Break the glass ceiling within YOU

Article by Dr. Divya Kumar, Associate Manager – Research, Avtar

Reunions are very always special. It is the time when we take off from our routine, eagerly await to see our pals to relive our cherished moments. It is beautiful to take a trip down our memory lane. It becomes even more special when it is with our all-girls gang. Every year our college alumni association team would send meet invite to our batch. But it was always the “regular few” who come together. This year we speculated whether the meet will be called amidst the COVID-19 , and just then our alumni team sent our first-ever virtual reunion invites. To everyone’s surprise, it was a full house! It was lovely to meet “virtually” every one after so many years. It was amazing to see little kids and families coming together. Truly, we all have come a long way, and each of our lives changed so much. It was amazing!

Reena, our college topper joined the reunion for the first time. She is working in a multinational bank and is a mother of two children at the junior school level. She is in the mid-stage of her amazing career and one of the identified Hi-Po talents at her organization. I was super excited to hear, but Reena did not have that vibrancy as she spoke. Her motherly guilt and more expectations from her at work is not supporting her in any direction and is in the dilemma to choose between family and career. It was just not Reena with this mind-set, but a few more working moms shared the same.

So, I decided to decode the questions that were pondering within me. Why woman like Reena(s) who have made significant progress in being recognized as outstanding managers, aren’t making it to the top? What is derailing them?

In today’s competitive corporate environment, women employees find it a bit more difficult to charter a plan, especially at their mid-career stage. Work-life balance is a major problem for today’s working women. The demands of full-time work conflict with the relational factors in their family life. Women feel they have to make difficult decisions that leads to the sacrifice their career or family, with little understanding of the influences that affect decision making. With the technological advancement of our work modules creating a clear boundary between home and work life is no longer possible. The traditional concept of work-life balance has now evolved as work-life integration. Work-life balance is a separation of your professional and personal lives whereas, work-life integration is a connection between work and personal life. Interestingly, organisations have started to embrace the idea of work-life integration with their career enablers like flexibility, remote work, childcare support etc.

But again, what is still that one factor that often disrupts or derails women professionals? Hay Group examined the performance and paths of 12 of the highest leading women in one Fortune 500 company and other executive women of global organizations. The study reveals that the highest-performing women had in common a strong orientation toward achievement. It is instrumental in driving an advancement to a large extent. To have control over your career requires you to be INTENTIONAL. The word “intent” refers to my mindset at the time of a specific action, and it’s something many don’t think about. While being intentional may mean you have to think more, purposeful actions yield better results as it is the ability to change what requires to be changed with maturity.

Here are the steps which can help you to create alignment of your goals, values and actions-

  • Identify a clear goal that you want to achieve professionally
  • Break down identified big goal into small objectives attached to timelines
  • Assertive and strategic planning enables you to be disciplined with your time and priorities.
  • Invest in professional development by staying open to new opportunities
  • Find innovative solutions to your workplace problems
  • Network and discuss with peers and colleagues to gain new insights
  • Track the progress will motivate to steer it in the direction of attaining your goals
  • Never hesitate to communicate and negotiate on what you want to your reporting managers

Be INTENTIONAL as you will certainly make a DIFFERENCE with more maturity and purposeful engagements to reach your desired GOAL!


YOUR PRESENCE & POWER MATTERS IN THIS WORLD!

Article by: Archana Sathish, Strategic Design Unit

“Women are born to cook, do household chores, and be responsible for childcare”. To be precise, people in older days believed, “women are not just born, but fit for only these tasks”. To rewind the Indian society also believed in child marriage and certain bizarre practices such as Sati, female infanticide etc. which is very rare today compared to what it was in those days. 

Thanks to Industrial revolution and Education which had actually changed the whole idea about what women are “also” capable of. Let’s just say that earlier women just accepted the rules and restrictions constructed by the Indian society. But if we see today, right from driving a train to holding the highest office in the Government, women are present everywhere. Women today have the courage to voice out opinions whenever necessary due to the given exposure. 

As we all know that women still do face obstacles today at the workplace, maintaining the work-home integration, and various other responsibilities. But the way women tackle issues at work and at home is praiseworthy! Yes, it is now widely acknowledged, and pretty much accepted, that there are no differences between men and women in either capability or potential as women are proving themselves again and again. However, whilst this is true of all the professions, and broadly across all manufacturing and service sectors, there are still some stark limits to perceived parity. 

Women comprise a significant segment of the workforce. And, while the number of women working today is a substantial increase from past years, there’s still a lot that can be done to increase the number of women who are not only part of the workforce, but remain engaged and active throughout their careers. 

Why are women important for workplace?

One possible reason is diversity. Diversity at work brings together different types of energies that complement each other. In a male dominated culture, the workplace loses out on all that women bring to the table – multitasking, customer-centricity, teamwork, a nurturing mind-set and so on. 

