Conference Notes : Leadership for Sustainable Success : Dare to Care

INAUGURAL SPEAKER: DEEPAK HOTA (Chairman, BEML)

  • Success should be defined on your own terms. Aping someone else’s definition of success will only get you half way to your destination.
  • Instead of being pessimistic and indulging in collective despair about gender parity, corporations, leaders and individuals should strive to actually make a difference and expand the pool of women leaders.
  • Organizations should weave in a purpose that is beyond profits and that caters to the common good, including empowering women, contributing to environment etc.

KEY NOTE SPEAKER: AMBASSADOR MELANNE VERVEER (Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Ambassador-at-large of Global Women’s Issues, Author, Professor, ex-Chief of Staff to Hilary Clinton)

Credits TalentNomics founders – Neeti Banerjee and Ipsita Kathuria for setting the right leadership examples with their commitment to paying forward their experiences.

  • Reimaging leadership, redefining success and closing gender gaps in economic and political participation to accelerate global progress are key.
  • Gender equality is not just a moral imperative but also, smart and strategic economics.
  • Utilize your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something larger than self.
  • Be the change you want to see and dare to care.

GUEST OF HONOR: HONORABLE MINISTER H.K. PATIL (Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Govt of Karnataka)

  • Remarkable contributions have been made by women leaders at grassroot levels.
  • Women leaders engage in and address socially critical issues better. Wherever women are heading the Gram Panchayats, social conditions have improved much better compared to the ones headed by men. Data in Karnataka clearly reveals this.
  • Larger participation of women in the highest levels of the political framework would push forward the envelope of efficient leadership as a whole.

SESSION 1: THE BLACKHOLE OF TALENT: TAPPING THE UNTAPPED

Panelists:

Ram K Mudholkar(Co-founder of Global BioAg Linkages, Ex-President, DuPontSouthAsia),  Farzana Chowdhury (Managing Director and CEO of Green Delta Insurance Company Limited, Bangladesh), Uma Reddy(Managing Director, HiTech Magnetics & Electronics PvtLtd, Founder President,eMERG-Engineering Manufacturer Entrepreneurs Resource Group), Jose Antonio Hoyos Castañeda (Project Coordinator, Vicente Ferrer Foundation-RDT)

Moderator: Anita George (Executive VP, Growth Markets, CDPQ, former Sr. Dir, World Bank)

Three-fourths of the success factors for any successful business is finding the right talent. That explains the importance of unearthing, developing, retaining and investing in the talent pool. When corporations play into gender bias, the potential of half the talent pool is ignored.

Leaders need to:

  • Take the responsibility to change the leadership landscape by developing women talent in ways that are sustainable and empowering.
  • Build in the goal of diversity and inclusivity and then sensitize the team at all levels – Bring the team in sync with the drivers behind your goal.
  • “Walk the talk” consistently to drive towards gender parity
  • Commit to recruit and retain women professionals, and hence restructure workspaces to create an enabling ecosystem where women can thrive.
  • Encourage, support and push women to get out their comfort zones. Often women in business reach a point of complacency with their professional life – a point where they believe they are juggling social, personal and professional lives well enough. Help push women out of their complacency and encourage them to scale up.
  • Enable women to walk into decision making roles. Examples are best set at the top. Monitor the policies enforced for women’s participation to see how they are being received at all levels.
  • Talent is not a question of creating…it is a question of discovering” – José Antonio (Project Coordinator, Vicente Ferrer Foundation-RDT)

SESSION 2: SUCCESS IS BEYOND NUMBERS: LEAD WITH PURPOSE (CASE STUDIES)

Panelists:

Eva Lorge (Country Leadership Development Leader, Ikea), Asha Gupta (President, Asia Pacific, Tupperware)

Moderator: Lathika Pai (Managing Partner Tekinroads Consulting LLP)

While organizations and corporations often dwell on profits, profits alone are never enough of a reason for a company to survive for decades. For sustainable success, there has to be a purpose beyond profits.

IKEA:

  • Started by a man who dreamt of every household having easy access to affordable furniture.
  • IKEA believes that it takes people to build the dream and that every person working for IKEA must grow for the business as a whole to grow.
  • IKEA has equal representation of men and women in its workforce and believes in running the business for a purpose – a social engine to drive the economic engine.
  • IKEA makes room for a development plan for each of its employees who are about to take a maternity/paternity leave – they are encouraged to talk about their work profile and develop it to suit their position, upon returning.

