Article (October-2018)


Gender diversity- Essentially a corporate responsibility?

Mohua Sengupta

Designation : -   EVP & Global Head

Organization : -  IT Services, 3i Infotech, Bengaluru


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Woman's Day celebrations, Gender Diversity Workshops, Requirement to bring a certain ratio between men and women in the workforce are imperatives in all corporations today. Most corporations have embraced some or all of these and some of them even more. Some of the larger MNCs have full-fledged departments focusing on these issues. But is this enough? Are we getting the expected results from these activities? Do we think we have proper diversity in the corporate world? And why just the corporate world? Government, politics, research anywhere for that matter, except in places where the roles are considered better suited for women, like school teachers, nurses etc.
I am sure the response will be a unanimous and emphatic 'no'. But why? Why in spite of years of gender diversity policies? We hear various complaints, like corporates are not doing enough; corporates are taking actions just to tick off check-boxes; corporates do try to hire equally at the base level, but then women don't grow fast enough; there are biases against women which hinders their growth etc. Some corporates even tried running a mentorship program for  women, less with the motive of mentoring, and more to ensure that the bosses are kept on check and no unfair bias can impact the appraisal of women. But still the challenge exists, and we still see huge gender diversity.
At the risk of sounding radical or contrarian, I think the onus of changing this lays with us, women. Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Corporations do not have a responsibility. They do. But whatever they do, it's not enough. It will never be, unless we take the ownership of changing it. We can't keep waiting for others to fix things that we want fixed. If we want to be leaders, we need to start behaving like one. We need to aspire to be a leader, we need to try and break the glass ceiling ourselves. If tomorrow our children need something, as mothers, would we keep waiting for someone else to make it happen? Or would we take up the ownership of making it happen? I am sure it's the latter. But, then why not in the corporate world? Why do we sit on the side-line and wait for someone else to make things smoother and easier for us? Why don't we aspire for more? Why do we always blame others, be the corporations, the male boss, the situation at home, and the list can be endless, to be the hindrance in our career growth? Whenever a woman fails to grow we point a finger at the corporation, its policies, its people practices and mostly the unfair boss. But let's be honest, if we really wanted to get something and worked hard for it, how many of us can honestly say that we have been shortchanged because we are women? I am sure there will be some examples, but there won't be a lot. Point is we don't aspire for more when it comes to our career. We assume that the plum roles will go to the male colleagues.
We complain that almost equal number of women joins the IT industry today but there are less than 10% women in the leadership level. We complain that when it goes to the senior levels, women get shortchanged. Let me flip things around for a minute. When it comes to choosing a leader, won't we choose someone who likes to take charge and make things happen? I am sure we all will. If so, isn't it a prerequisite that we show the ability to take charge, especially in matters that are important to us? I think that, and only that, can ultimately break the glass ceiling.
We need to start taking charge of things, especially matters that are important to us. That's what is expected from someone capable of being a leader. We need to aspire for a career and not just a job - that's when the glass ceiling will break. We need to give our career a real chance - that's when the glass ceiling will break. We need not be critical about ourselves or other women for aspiring to be a corporate leader - that's when the glass ceiling will break. Otherwise we will keep complaining about diversity policies taken up by the corporates. And the most unfortunate thing in this is that when we push for diversity policies, people see our success as a result of diversity agenda and not our superior credentials and capabilities! Ladies, it's time for us to take charge and aspire for more!