This does not mean that men don’t have these qualities, but women by design are more conditioned towards these characteristics. 

Secondly, women make for nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population. For a more balanced workplace they need to be represented equally, too. Actually, they need to have an equal representation in the larger scheme of things everywhere. 

Ready to look at some facts and figures?

  • By 2050, India Will Be the Most Populous Country in the World.
  • By 2027 the working-age population in India will be almost 20% (18.6%) of the entire global labour force.
  • Reaching gender parity would have a bigger impact in India than in any other region in the world.
  • Increasing women’s labor force participation by 10 percentage points could add $770 billion to India’s GDP by 2025.  
  • India’s labour force participation rate for women is low due to lack of suitable work, especially for women, is not readily available. Flexibility in work timings and proximity to their households are important.

When we have to talk about attainment of goals or building a solid workplace culture and atmosphere, traits such as empathy, intuition, and optimism of women are required towards the benefit of the company. Their emotional intelligence and passion helps to create a healthy and positive workplace relationship and well-rounded workforce. 

Male dominated workplaces is slowly turning into a myth. This might be the result of gender willingness, career intentionality, and confidence of female employees. To conclude, women are fighters! They are born to bring in revolution to the world!

 Let us all continue to respect their capability and recognize them for who they are! 

Reference: https://www.catalyst.org/research/womenintheworkforceindia


FACE IT. CHALLENGE IT. FIX IT.

Article by: Archana Sathish, Strategic Design Unit

Be it Politics, Technical/Non-Technical, Film Fraternity, Sales and many more challenging industries, women are omnipresent. We should feel delighted to have such notable figures in this world as they are proving themselves over and again. But are we looking at it right? Are we witnessing the deeper insights of women being in such varied industries? Are we are just looking at the bright side of it? Every situation has a boon and a bane. The question is have we looked at the bane? How many of us have noted the original reason for women employees quitting their jobs? How many of them speak up in case of serious issues? How many of us know that the darker side dominates over the brighter side in workplace? Women maybe mentally and emotionally strong. But do they have enough strength to face various situations? To be very honest, the challenges faced by men are completely different from the ones faced by women at work.  

As we know that harassment has always been a ‘bone of contention’. According to sources and reports, around 87% of women in workplaces do not file a complaint or do not speak up in case of any harassment. Also, around 60% of women face unwanted sexual advances at workplace. Yet they remain silent for various personal reasons and fear of losing their job. It’s not that it is inexorable, but can be minimized as companies are obliged to maintain a POSH Committee (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) for the safety of their women employees and staff. 

Workplace sexual harassment prevention has been a top priority for companies going into 2020 and will remain that way long after the high-profile scandals of the last year have faded. As a result, companies may have provided mandatory sexual harassment training to employees, consisting of definitions and clichéd examples. Just an insight though, there is an app that can help you track the number of times men speak over women in meetings. It’s called Woman, Interrupted. Load it on your phone and place it on the table. It doesn’t record it simply tracks when a woman’s voice is interrupted by a man’s. There are limits to this app. It’s not completely inclusive of women and men whose voices pitch outside the norm. But it can provide a rough, data-led way to show your boss the problem.  On the other hand, working mothers today who are called as “multitaskers” face good amount of issues due to work-life balancing. Surveys says that 44% reported that work-life balance is the toughest challenge in workplace. It’s 21st century and women from all around the world want it all; a blissful family, a rewarding career and some solitude to find some time for themselves. It’s not easy to juggle this as being a full-time working mom comes with bouts of stress and guilt for not being able to give equal time to work and family. But every will has a way! Women can speak up for flexible working

hours, modification or any amendments in shift timings as it is any day not safe for women to just take a walk alone post 9pm. Working mothers could have talks with their manager to consider scheduling important meetings during the time when the kids are asleep. They could allocate an isolated place for just working. Also, company managers can put themselves in the shoes of a

“People’s Manager” as they regularly inquire about their work-life situations where women communicate to them in case of any difficulties or stress faced by them.

Every job has its own value and today people are paid based on the intensity of their job role and designation. We believe that today the disparity in equal wages/pay aren’t existing as an alarming issue. Yet it’s happening in some parts of the world. Reports say Equal pay was listed as the most significant issue in the workplace by 51% of women in Britain. Over the last decade, male graduates could expect to earn 20% more than female graduates. This is why fair remuneration was of the biggest factors. Hence, women employees decide to move to a new job. 

How do they tackle such issues? Every women wants to be successful, isn’t it?

