Article By Mr. Karthik Ekambaram, Vice President – Diversity and Inclusion, AVTAR Group
Men are an untapped resource when it comes to overcoming gender disparities in the Corporate World. This idea, that men can be allies to gender diversity is something the Corporate World is now focussing on. In fact, men have a very important role to play in an organisation’s gender diversity strategy as one of the key stakeholders for a gender balanced workplace.
While most of the initiatives in the present scenario are seen as Women centric or addressing the issues of Women, it is not only important but essential to include Men in the conversations and discussions around gender balance and advancement of women.
Diversity is a given and its benefits have been proven beyond doubt. More Women are entering the workplace than ever before. Studies have shown that the Women score better on employability skills and have a higher success rate in clearing interviews. One of the factors that limit the inclusion and advancement of Women are stereotypes, mindsets and bias – unconscious or otherwise. With more women entering the workplace, these limitations become self-limitation for men’s own career development. Overcoming these limitations require awareness, acceptance and appreciation.
- Awareness about the existence of stereotypes and bias that have crept into our mindsets and workplace, based on years of conditioning. Being aware that we are prone to make decisions based on this conditioning will help bring about a change in our mindsets.
- The world is changing by the day and becoming increasingly diverse. Therefore, the way forward is to accept the change and embrace people of all backgrounds. People living in denial will be left behind. Acceptance has been the foundation of India’s long cherished history.
- Appreciate and value people for their true worth. For this, it is very important for us to understand what each individual can do and is capable of doing rather than what we perceive they can or cannot do.
One of the easier ways to make this change possible is by having Men play an active role by:
- Volunteering for formal and informal mentoring programs. It will provide opportunities to understand the challenges faced by Women and become sensitive to their needs.
- Becoming Sponsors and advocates for Women.
- Taking up more responsibilities at home. According to the World Economic Forum, the Gender Chore Gap in India is about 300 minutes. This is one of the widest among the Countries surveyed which includes countries like US, Japan, China etc. It is high time we narrowed the Gap.
One thing is clear – It is not that Women can achieve success only with Men’s support. But it is about creating a conducive and supportive atmosphere where both men and women come together for the advancement of women and ensuring a gender fair workplace.