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5 ways Manbassadors can use their authority to change workplace culture
Many researchers point out to the fact that gender equality in the workplace improves profitability. Companies with healthy representation of female CXOs have been found to perform better than those with more male CXOs at the helm. Additionally, another recent research shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity which had more male champions for women (who we call #manbassadors) in their organizations were found to be 15% more likely to perform better than those who didn’t. This clearly shows the role manbassadors can play in using their authority to push for workplace culture change.Below are 5 ways in which manbassadors can positively influence the workplace culture:
  • Set up an open house with the women in their team to listen to what is working and what are the challenges they continue to face. Let the learnings from this, lead to better policies and actions to address the gender inequality within the team and the Company as a whole
  • Create a cost/benefit business case for every project they handle which would include the best talent of all genders and showcase how it can amplify results. This strengthens the business case for gender equal teams and serves as a rebuttal to the naysayers.
  • Utilize their Management positions within their company to send out a strong signal that inclusivity in the workplace is important and biases will be swiftly addressed. Constructive discussions should be encouraged, so that biases are brought out into the open and employees are made aware of their impact
  • Show courage and persistence in overcoming resistance to gender inclusiveness even within their own teams and peer groups. This can be achieved only through a structured approach. They can set up talent days within their organization to identify top talent, especially women (rising stars), set metrics that will be measured from a diversity perspective within their teams and ensure there is a gender-equal interview/appraisal panel within their teams.
  • Establish a strong credibility about themselves among key leadership within the organization so that they can single-handedly champion women into positions they truly deserve.
  • Push back gender stereotypes during meetings or reviews. Women constantly getting interrupted or being constantly overlooked for key projects, need to be noticed and addressed, to ensure an equal playing field for all
  • Last, but not the least, they need to be very comfortable in their own skin and believe in the values of having equity in the workplace and be willing to stand up and fight for it come what may!
At #PinkLadder, we have recently announced #Manbassadorawards to honor such male champions in organizations because we strongly believe that gender equality is not about “He vs She” but “He and She” working together hand in hand. We would urge all our readers to nominate such manbassadors in their organizations and encourage many more to champion this cause.
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Think beyond just meeting your women representation quotas!
Research shows that organizations that have a healthy ratio of women at senior leadership positions have a higher rate of return on equity than the ones driven by only men. Companies have started to wake up to the reality that high potential and talented women can contribute just as much, or even better than their male counterparts in the organization. This to some extent, has resulted in an increased emphasis on gender diversity at the work place. However, the unfortunate part is that, in a majority of organizations, gender diversity initiatives are still viewed as a mere tick mark activity. These organizations are focusing on the short-term goal of meeting the mandatory quota of women employees in Leadership roles, set by the Government of India. What they are lacking, is a more holistic perspective, which is crucial to bringing about real change.Once a woman is hired, what does the organization do, to ensure she is made to feel included? Are there effective policies and guidelines? Is the culture and environment conducive to gender inclusion? Are there reliable and effective support systems that she can depend on? The existing cultural barriers (both regional and within the organization) will not automatically disappear overnight. The organization needs to make a strong commitment and put in consistent effort to make this change. Women employees must be constantly and systematically nurtured so that they grow to become leaders and can perform at their optimum potential without any organizational barriers. If we look around, examples of companies which have gotten this formula right, are still few and far between.4 things organizations can do to get this formula right:We at Pink Ladder believe there are 4 ways in which organizations can take the right steps towards this direction.Make the right first impression: The first step starts at the talent acquisition phase. Right from the job description which highlights how inclusive the workplace is for women, to videos of women employees enjoying working in the organization, to women representation in the interview panel, all of which, will attract women employees. Additionally, while conducting tours of the facility to prospective women employees, companies should showcase facilities that resonate well with women, rather than the typical pool table, café lounge among others. All these go a long way in creating the right first impressions of being a gender inclusive workplace.Build a team of women ambassadors: You may have a goal of hiring more women representation in technology, sales etc. but if you start looking through a rigid and narrow quota as part of your recruitment process, you will hit a roadblock. The fact of the matter is, women bring in more women. Once you hire more women in traditional work areas, create the right environment and policies, these women will themselves help you source and hire women for other niche roles you may have.Salary parity and progression: Another key area where most companies lag is in offering salary parity to women employees and having a progression system which recognizes individuals for their performance irrespective of their gender. Companies can formulate a board with representation from both male and women senior leaders along with neutral third-party consultants who can help companies define the right salary structures and progression mechanisms for the same. Periodic audit of this system and process by these consultants can be mandated to ensure that this is followed systematically across various levels of the organization/job roles. Some of the areas that this board can look into are:
  • Ensuring that salary differences are addressed, and parity is maintained on an on-going basis
  • Weeding out unconscious gender bias in the way employees are rewarded for their efforts.
  • Criteria for promotions should be clearly defined at all levels of the organization.
  • A clear set of measurable goals to be set and agreed before the start of the financial year.
  • Periodical reviews which will help address any challenges that an employee might be facing and enable her to meet her goals.
Holistic Support Systems: One key element in this entire approach is the role of holistic support systems that can nurture these women employees by helping them build on their strengths while also identifying core challenges and behavioral patterns that are holding them back from performing at their optimum. Typical internal mentoring or training programs may not meet their specific requirements, nor does a one-size-fits-all approach work as effectively. Pink Ladder research shows that over 80% women believe training and mentoring support, currently offered isn’t customized to meet their core requirements nor is it secure (in terms of privacy and neutrality) for them to share their issues openly, thereby limiting them in their ability to utilize these support systems in the best possible manner. An able partner who can bring in a holistic approach to address these issues can help companies move a long way in their gender diversity journeyThe question is not if, but when should organizations start their journey towards this end goal of being a gender inclusive work place. The ones which do this with total commitment are the ones who will be the leaders in tomorrow’s best places to work!
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Over 52% women professionals aspire to become CXOs whereas currently we have only 9.5% in India
Bangalore, February 1, 2018: Pink Ladder- India’s first comprehensive career enhancement ecosystem for women professionals released the findings of “Confidence Index of Women Professionals in India”. This one of its kind research was carried out across 200 women professionals and qualitative inputs from HR and Diversity leads from leading organizations. Women professionals from Bangalore, Mumbai & Delhi took part in this survey. These were women with over 10 years of work experience, working in 73 companies across industries like IT, Consulting, BFSI, Telecom and Media. Some of the key findings include:
  • Overall 52% women professionals aspire to become CXOs whereas currently we have only 9.5% as CXOs in organizations
  • 50% of women are unaware of skills, competencies, experience necessary to become CXOs
  • Close to 60% of women didn’t have a clear strategy for their career trajectory
  • Over 55% women feel their work speaks for itself & among those that do negotiate, 64% feel that they are perceived as too pushy
  • Executive Presence: Close to 60% have moderate to low comfort levels in showcasing their achievements within the org. 43% have low to moderate comfort levels in showcasing their achievements externally. 45% have moderate to low comfort levels in their ability to dress for the role
  • The top 5 factors holding women back are: Being overlooked for projects (74%), getting constantly interrupted (74%), inability to negotiate (64%), their work getting appropriated by others (71%) and a negative work-life balance (57%)
“What cannot be measured, cannot be improved! Understanding what is really holding women back is of utmost importance if organizations have to succeed in building a sustained pool of women leaders. Through this one of its kind study we aim to quantify the confidence levels of women professionals in India and what is holding them back from reaching the C-suite. We believe this will be a good starting point for D&I leaders in their journeys” said Karthik Nagendra - Co-Founder, Pink Ladder.The report was released around a panel discussion titled “The Real Change: What gender diversity needs”. The panel discussion included high profile speakers such as Giridhar GV- Global Talent Leader, EY Global Shared Services, Vani Seshadri- VP, Global Inclusion & Diversity, Accenture, Kalpana Veeraraghavan- Diversity leaders, IMEA, IBM, Revathi Kant- Chief Design Officer, Titan & Jessie Paul- CEO, Paul Writers. The event was attended by HR, Diversity & L&D leaders from JC Penny, Lowes, Flipkart, Essilor among others.Speaking at the event Giridhar GV, Global Talent Leader, EY Global Shared Services said, “As leaders, it is imperative that we commit to fully bridge the gender gap in the workplace and consciously build an eco-system within our organizations where women can thrive succeed and achieve their fullest potential.”“We at Pink Ladder believe there is a need for a comprehensive career enhancement ecosystem for women professionals. This can be only achieved by working closely with organizations and individuals to formulate goals, identify challenges and develop strategies aimed at creating and sustaining a growing talent pool of women Leaders. We are planning many more such interesting research in the coming months” said Soujanya Viswanath, Co-Founder, Pink Ladder. For additional information, please contact Karthik Nagendra on 9945276596.