TUPPERWARE:

  • Started five decades ago by a home maker who threw dinner parties for women to market her products.
  • Tupperware has an all-women global sales force of 3.2 million and believes in being a company wrapped around a purpose
  • Emphasizes on the importance of cultivating confidence in women so that they can leverage their potential fully. Confidence disempowers failures and impacts performance.
  • Tupperware aims at breaking the barriers of low working capital for the middle-class women by making available micro-finance options for start-ups.
  • It believes in breaking socio-cultural barriers by inspiring women with role models and empowering them with meaningful relationships and support systems.
  • The objective is to create as many independent women as possible. Tupperware supports every movement that not only enables women to dream but also makes them strong, fierce and self-reliant.
  • Asha Gupta (President, Asia Pacific, Tupperware): “We are not a company with purpose, we are a purpose with company!”

SESSION 3: BUILDING THE TALENT PIPELINE: EMPOWERMENT IS MORE THAN EDUCATION

Panelists:

Ajit George (Director, Shanti Bhavan), Reema Nanavaty (Director, Self-Employed Women’s Association of India SEWA)

Moderator: Vijayalakshmi Rao (Mentor/Advisor (ANEW, EWIT))

Societies often think there is a glass barrier for the poor – they have lower expectation, lower opinions and lower beliefs of where the poor can go and what they can achieve.

  • Reema Nanavaty (Director Self-Employed Women’s Association of India SEWA): “Poverty is also a form of violence with the consent of the society”! Empowerment is key, and empowerment is more than education
  • SEWA believes in empowering women with life skills. Most women and men who are caught up in cycles of poverty, aspire to empower themselves with financial stability and do not necessarily seek education as a means to achieve it.
  • Women who are economically secured, are often better equipped to deal with social issues and overcome vulnerabilities.
  • Shantibhavan, on the other hand, on the base level is an education program, on a mid-level is a poverty alleviation program and on the most ambitious level, is a social restructuring and levelling program.
  • Students are armed to be changemakers for their families with the power to be changemakers for the society. They take forward the goal of empowering the poorest, by paying forward with their opportunities.
  • Being born in a poor family is not anyone’s choice but you can step out and rise from it, that’s a choice.

SESSION 4: UN-STEREOTYPING MINDSETS AND EMPOWERING OUR GIRLS

Panelists: Parveen Mahmud (MD, Grameen Telecom Trust, Bangladesh), Zareen Mahmud Hosien (Founder, ED, HerStory Foundation), Prashant Sankaran (Director Interweave & Mentor), Krshna Prashant (Brand and Campaigns Associate, Uber), Nikita Singla (Consultant, The World Bank Group)

Moderator: Neeti Banerjee (Founder & CEO, TalentNomics Inc.)

  • Children pick up quick. That enforces the need to break stereotypes at home first and ingrain in them that roles are not assigned by gender.
  • Invest in quality time with children instead of focusing on the quantity of time.
  • Have gender roles swapped at home and share the parenting responsibility by seamlessly stepping in for each other. Successful careers and marriages require a lot of communication and coordination to ensure the home and work are balanced.
  • Inspiration is always first drawn from within home. Empower children with the right role models and set the right examples. Children learn by example. If you don’t practice what you preach, it won’t make a difference. Equity comes from home
  • Empower children to take up independent decisions. Cultivate in them, the sense of responsibility and equality.
  • Make your girls understand that financial independence is overhyped for boys and underhyped for girls but it is equally important for women.
  • Giving freedom to make a choice to your daughters doesn’t mean that family values are hampered

SESSION 5: RE-IMAGINING LEADERSHIP: MENTORING. INSPIRING. EMPOWERING

Panelists: Ipsita Kathuria (Founder and CEO, TalentNomics India),

Neeti Banerjee (Founder and CEO, TalentNomics Inc.)

Business and corporations with female leaders, as research shows it, have a competitive advantage – companies with 3 women directors are much more successful with 66% better returns on invested capital and 53% better return on equity. Yet only few women ever reach board positions and never does a women CEO get replaced by another woman.

Data says it is going to take 217 years for us to cover the gender gap. The situation in India is much more frightening. Only 26% women join the workforce as opposed to the global average of 53%. But there are significant opportunities if we start working now.” – Ipsita Kathuria (Founder and CEO, TalentNomics India )

There still exists a large gender gap in workforce participation at the entry level. The funnel needs to be broadened to leverage the pool of potential talent that is being ignored. From there, we need to come together to build a pipeline of women leaders for tomorrow.

Since its inception in 2015, TalentNomics has been working on reimagining women leadership. Through its leadership learning program: CruciBOLD and 6 conferences (3 in the United States and 3 in India), TalentNomics has reached out to over 30 organizations and 1000 leaders/potential leaders, all of whom have engaged themselves with us, in addressing the global concern of leaking pipeline of women leadership.