Firstly, sort out your priorities. Both personally and professionally. Ask yourself, what can be compromised or completely non-negotiable? What are the jobs you need to be marvelous at, what are the jobs you can be ‘just good at’? Try to make such adjustments and be clear in what you prioritize. Also there is nothing to feel ashamed of thinking that “I can’t do so much work” 

Master the art of delegation. But again, you are in the safer side being clear in what you should delegate, and what not to delegate. This can save you from fatigue and burnout situations. When it comes to personal affairs, working mothers can get the situation sorted by splitting house work with family members. In this way, everything gets balanced! While working at your desk, you can always stay connected with your kids by making video calls as technology allows you to get to know about the whereabouts of your loved ones. 

For all working mothers out there, every minute is crucial –at home and at work. If we all need to stay productive, all we need to do is keep chatty co-workers, smartphones, Television, casual surfing and other distractions at bay. Plan your weekend and allot sometime for ‘yourself’. Sometimes, it’s really alright to think about yourself, have some leisure time and pamper yourself. Go to a spa, get a massage, watch your favorite TV series, read a book, travel solo, or just do nothing at all as many most of us prefer doing nothing, but just sitting and glaring all day!

It’s all about compromises, sacrifices and constant adjustments to lead a decent- comfortable life. It’s better to be prepared and learn to make the most of your time and energy. The more we know ourselves and our priorities, the more balanced our life would be. So, the ball is in your court! 

References: https://isight.com/resources/guidetoworkplacesexualharassmentinfographic/


MLM: Musings of a Locked-up Mother

Article by: Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Senior Manager, Media & Public Relations

It has been more than four months that all of us are settling down in the new normal. Wait, have we settled in the real sense?

For starters, let’s define the new normal.

Normal (n): The usual typical unexpected state of a house where nothing is in order and one has to walk on landmines (read: toys, pencils, erasers, newspapers, towels et al).

The Coronavirus Pandemic has ensured that all of us stay cooped up in our respective homes with our “loved” ones. The days or even the nights have been blurred into one. Don’t even get me started on my attempts to leave my loved ones at my house to disappear in an atmosphere called “The office”! An office that was a platform for “me-time”, conversations both meaningful and casual with real people in the real world, and much more!

The new “normal” has ushered in an era for working moms where social distancing is practised externally, but inside the houses, children are yet to discover the meaning of the phrase. They are in constant touch with us and we cannot report to the authorities. By the way, my 8-year old daughter popped in some 10 times as I completed the first three paragraphs of this article. That’s the first layer of MLM – Musings of a locked-up Mother!

The new “normal” has ensured that there is no morning rush to pack multiple dabbas. But the working mothers have learnt to feed their children three meals and some 500 snacks in a day! We have even got innovative with our culinary expertise. We serve “red kidney beans cooked in rich tomato gravy with exotic spices on a flat bread”. And, there is tamarind infused hot & sour sauce boiled in home-ground spices served with fried chips as entrée. We cook a large quantity of something hoping that it lasts for the next meal only to find the pot empty in one meal. Is this what they call, One Pot One Shot cooking?

The other layer of lockdown days is discovering the Savage mom in me. In the first quarantine month, my family comprising two kids and a husband had what I called as “choice day”. So, each of them savoured their favourite dish every day. In the fourth Quarantine month, they still are provided with choices. This time it is simple – Take it or Leave it!

Yes, this is that layer of Covid-19 that no one is talking about! Scheduling grocery delivery for the next day on an online store feels like a celebration now. Not to mention that the delivery man is the most anticipated guest in our house.

They say, necessity is the mother of all inventions or termed the “Jugaad” in this part of the world. So, making use of the “social distancing” era, I tried a few jugaads too on inventing home-made anti-corona medicines, thanks to the Whatsapp university. But none of my inventions could go pass the first phase of trials, as my human guinea pigs ghosted me on those critical trial days.

I never imagined myself in a position of providing my children with their education. In the new stay-at-home days. I have mastered the art of conducting tests, finishing their classwork as well as homework (is there a difference?) and not scream at the insane hours of sitting up late to dole out school worksheets. 

And, finally I had the Mother of all Revelations. When the enforced lockdown began, I promised myself to stick to my workout routine, or the least (note this word) maintain a diet that would if not anything else help curb my weight gain. With the endless washing, cooking, chopping, stirring up a green salad is an added item in the menu. The phrase, “healthy food” has flown out of the kitchen window replacing with “Stick-to-me” type of items. It would be a “medical miracle” if I don’t weigh 10 kgs more than what I did Before Corona!   

Finally, the Pandemic has taught us an important lesson – both Mothers and Fathers are at present facing a re-organization of both work and care-giving time at home. While working mothers are actually busy integrating work and life, fathers are busy too lending their hands in their Whatsapp groups. No offence meant, there is a huge population of men out there who genuinely have begun to help their women folk at home. The Pandemic is likely to change the age old Patriarchal mindsets in Indian homes. This in the long run will (hopefully) have a positive effect on the productivity of both men and women professionals in a Post Pandemic world, if I may say so.