EMPOWER: How organizations can foster an environment of empowering women as employees?
Across geographies and demographics, it’s neither the product nor the process but the people who put forth organizations on the road to success. I have worked for a while now, spanning sectors like hospitality, aviation and real-estate, as a woman employee I’ve had this realization that unlike the posters on notice boards or the pink coasters, Empowering women in work-place isn’t only about recruiting, developing and retaining the female force but about that relentless strive to create supportive and motivating workplaces where talent can flourish irrespective of the gender.
One of the most ridiculous phrases that I’ve ever heard was for woman to ‘man up’. I may be one of the contrarians but the answer isn’t women “manning up” but how businesses value their employees. As women get promoted from cubicle to that corner office or its vicinity (which again is a rare scenario with only 14.6 percent of executive officer positions belonging to American women), it comes as no surprise that the workplace is restrained in extending a warm welcome to their female workers. The statistics for India Inc would be still appalling, consider this – despite being mandated by the new Companies Act, there is no significant representation of women in the board room. Furthermore, corporates are toying with this mandate by merely putting family women on board to indirectly influence their own presence in senior leadership. I am also of the view that women need to have confidence in knowing their value in the corporations; to not underplay their contribution or achievements. As Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, discusses in her book ‘Lean In’, women often underestimate their value and downplay their contributions during pay reviews, consequentially receiving lower pay increases than their male counterparts. Ultimately empowerment begins with self-belief, but it also means that you need to be communicating that to others. You not only need to be your own advocate but within the business you need others advocating for you too.
Kathryn Bolkovac, the USA cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia battled her colleagues in the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal. ‘Whistleblower’, the movie celebrates her hardships and ultimate triumph. What if UN (and other organizations) already had such an environment that made it easier for women to report such cases, to raise their voice against atrocities even in a war-torn region?
Think of Erin Brockovich, the beautiful and bold crusader of consumer rights. Erin entered the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant and, not surprising, won the title. However, it was Erin’s exhaustive investigation that uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. She thrives on being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell.
In our heart of hearts, we know that #EveryWomanIsALeader but collectively we need to foster a culture based on listening, sharing, inspiring, helping and learning that empowers women to live this knowledge. To not alone think or know but believe that they are the leaders.
Over to you, how do you think organizations can empower women? Share your views at- http://www.shethepeople.tv/leadership-contest/
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Feature Photo Credit: Dame Mag