Women are half of the human race and are active participants and contributors to the development of the world. But are they getting what they deserve?
A conventional story of an ambitious woman at work is often framed on these lines: Woman collaborates with an organization with big dreams. She advances alongside men colleagues. Yet on her stride towards the top, she hits an invisible barrier. It is not a “glass ceiling” but a “major block” in the pipeline.
Is the story conceivable? The austerity of the story can be backed up by statistics. Women start as 43% of tertiary-level graduates. Yet, they constitute only 28% of entry-level professionals. A few years down the line, there are only 16% in the middle management level and just 4% in the senior leadership roles.
The thought of “Bread-earning man” and “house-keeping woman” is altering, and women at the workplace are walking as fast as their legs can carry them. But their great career stride is often slow or even stalled. This could be due to various reasons – from self-doubt to family pressure, to societal norms. How to deal with this conundrum?
Despite the strong will of women to lean in, society and workplaces should take the lead to lean in too. Here is how we can forge a better, safer and happier world for women:
- At an individual level: Raise girls who are self-aware and confident. Commend them for their grit and resilience. Encourage their individuality and be a scaffold for their personality. Impart a tenacious can-do attitude along with a positive self-image. A girl with such characteristics can be an influential individual in the workplace.
- At family level: Families are the compass that guide and the inspiration to reach greater heights. They play a significant role in raising a child. For the same reason, families should evaluate their conditioning, stereotyping and beliefs that can influence the raising girls in the family. Pressuring the women to perform stereotypically feminine activities can portray gender disparity. This includes impeding from statements like “Girls can’t work late night”, “Women should take care of the house”. Instead, encourage women to chase their dreams.
- At the community level: A community can make or break women. The deep-rooted socio-cultural norms demand women to prioritize their families and constantly tear their conscience between two contradictory sets of expectations – ideal women and ideal workers. This can spawn incomprehensible problems. However, the community needs to bring in a shift of the monolithic thinking around gender roles. The community should focus on unlearning gender inequality, being the cheerleaders for the women workforces and take a step towards achieving progressive perception.
- At an organizational level: With the realization about gender equality and its importance at the workplace, organizations are working towards attaining gender diversity. But this hasn’t translated to meaningful progress yet. More women are falling off the labor grid. This equation is unlikely to change anytime soon unless the organizations take a holistic approach. Apart from flexible policies, office day-cares, and Maternity Benefits, there are a few other measures organizations can implement to embrace gender diversity and empower women.
- Redefine what work means: Result-based approach for defining the success of the employees.
- Recalibrate the work measurement factors: From subjective traditional evaluation method to objective performance analysis.
- Implement flexible performance model: Deliver work at their convenience at a broader framework.
Organizations, along with above-given measures, are taking other steps to build gender parity and sensitize both the genders towards the other. Mintly is one such organization. Mintly focuses on creating equal workplace opportunities to both the genders. On the way to uplift the gender equality, on this International Women’s Day, they are offering a 50% discount to the premium clients who are hiring women. (More strength to women power!)
Women have come a long way. From homemakers to CEOs, from kitchens to corporate offices, the expedition was onerous for them. But the journey is not over yet. There is still a protracted path. To ease their course, let us all pledge to reset the paradigm at the workplace and the society, and create a jubilant and safe work environment for them.