. She may have to begin from beginning all over again. In this regard, women should have a clear career plan and should share it as and when required. Results do not speak for themselves, and opportunities do not just fall into our laps. Self-advocacy is a critical behavior to learn, unfortunately, most women struggle with it. Successful women know how to own their strengths and accomplishments, share how they add value to the organization and ask for opportunities to grow and advance.
Education as a Game Changer
Education sector plays a very important role to inspire more girls to take a leadership role. In the school or college, girls understand the fact that gender equality is vital for achieving sustainable development and protecting the environment. Education can equip individuals with skills and knowledge to understand environmental problems and help tackle them. Equal representation in leadership and community decision-making is more likely to build better resilience, improve risk management and advance environmental preservation.
What happens in classrooms is crucial for challenging gender gaps in leadership. Quality schooling can offer young girls opportunities to learn about and practice leadership roles through school clubs and committees. Female role models can attract girls to school and improve their learning outcomes. Transformation of the education sector including the structures and composition of school management, governance, and education ministries is needed to create a gender equitable environment.
The Secret Mantra
Challenges are everywhere. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new and good is the challenge that you must impose on yourself. More challenges one faces in life, her achievements and memories increase manifolds. Instead of dreading the challenges if one learns to treat challenges as stepping stones of success they will hardly feel its magnitude. Women have to break the soft sweet image in order to succeed in their work endeavor. Being as fierce, stable and aggressive as a lioness and working towards her goals without any distraction makes a woman achieve her goal with precision.
Identify yourself; know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go. You are unique as a finger-print and the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service. Surround yourself with women who might be in the positions you want to strive to be in or other leadership roles and get to know them. The biggest thing in the corporate world is building your own professional portfolio and how you set yourself apart from everyone else. By developing these skills early in your career, you will be a step ahead.
Saloni Vijay, General Manager & IT - Head
Completed her MCA from Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Saloni Vijay is currently holding the position of IT Head in Vodafone Mobile Service Limited. Being served Vodafone in varied roles over the Saloni is responsible for handling circle IT operations including IT Service Management, IT Infrastructure Management, IT Security & Audits, LAN/WAN, Applications and so on.