5.00am the alarm rings, she wakes up and starts the day cooking, getting the kids ready for school, drops them off at school, goes to office, works 9.00 to 7.00 attending meetings, deadlines, gets back home by 8pm, cooks dinner, helps the kids with their homework and then hits the bed exhausted by 11.00 pm having to repeat this entire roller coaster ride the next day, day after day! Welcome to “a day in the life of a working Indian woman!” This leaves us with the much-asked question, “can women have it all?”
A study by recruitment firm, Portfolio Payroll showed that working women spend an average of 17 hours a week on domestic chores vs less than 6 hours spent by men. Over 85% women did everyday chores, such as the laundry, cleaning, cooking, food shopping, looking after sick relatives and carrying out repairs. But men only made a significant contribution by mending faulty items around the house. 48% Indian women drop out of careers due to this double burden!  Not just on the home front even at work. Their representation at senior level position is a mere 7.8% and at CXO level it falls to 1.8% according to a recent Grant Thorton survey.  Additionally, research shows that men are 3 times more likely to be promoted than women!
All this is leading to the Indian working women gaining the title of “the most stressed on planet earth” according to a recent Neilson report.  Like a senior VP of Human Resources at a leading global IT company who has spent 17 years working there, had to say- “ a woman’s ambition can be fueled only if the woman is lucky to step into the into the right organization and the right family after marriage” as was the case with her.
Flexi working policies at office and a change in the mindset of men to take on an equal role in sharing house hold chores and recognizing that women also can have a successful career are steps in the right direction. However, there is still a long time before these changes can make a serious impact to working Indian women. So, what can women do today – here and now to address this situation as it stands while not having to sacrifice their careers or succumb to stress related health issues?
The right support system can help women achieve this. A recent poll conducted by Pink Ladder saw over 70% of women agreeing that with the right support system and direction, women can have it all! We at Pink Ladder believe there are 3 ways in which women can move closer to achieving this:
- Being affirmative while not losing their autonomy:
Women can learn ways to communicate with assertiveness without being overly adaptive or needlessly aggressive. This can lead to more openness among the partners involved at home. They should prioritize areas of excellence and focus on them. They can learn to delegate the ones that are not on the priority list. On the work front, they should train people in their teams and encourage them to take on more responsibilities. They can also focus on acquiring effective communication skills that foster open and honest discussions. This ensures everyone feels validated and more involved and leads to better problem solving. Last but not the least, learn to say no. Women needn’t have to take on all responsibilities. They can learn to take a step back and let others shoulder the burden too.
- Understanding & leveraging support systems that are available
The ecosystem today offers women many experts who can help them manage professional and personal situations better.
- Coaches: They can be life coaches, business coaches and executive coaches. Life coaches help one to identify priorities in life and help with behavioral patterns that one would have acquired in his/her adult life. Business coaches can give direction and advice on business related areas or issues and executive coaches help hone leadership skills and showcase them to the right stakeholders
- Mentors: These are people who have successfully scaled the corporate ladder and can advise on how to maneuver successfully and effectively within a corporate
- Leadership Development Trainers: Help develop better communication skills, team handling skills among other areas
- Counsellors: Counsellors help with behavioral patterns one would have acquired during childhood. They help build resilience from within that canlead to more autonomy and a better intrapersonal relationship.
- Image Consultants: They can guide to create the best first impressions through the right body language, dressing, etiquette among others.
- Child care & elder care providers- There are few reputed organizations who offer these services which give an opportunity to women to focus on their career while not carrying a guilt that they are compromising on personal responsibilities.
- Managing wellness & stress while going through all this
A healthy body and mind cannot be underestimated. One cannot get away from stress, but one can reduce the negative impact it has on our body and mind. The food we eat, the exercise we do and meditation go a long way in keeping us healthy. This in turn gives us more energy to tackle the next promotion or role change that we are aiming for or help us have a better work-life balance
With all this on offer and more to come, can women have it all? Yes, of course they can!