Reckoning With Women In The Workforce

Reckoning With Women In The Workforce

Women have always contributed to the workforce, but today, we find them surging ahead in every profession and they are a force to reckon with.


In the present-day work scenario, we appreciate and consider capability more than Gender. I agree we may not have attained the desired level when we talk of women in the workforce, but, we are unfailingly moving towards building a better workplace for individuals, women included. There are various organisations and places where numbers have not shown a drastic shift, but we cannot ignore that women’s representation has improved remarkably in the last few years with companies becoming.


The previous two years, since the onset of the pandemic, have been challenging for everyone, and it has impacted the full circle of everyone’s life. Organisations have witnessed fear, stress, insecurity, burnout of their employees and have acknowledged that females have had to face it more than others. Organisations alone cannot be held responsible for the alarming numbers concerning women in today’s workforce. Society and individuals also play a substantial role, if not an equal one in ensuring that women are given the recognition they deserve.


Women in a few places have not seen the desired sunlight and have not been able to take centre stage because they were unsure, but in many different roles, they have outshined others as they emerged as leaders and makers of their life and the people around them. Today, the word WOMAN stands for- Wise, Open-minded, Maker, Authentic, Neutral and this has additionally emerged as Winner, optimistic, Mindful, adaptable, and nurtured to meet the NEW and NEXT normal. Since having to adapt to the work from home and hybrid work models, women have been learning it the hard way but have never given up. They have taken juggling home and family and maintaining that work-life balance in their stride and Today what we see is a WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE AND CHOICE.


Organisations have proactively designed initiatives and strategies to build, support and enable a competent workforce of women. In the past, most of us have been reactive; we have made modifications to rectify the wrong. Now, the time requires us to be more futuristic than ever; organisations should know what’s coming their way and the best ways to address those scenarios. In addition, organisations must move from REPAIR TO PREPARE mode. Strategies have to be more PROACTIVE than REACTIVE by following factors coined as the ‘PROACTIVE’ principle:


Predictive: Discuss, research, analyse; to know what the future may bring. Many organisations feel wrong about an inequitable ratio of men and women, but how many of us work around it to make it better and bring about change? Do we have a number or percentage in mind? Do we have a strategy to achieve that number? Organisations should have plans for future needs that they can modify as and when needed.


Realistic: Organisations need to understand that they do not have to get the best of the best but have to build the best of and from what they have. Intent always plays a significant role, but it has to be authentic. Strategies introduced should be understood, accepted, and implemented. Women should be allowed to take on leadership positions and decision-making roles within organisations. It is time gender bias stops. Today we all have a choice; we can either speak up for women or stand by and be silent spectators to the inequality that prevails in some industries. Opportunities: Walk the talk. As per McKinsey’s report, women made up only 22% of C-Suite executives. We all talk about how much we want to make this work; DIE has been an age-old buzzword. How much of that do we practice? Organisations have to create opportunities; to enable and empower women to contribute more meaningfully.


Adaptable: With COVID-19, we have all learned to be adaptable to meet the needs of the time. How flexible is our system to accommodate the needs of individuals? I have come across a few organisations that have incentivised managers who promote women with challenges instead of saying that they can’t be part of my project as this will need more working hours and much higher dedication. Initiatives like Commensurate Salary, Flexible Hours, SupportHer, Train to lead; provide the necessary support to women in the workforce of today.


Communication: Talk to people, tell them what the reason behind the initiative is, how can they contribute, what are we trying to accomplish, and how soon we intend to reach there. People become part of the process and make it a success. Organisations shy away or do not recognise the need to communicate the intent; the usual approach is to announce the initiative. Not all leaders plan the much-needed “PRE and POST” implementation conversation with the most impacted people. The McKinsey study found that about 33% of women never have meaningful interaction with seniors. We must talk about empowering women as much as possible; the more the awareness; the easier will be its acceptance, involvement, and implementation.


Training: There will always remain two options; one, we tell people that we should take the right path, and second, we create that path. Teaching or preaching was never that difficult. Authentic leadership is reflective of the game and co-owns the growth process. Organisations should identify the challenges and need to strengthen their women workforce and train them to strive and thrive.


Invest: You reap what you sow! Delegating or leaving it up to time will not fetch the result any organisation dreams of achieving. Organisations will need some concrete planning, openness to change and realign, time to think and rethink, resources to work, and a lot more to make that magic happen. “29% of women believe their gender will be an obstacle to advancement”- McKinsey. Defining and building a better place for women cannot be considered less than a critical project, where the organisation must put the best of everything supported by a strong vision, mission, and intent.


Value-added: Nobody will flourish in a not so win-win situation. Strategies should reflect the value addition aspect, how it’s beneficial for both, and how much it means to the organisation to have that (each) individual in the system even if she happens to be a woman. “The Organisation needs you” makes so much more sense than “you need this organisation.” People put in more effort when they know their contribution makes that little difference that the organisation is proud of and values. Having been overlooked so often, women appreciate their contribution being acknowledged and their voice heard.


Empathetic: Time is such that every woman wishes and asks for little consideration and some empathy. Few would need just a bit of your attention or little push to grow, and others may need counselling, training, and few exceptions. Not saying to be unreal, but stay open to hear them out and tune in to the possible extent to give that motivation that can change someone’s life.


Organisations have shown a considerable improvement in tackling challenges fronted by the women workforce, which is observable in today’s world. To create a more promising, more reasonable, and more accountable place for all, the Intent (purpose), Talent (people), Sentiment (emotions), and Content (communication) should never be compromised.


Let us choose to be differentiators, not discriminators. Women’s position in the corporate world has not changed dramatically, and there is no substantial shift that numbers can portray. The good news is, this is what reports have to say about the world, not your organisation; we may not be able to change the world at once, but who is stopping us from initiating a “Mexican (human) wave”? Let the rhythm begin; people will follow. We have all heard the famous saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” time to be one!


Make your workplace an inspiring one!

Dr Ankita Singh is the Senior Vice President & Global Head of HR at CIGNEX Datamatics. She has over 19 years of experience in managing various aspects of HR spanning across domains of ITES. She holds a PhD in Management and was named one of Forbes India’s Top 100 Great People Managers.


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