About Pink Ladder:

360 DEGREE CAREER ENHANCEMENT ECOSYSTEM FOR WOMEN PROFESSIONALS

Pink Ladder is India’s first comprehensive career enhancement ecosystem for women professionals. We work closely with both organizations and individuals to formulate goals, identify challenges and develop strategies aimed at creating and sustaining a growing talent pool of women Leaders. Our holistic approach – from addressing organizational culture, policies, mindsets to working with each woman in enhancing her strengths and letting go of her limiting behavioral traits, thereby empowering her to be a better and more effective leader in her organization
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3 ways for women to have it all!
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.[1] 48% Indian women drop out of careers due to this double burden! [2] 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. [3] 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. [4] 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.[5]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:
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
 
  1. 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 balanceWith all this on offer and more to come, can women have it all? Yes, of course they can! [1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-206381/Working-women-housework.html[2] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/work/48-percent-Indian-women-drop-out-mid-career/articleshow/49880485.cms[3] https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/03/08/work-life-balance-a-challenge-for-indian-women/[4] http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/et-cetera/indian-women-most-stressed-in-the-world-nielsen-survey/articleshow/9031890.cms[5] https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/03/08/work-life-balance-a-challenge-for-indian-women/
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5 ways to increase women representation at CXO level

"A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. This "voice" is your best tool in the board room, when talking to investors, when finding partners and when pitching to clients. Once you find your voice, hone it and practice.” Says Melinda Gates. This is the need of the hour for working women if one has to address the gender diversity ratio that is abysmally low at senior leadership roles in India. According to a recent Grant Thornton survey only 7 percent of the senior management (CEO/ Managing Director) roles are held by women in India.[1]Another survey by TimesJobs says that just 5 per cent organizations expect a rise in women leaders in CXO positions.[2]

Policies that were developed keeping a male workforce in mind, a societal mindset of considering men as sole bread winners and women as the care takers, considering women to be more emotional and not suited to take up leadership roles have all resulted in women not being considered for CXO positions. However forward thinking organizations which have proactively looked at putting women in key leadership roles have a different story to say. According to Sasha Sanyal Senior Vice President Strategy, Diversity & Inclusion Leader, Genpact “Companies with the highest number of women board directors and senior management teams outperformed those with the least on several counts like higher returns on sales as well as innovation, group effectiveness in solving problems,”[1]InfactIndia could add 60% to its 2025 GDP by increasing women in senior leadership roles at organizations.[2]

“Though policy and societal mindsets play a key deterrent for women, their own behavioral patterns to counter these challenges and a lack of a structured and holistic support system too have a key role in not creating a larger pool of leadership material women.[¹]

Could policy and societal mindsets be the only factors holding women back or are there any other that one is overlooking? To answer this question, Pink Ladder conducted an in-depth research of women in senior manager roles which threw up some interesting insights. Though policy and societal mindsets play a key deterrent for women, their own behavioral patterns to counter these challenges .

So how could forward thinking organizations and aspiring women turn the tide to have more women leaders in CXO roles? Agreed, policy changes and societal mindset changes are beginning to happen but will take a long time before they start making a real impact. In the meantime, do these women who have already leaned in have the luxury of time to wait for these changes to unfold or should they address issues that are here and now, which are in their control. We believe the following measures can be the first steps towards that:

  • Awareness workshops specially designed for women that can make them strong from within, enable them to understand their strengths to build upon and challenges that need intervention
  • A holistic support system to address various triggers that are contributing to the bigger challenge each woman is facing rather than a one size fits all approach
  • A neutral environment that offers an opportunity for women to share their gaps, fears, challenges without holding themselves back and seek the right approaches to navigate these challenges
  • Building a network of women who can be sponsors for other fellow women
  • Bringing more male champions for women into the system so that it can have a cascading effect both at the work front as well as back home

These are few measures which can help women up their game while offering an opportunity to forward thinking organizations to create a larger pool of potential women leaders. We at Pink Ladder are committed to partner with such forward thinking organizations, work closely with aspiring women thereby makinga difference to the universe- one woman at a time.

As Hollywood actress Tina Fey rightly said, “Women are not in competition with other women. Women are in competition with everyone.” The time to turn the tide over is here, the time Is now!

[¹] Pink Ladder qualitative

a structured and holistic support system too have a key role in not creating a larger pool of leadership material women.[¹]

[1] Pink Ladder qualitative research of over 50 women in key metros, across industries

[1]http://www.grantthornton.in/press/press-releases-2017/india-ranks-third-lowest-in-having-women-in-leadership-roles-for-the-third-consecutive-year/

[1]http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/India-Inc-faces-skewed-gender-representation-at-CXO-level/articleshow/54672955.cms

[1]http://skilloutlook.com/top-news/gender-diversity-challenge-5-employers-india-see-rise-women-cxos-timesjobs-study

[1]http://www.livemint.com/Politics/vGSjSt72LCVC6sRYezfFxM/India-could-add-60-to-2025-GDP-by-bridging-gender-gap-at-wo.html

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