Today, we have a critical mass of women leaders. Their experiences—how they overcame the challenges, what are the lessons they learnt, where assertiveness helps, where tact helps—are invaluable knowledge for the younger set of women professionals
It is a no-brainer that gender diversity as a practice has still not percolated across Indian corporate sector the way it should have been—considering the discussion around it that we are witnessing for so long.
While we blame lack of awareness and sensitivity among top leadership for this, that is at best one of the factors. No major change—and it has a societal change part attached to it—will effectively take place unless it is turned to a peoples’ movement. From Gandhi to Modi, we have seen enough examples of that.
The time has come to turn gender diversity into a program by the women, of the women, but for a wider impact on business and society.
I say this because of a specific reason. If we do a little deep dive, we find India’s gender representation issue at the entry workforce level in some industries are comparable, even better than many of the developed countries. It is only when we look at the top level—board representation, top management, senior middle level—that we see the stark contrast.
Take, for example, Indian IT services industry. Its gender diversity practices are one of the best in the world. Yet, even that industry has this challenge of women in senior positions.
So, the armchair logic that it is a gap with our education enrollment does not hold water. It is an out and out corporate issue.
Nothing works better than seeing successful role models around you, continuously communicating with them, being helped by them. That is why mentorship is so important.
Today, we have a critical mass of women leaders. They have risen there not because of—but despite—the environment.
Their experiences—how they overcame the challenges, what are the lessons they learnt, where assertiveness helps, where tact helps, there are just many, many things—are invaluable knowledge for the younger set of women professionals.
There is an opportunity before the enterprise IT community to lead the change. I say this because they are well-bonded, non-competitive and can easily collaborate across organizational boundaries.
Can they lead the change?