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, different mind-sets and resulting behaviour, then moderate the expectations of time and visibility expected from them.
A study and mentoring based program for women in business is being organised by UCCI in collaboration with IIMU.
The program 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.
Business professionals, owners, aspiring leaders (from small, medium and large businesses). The 2019-20 program will have a special focus on women in business and will include:
- women who wish to contribute, and enhance their role within their family businesses
- women who intend to start contributing to their family business
- women entrepreneurs and professionals
To ensure that we have a group of serious participants in the program, we request everyone who is interested in joining to submit a write-up on what they want to achieve from this program. The write up should be submitted by the end of day, Monday, 9 September 2019. It can be sent by e-mail to email@example.com.
Writing about an ongoing challenge in business that the participant would like addressed during the program, would increase the chances of selection.
The program will have a maximum of 30 participants who will be selected from those who apply based on their write up and problem definition.
Please visit UCCI’s website for more details: