Women leaders: it’s time to #breakthebias

There is a constant focus on women’s empowerment and women’s equality in modern society. However, the awareness and ascension of women as contributors to the labor force has not yet been sufficient in terms of equal opportunity for growth, respect for professional sense or equal pay everywhere. in the world. According to the data, even if she has the same job profile and performs as well as or better than a male colleague, the average woman is paid more than 18% less.

With over 650 million women, India has an incredible demographic dividend that can be harnessed. However, more than 75% of these women have not yet entered the world of formal employment. Even when, through hard work and knowledge, women enter the corporate world, they face the “glass ceiling” in most organizations. It is clear that since the pandemic outbreak, 5% of women have lost their jobs while the corresponding number for men is around 3.9%.

It is often perceived that a woman should prioritize her family responsibilities or the success of her spouse rather than her own professional ambitions. This is one of the main reasons why very few women visit conference rooms. This glass ceiling or gender bias, as it is aptly called, leads to women being given more of the routine and support tasks that are inherently essential to the day-to-day running of the business. However, when it comes to more important tasks or leadership roles, men are preferred over women. According to the World Economic Forum, contrary to popular belief, the bias is so widespread that at the current rate, it will take women in India almost 194 years to reach parity with men.

This discrepancy is totally unjustified, especially when we objectively assess the case of women on boards of directors, solely on the basis of their behavioral, intellectual and operational capacities. Women are inherently more empathetic, better at communication and in their commitment to their responsibilities. When we look at the confidence with which a woman carries out her professional duties, this again emerges as an advantage for her.

Indeed, a study had revealed that women outperformed men on 17 of the 19 parameters that separate great leaders from average or mediocre leaders. For example, 55.6% showed initiative abilities, while only 48.2% of men were ready to move forward.

Regarding the demonstration of honesty and integrity, the percentage for women was 54% against 49.1% for men. 54.7% of women demonstrated resilience against 49.3% of men. Personal development, which is probably one of the most important parameters of leadership, saw 54.8% of women take an interest in it, compared to 49.6% of men. Similar gaps were seen in areas such as motivating others and supporting other people’s career development.

Given these numbers, it’s almost unbelievable how skewed the numbers are in favor of men on corporate boards. It is almost as if the glass ceiling is in place to prevent the superior skills displayed by women from entering decision-making roles.

To some extent, lack of self-awareness and confidence in their own abilities also contribute to women’s low participation in strategic roles at all levels. Being sensitive and, by constitution, more concerned with the general well-being of the family, women tend to underestimate their abilities and take their own contributions lightly. This mindset of becoming great wives, mothers and housewives must be balanced with the need to show women’s professional competence.

Women also tend to focus more on perfection and following established regulations, protocols and stipulations. If there is a job, a woman would only apply if she is sure that she meets the required qualifications and eligibility. Such an apprehensive approach must be supplemented with encouragement and self-awareness.

This is where the role of the current leaders of various organizations becomes more critical.

Female leaders need to fight for greater gender equality in the C-suite. There needs to be an overhaul of the grooming and promotion mechanics in these companies. Instead of the widespread prejudice of the default grooming of a male-dominated line of succession in the corporate hierarchy, we need to put in place a system in which men and women are equally empowered and encouraged to step up.

A typical example is the PR and communications industry where women strike first.

Two-thirds of this industry is made up of professional women and the responsibility does not stop there. We need more examples of women leaders across all sectors and industries. It’s not about which genre suits which role, but rather individual ability and caliber.

This thought must percolate at all levels.

Angelina Jolie once remarked, “There is no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated woman.”

Needless to say, businesses in the post-pandemic era need stability more than anything else. For this to happen, the change needed is not just to diversify the lecture halls, but to give legitimate entry to deserving and definitely capable women!



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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