Why do women not progress as quickly in an organisation? The last article said it isn’t because they behave differently. The same article talked of a few other reasons, one being that women drop out of work to raise their children.
In India, it is still acceptable to expect employees to stay late or work at weekends, this applies to women as well. While women know why they can’t stay late, it doesn’t stop them feeling guilty about not being there with the team, this in addition to the ever-present guilt about leaving children at day-care or home while at work. This brings to mind a question. Why do only women feel responsible for work in homes, surely men should be similarly responsible?
The recent focus on women in business may have been detrimental, people talk of ‘playing the woman card’. This can be demeaning and demoralising. Comments such as these, sometimes made in jest, cause women to want to remain ‘invisible’ at work. This desire for invisibility makes them reluctant to talk of real problems which may, if raised, have simple solutions. Many feel invisibility is good for the team!
To further the discussion on what businesses can do to remove barriers women face, I refer to another article from HBR, https://hbrascend.org/topics/why-women-stay-out-of-the-spotlight-at-work/. Here are some excerpts:
“Organisations can take three steps to make it easier for women to be seen and promoted: value unconventional forms of leadership, fight implicit bias, and balance women’s second-shift responsibilities".
First, most organisations value leaders who stand at the front of the room and take credit. … By valuing leadership attributes that women apply more often than men — like being inspirational and inviting participatory decision-making — organisations can elevate women without pushing them to adapt their behaviours to masculine norms. This reorientation … could also benefit organisations.
Second, organisations could counteract the implicit biases that end up penalising women who are assertive and self-promoting. … By changing workplace culture to align behaviours, systems, and processes with gender egalitarian values, organisations can minimise the risk women who step into the spotlight face.
Third, organisations need to recognise that women continue to work an unpaid second shift at home. Workplace policies that ease family demands, … Organisations can additionally help change the expectation that women bear primary responsibility for the household by including men in policies like family leave and flex-time. Women continue to make extraordinary sacrifices for a shot at “having it all.” Creating organisational cultures and policies that recognise these sacrifices is crucial.
While it’s easy to urge women to step into the spotlight, doing so without considering visibility’s risks to women is shortsighted. So is treating the problem of visibility as something for women to fix themselves. To achieve workplace equality, we need to redesign organisations — not the women who work in them.”
What does this guidance tell us?
We should talk about the advantages of having more women in our workplace so that teams start appreciating their contribution, the result of a different way of thinking and doing things; ensuring that teams work with women rather than despite them.
Managing our women colleagues by responding to the time pressures on a person holding two jobs will help them achieve their potential. Often it is not easy to understand why a high-visibility behaviour makes them uncomfortable, instead of fighting it, understanding it and adjusting to it will help too.
Members of teams can help by understanding the social context, the different mind-sets and the resulting behaviours, then moderate the expectations of time and visibility expected from them.
The first lecture of the programme “Women in Business” organised by UCCI in collaboration with IIMU was held on Friday, 8 November 2019. The lecturer, Vasanthi Srinivasan (IIMB) addressed the group, who, inspired by her thoughts have taken on the responsibility to enable one other through collaboration.
The objective for the programme:
The programme aims to transform the roles played by women participating when working in family businesses. It will help participants enhance skills, capabilities, and most importantly adaptability of the individual to deliver business growth and sustainability. It will enable women to:
take strategic roles in family businesses, develop leadership capabilities for larger and meaningful roles.
Nandita has worked at Secure from 2006, she has been involved with the company since its inception. This helicopter view of the business helped drive Secure’s strategy. Her values based approach has strengthened Secure’s brand in all our territories and propagated a culture that we can all be proud of. Nandita led the corporate communication group at Secure and spearheaded the employee engagement programmes as well as starting our volunteering programmes. She is a member of Secure’s board of directors and Council of Advisors. She continues to work with the team at Secure, steering development from a design, usability and communications perspective.