The Woman’s Winning Touch
Guest Column: Anju Munjal, Senior Vice President, Usha International, discussed in detail how women leaders across organizations are adding feathers of success, and profitability
From homegrown businesses to corporates, startups and Fortune 500 companies to not-for-profit organizations, women are increasingly finding their space and voice in the boardrooms. Growing up the ladder, probably working harder than most men, women today are leading in every which way. Issues like gender equality, pay parity, trust deficit for funding, open discrimination that were earlier brushed under the carpet have become mainstream and gaining louder voices, leading to many of these being addressed as organizations realise the advantages of having women leaders. There is a lot of ground yet to be covered, however, women are forging ahead overcoming any and every roadblock, transforming mindsets and organizational culture and how! They are neither shaken nor stirred, so to speak, steadfast in finding their rightful place in every workplace in the world.
In fact, a 2020 report by a McKinsey & Company – Diversity Wins: How inclusion matters – finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014. If this doesn’t act as a clarion call for every business, every office, every workplace who want to succeed, they are bound to fall back in their path to success.
In recent years, India has seen a huge surge of successful women, women who are breaking into domains traditionally considered reserved for men – from leading Fortune500 companies, to start ups and corporate India. Women are breaking stereotypes about the ‘kind’ of work they ‘should’ be doing, or the roles they may play in an organization. They have made inroads into every domain – from software to space engineering, banking to auditing, aviation to technology, healthcare to education, and many more – you name it, and the women are there.
With all findings pointing to the fact that firms with gender diversity, particularly at senior levels, perform better, women in leadership have proven to bring about better business performance and improve outcomes. Top surveys also suggest that women, more frequently than men, exhibit leadership traits that are highly applicable to future global challenges.
So what are some of the salient advantages women bring to the table?
Enhance corporate reputation
Having women leaders is of utmost importance, signaling that gender parity is a key priority and ingraining in the corporate culture a sense of inclusivity pervasive across the organization for all levels and departments. Adopting equitable pay, fair and equal policies, taking action against any discrimination or disparity based on gender, and creating an enabling platform for women to perform to their best potential sets a positive example for the world to follow. It will also set the firm apart in the eyes of future female employees and the younger generation. Organizations such as these have the propensity to attract and retain the best talent available making it a mutually beneficial way to be.
Grow organizational culture
When women are in leadership roles in any organization, it reflects the organizational culture – underpinning the organization’s vision and commitment for an inclusive workplace. This is supported further when the organization inculcates a culture where everyone is equally heard and recognized. Corporates that ensure that they empower women with the right environment allowing them to challenge the status quo, is proving hugely beneficial for the organization in being future ready. Trainings and workshops across all levels on gender sensitivity, acceptable behavior all go a long way in sensitizing employees and creating a workplace that is amenable and amiable, cohesive and collaborative. Skill development must happen in a gender agnostic manner and young women showing promise must be fast-tracked to maximize their potential. Having women mentors will prove inspirational and inspire confidence in youngsters to shatter the glass ceiling.
Real-life Model and Inspiration for Younger Women
Raj Tulsiani, author of ‘Diversity and Inclusion for Leaders’, rightly said “Women and minorities need real models, not role models”. When young women see women in decision-making roles seated in the corner office, it serves as a huge inspiration to them. It reiterates their belief in the choices they have made to enter the corporate world, and strengthens their aspirations about scaling the same heights. In the current world scenario, it becomes all the more imperative for organizations to ensure adequate female representation in top echelons as women at senior levels of the organizational hierarchy definitely encourage others to follow suit. Today young girls are dreaming big with global women leaders as their icons and superstars that spur them to success.
Women are conditioned to multitask since a young age and this is a skill that stands them in great stead in the workplace. Women leaders, therefore, can keep track of various tasks at various stages of execution/completion without allowing anything to fall through the cracks. They are quick to adopt and adapt, changing leadership styles to suit the situation spurring in turn, individuals in an organization to adapt with agility, and even thrive in challenging environments. This acts as a win-win for all involved.
Women leaders are extremely hardy and emotionally resilient, having climbed the ranks by sheer dint of hard work. They hold the ability to center their core and stay grounded under pressure, and perform effectively in the face of adversity. Female leaders are often flexible in their leadership style, and can quickly shift gears and transform a challenge into an opportunity. They scurry no favour, they nurture, mentor and nudge their teams to grow, giving them a long rope but ensuring the cord doesn’t snag.
Empathy is extremely high on the global corporate list and whether people accept it or not, organizations that are evolved invest wisely in leaders that complement each other’s natural skillsets. Women, whether people accept it or not, are instinctively empathetic and typically better at making tough leadership decisions that require deeper insights. The ability to empathize with one’s team members and truly understand the interplay of personal and professional and its impact on productivity makes a leader effective and respected. All of these go a long way in bolstering employee confidence, growing efficiencies in the workplace, and creating a participative and congenial work environment.
No gender can be viewed in a silo in terms of business or management styles, and when people of different genders, race, sexuality, cultures come together, it spurs evolution and innovation. As women increasingly permeate every sphere of management, it is quite obvious that there is nothing they cannot do.
What women do is offer a different perspective, way of working and leadership, all of which only adds to productivity and growth resulting in growing the profitability of the organization. To put it succinctly, women leaders are agents of change, and whoever said the ‘future is female’ is without a doubt – spot on!
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com
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