Guest Column: Should Women in the Workplace Stand Out or Fall in Line? asks Kranti Gada
The question for women becomes multi-faceted. Do we strive for a level playing field or simply fair play? The goal is how to best utilize the skill sets that women bring to the table
Many organizations have engaged in discussions about gender diversity and women in the workplace, but many still struggle to understand the concepts and what it means for individuals, the workplace and the future.
Dialogues have been initiated but only small steps have been taken towards finding any solutions or real change. While higher level efforts to transform policies and build support systems continue, it's also important to work at subtler levels, an area in which women excel. The workplace is dominated by men, with mores and standards that have been set and established by men, based on activities that men are traditionally seen as being better at. Even the definition of success is viewed within the context of a male-dominated workplace.
Inside and outside of the workplace, many men and women are confused and in conflict about issues ranging from what constitutes an effective and acceptable work style, if emotions in the workplace are acceptable and what a suitable formula for success is. The question for women becomes multi-faceted. Do we strive for a level playing field or simply fair play? The goal is how to best utilize the skill sets that women bring to the table.
As a starting point, we as women need to understand our intrinsic strengths and how we can best utilize them to make a mark in the workplace. We're already at the helm of the most important socio-economic unit - the family! Here, we control chaos, handle crisis and steer several meandering lives into one sensible story.
There's nothing that stops us from leveraging the very abilities we use on a daily basis to stand out in the workplace. It's up to us to decide whether we will ape the masculine or underline the feminine.
Some of the qualities that come naturally to women and could make a significant difference in the workplace quickly come to mind.
It's the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, understand a situation from another's viewpoint and invest in someone else's emotions. At work, can we solve issues by understanding the problem from everyone's point of view and create a win-win for all involved while maintaining a fine balance of everyone's interests?
It may seem impossible but this is the only way to create a long-term solution to any problem and it can't be done without empathy. It demonstrates respect for others, which engenders loyalty. It's a skill that improves morale, increases productivity and builds stronger teams. It's closely related to intuition.
Empathy comes easily to women. Their softer approach, ability to decipher the unsaid and willingness to work harder for a fairer solution helps them transcend empathy from thoughts and words into tangible solutions. They're accustomed to navigating through intense emotions at home, making them well-poised to deal with the complex and often hidden emotions within the workplace.
Growth is imperative in every aspect of the workplace. Employees want salaries to grow, managers want teams to grow, the CEO wants the top line to grow and shareholders want the bottom line to grow. In the current VUCA environment, stagnancy means certain death.
Growth is directly proportionate to the investment in human capital and can't be restricted to the HR department. It has to be on the agenda for every leader and manager.
Women have the ability and an inherent urge or need to nurture. It's an instinct developed through centuries of conditioning in that role and it's an asset in the workplace. Women are able to create a feeling of appreciation, security, warmth and acceptance. It allows their teams to achieve their full potential which propels them forward to the next level of accomplishment.
Women can keep several balls rolling simultaneously. They can be cooking, solving the kid's mind-boggling math homework, managing the in-laws, talking to the phone with a friend and planning a party and catching up on their favourite show on television, all at the same time, without missing a beat! They are able to break-down tasks in such a way that unrelated projects can work in tandem. In fact, this is the singular skill in which they leave the opposite gender miles behind, almost across the board.
Women manage home staff, in-laws, children, tuition teachers, extended family and neighbours. They are able to connect and communicate across a range of intellect, education and social outlooks. They uninhibitedly integrate emotions, expressions and gestures in speech and have a higher capacity to listen with empathy. It's a skill that's extremely beneficial when working with a myriad of personality types within the workplace and strategic when impressing upon others the acceptable principles, ethics, standards and behaviours of a company or organization.
Now that I look at the list above, it strikes me that some of these qualities are extremely crucial for success in today's disruptive times. In fact, these are the new age skills!
Girls, its time you get up and smell the coffee and let the world know your worth!
Kranti Gada is the Senior VP at Shemaroo Entertainment.
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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