If You Don't Fit In, Then Just F-IT

If You Don't Fit In, Then Just F-IT

Women, who could not continue with their careers due to challenges in mobility, are experiencing more than ever flexible work options.


A World Bank report published in June 2020 highlighted that women were 7 times more likely to lose employment due to the lockdown and 11 times more likely than men not to return to work after the subsistence of the crisis and restoration of assumed normalcy. Most of these women reportedly gave up on their own, mid-pandemic. In the 2021 Gender Pay Gap Index highlighting 156 countries, India has trickled down 28 places and is now ranked 140 out of 156 countries. It has also been highlighted that one of the reasons for the drop is the level of its women’s economic participation and political empowerment.


While there are statistics glaring sharply at us, I would like to present an optimistic point of view on how women are evolving through this pandemic as more self-reliant people. Women are associated with styling and outfits more naturally than men. Women have evolved in this field, and today, we see Instagram pages where women from urban and rural areas, multiple age groups, and from different economic backgrounds are emerging as style icons with huge fan followings across the globe. Careers are not far behind.


Careers and Styling are not very different from each other


I say this because a decision of what to wear could have two options. One could be to go for a readymade outfit of one’s size or the other could be to go for a tailored outfit. Similarly, when a person wants to work, there are two options - to get employed in an organisation, or to become an entrepreneur. Both have their own pros and cons.


Styling or conditioning oneself to fit a particular career role might go wrong if one follows what the majority of the crowd accepts and appreciates. An outfit marketed by a popular model could be a huge hit, because of which, one could buy it and wear it, but that may not be the best outfit for the person. Similarly, when choosing a career, choosing a path that most people choose may not be the best fit for an individual.


Not just the above two points, here is the third reason why Careers and Styling are not very different from each other. If someone chooses an outfit for a person and they decide to wear it because they like the person who gifted it, in spite of not liking it will only spoil the look of the individual. On the same lines, choosing a career because of a piece of advice given by a person despite not believing in it, might not help the person to enjoy and grow in the career.


Finally, the point of changes in styling and career brings it even closer to each other. An outfit that was a perfect fit at a point in time, may not be the best fit as the person grows. It could be because of many reasons. Similarly, in a career, as a professional grows, a skillset that worked sometime back may not work always.


The New Emergence


The pandemic has enabled a deeper introspection of reality and we are seeing people getting bolder with decisions on what suits them best. This holds true for everyone and women are not missed out. Women have wider opportunities now. Women, who could not continue with their careers due to challenges in mobility, are experiencing more than ever flexible work options. Women who had taken breaks in their careers due to various reasons are getting opportunities to build their expertise in their areas of interest and rejoin the workforce.


An interesting trend now is that small, medium and large enterprises are showing interest in attracting women talent. The portals offering jobs for women have increased and advertisements inviting women to rejoin the workforce post their maternity break is also on the rise.


Women Entrepreneurs are on the rise. 42% of American businesses are owned by women, employing 9.4 million people and generating revenues of 1.9 trillion USD. In India, almost all the State Governments offer schemes motivating women to become entrepreneurs. Udyam Sakhi is a portal launched by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise that offers support for women to start their own business.


There are specific awards launched for women entrepreneurs and employees to recognise their outstanding contribution globally and in India. 


If women don’t FIT IN, then they just F-IT.


Here are a couple of examples of how they just F-IT with 3 steps of FIND, FLEX & FIX, one of an entrepreneur and the other of an employee.


Find IT


As an entrepreneur, Roopali, who was running a School Uniform Business was losing avenues of income with schools closing down physically and moving to online mode. Her goal was to sustain her business, holding her raw material for Uniforms lying useless. She had to FIND what she needed to do to survive and grow. To manage the pandemic and grow the business, her FIND was to move to an alternate business with the same raw material.


As an employee IT Manager, Velvizhi had to manage both home and office. She managed a project of 6oo employees - offshore and onsite. Her partner was also employed. She had her parents to take care of. Both her children were into online schooling. 


She had to start pinning down what would make this work. She had to FIND the problems to attack. Creating an infrastructure that would let 4 members of the family continue with work and school was a high priority, along with avoiding health risks for the entire family.


Flex IT


Roopali, was not rigid, holding on to what she knew very well already. She quickly reinvented her business. With the same supply she had, she decided to fulfil a different demand during the pandemic, by producing masks.


‘Some flexibility in financial investments and activity schedules wouldn’t hurt’, thought Velvizhi. Procuring required infrastructure and drawing a boundary of timelines and responsibilities at both home and office helped her shape up her schedules. She had to convince multiple stakeholders to make this work. It was not easy. But she drew a plan that she decided to execute.


Fix IT


She had to FIX her business with the new model by identifying a completely new customer base. Her new customer base started with Maharashtra Police. She continued to FIX every gap as her business grew. She virtually trained people to produce masks. She sold more than a million masks and continues her business online.


Now that Velvizhi did her FIND and FLEX right, she knew how to FIX the problems that came her way. She was looked at as rude in the beginning for rejecting timeline extensions/ variations. But later, all stakeholders realised the value of her ask and started supporting her, this included both office and home. She emerged as more productive at work and could spend quality time for herself and her family.


Tomorrow is brighter than today


There has been a 13 per cent growth in internet adoption taking it to 299 million users over the past year. Today, the number of internet users in urban areas are higher than in rural areas and this is expected to reverse by 2025. Digital is enabling empowerment for everyone and from what we are experiencing, women are making the best use of it. So, if they think they don’t FIT, they would just F-IT.


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