CruciBOLD India was launched in September 2017. It’s a cohort of 19 senior women from organizations like CLP India Power Limited, Dr Lal Path Labs, YES Bank, WNS Global Services, WIPRO, Tata Steel, Vahura, InfoEdge India Limited, IL&FS Financial Services, TVS Logistics Service Ltd. and GSK. They meet at regular intervals over the year to discuss key challenges for women leaders and innovative strategies and solutions. Each of the sessions focuses on key leadership topics and is facilitated by business leaders, academic experts, executive coaches/trainers or subject matter experts. In addition, 10 hours of mentoring is provided to each participant by a senior global leader, woman or man, from another organization and culture. In the course of the year, participants are also trained as mentors for CruciBOLD Ripple.

TABLE DISCUSSIONS:

TOPIC 1: HOW DO WE CREATE A STRONGER PIPELINE OF WOMEN LEADERS?
Table Coordinator: Ritvik Lukose(CEO, Vahura)

TOPIC 2: HOW DO WE ENGAGE MILLENNIALS BETTER TO LEVERAGE POTENTIAL
Table Coordinator: Nikita Singla (Consultant, The World Bank Group)

TOPIC 3: WHAT ACTIONS CAN BE TAKEN TO LEVERAGE TALENT AT THE GRASSROOT LEVEL
Table Coordinator: Sashwat Brahma (Organic Farmer, former Head, Risk Reporting, Standard Chartered Bank)

TOPIC 4: HOW TO EXPAND THE POOL OF WOMEN ENTREPRENUERS
Table Coordinator: Juhee Sinha (Founder, Younique)

TOPIC 1: HOW DO WE CREATE A STRONGER PIPELINE OF WOMEN LEADERS?

Table Coordinator: Ritvik Lukose(CEO, Vahura)

The discussion on the first 3 tables focused on creating a stronger pipeline of women leaders.

Key solutions were:

  • Providing similar opportunities to both genders at home.
  • Helping and encouraging women to push barriers and boundaries by building in a support system.
  • Consciously giving them role models who defy gender stereotypes, so that they draw inspiration from the right sources.
  • Speak up and generate awareness on the potential of women talent.
  • Help generate the market for women in business
  • Enable women to thrive by restructuring the social fabric, by advocating for policies in organizations and by integrating more flexibility in workspaces.

TOPIC 2: HOW DO WE ENGAGE MILLENNIALS BETTER TO LEVERAGE POTENTIAL

Table Coordinator: Nikita Singla (Consultant, The World Bank Group)

Millennials seem to be more and more disconnected with their work. That’s often because they are not in sync with their organizations’ belief and purpose.

Key solutions:

  • Assign them with work profiles that they enjoy. Facilitate a two-way communication between higher-level management and millennials at workspace to address their aspirations.
  • Unlearn the older conventional norms of workspaces. Allow more flexibility and focus more on the output they yield instead of the manner in which they reach there.
  • Organizations should trust millennials more with responsibilities.
  • Millennials are generally highly compatible with modern age technologies and can bring a lot to the table. Open a platform for them to pitch in innovative ideas for the organization and leverage on their fresher perspectives.
  • Involve them in the decision-making process of the organization.

TOPIC 3: WHAT ACTIONS CAN BE TAKEN TO LEVERAGE TALENT AT THE GRASSROOT LEVEL

Table Coordinator: Sashwat Brahma (Organic Farmer, former Head, Risk Reporting, Standard Chartered Bank)

Key solutions –

  • Empowering women with education and endorsing safety.
  • Creating more partnerships at the organizational level that help leverage the pool of talent by generating opportunities.
  • Develop and offer innovative “Rejoining Schemes” for women who want to return to work after sabbaticals.
  • Mentoring them to become confident leaders and helping them pick up management skills.

TOPIC 4: HOW TO EXPAND THE POOL OF WOMEN ENTREPRENUERS

Table Coordinator: Juhee Sinha (Founder, Younique)

  • Children often skip on recognizing entrepreneurship as a career option – Changing the norms at home like empowering children to make independent decisions, allowing them to invest in communication skills and encouraging them to accept failures as an integral part of any journey will help add more to the pool of women entrepreneurs.
  • Organizations can employ CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility- a business approach and management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders) for women.
  • Online mentoring will also empower women entrepreneurs with better information on finances, credits and management.
  • Investors often fail to address the needs of their audience. Systems parallel to SEWA Banks can be scaled up to cater to needs of entrepreneurs at a grassroot level. Financial literacy and access to financial services must go hand in hand.

TAKEAWAYS AND COMMITMENTS:

Facilitators: Ram K Mudholkar (Co-founder of Global BioAg Linkages, Ex-President, DuPont South Asia), Neeta Boochra (Ex-National President, FICCI Ladies Organization), Neeru Abrol (Sr. Advisor,IL& FS Environment, Ex CMD, National Fertilizer Limited, TalentNomics India Board Member)

  • “Have been inspired to be an imaginative leader and to continue working for women with a renewed passion and perseverance.” -Neeta Boochra

  • “Walk the talk to make changes possible. Actively support women to grow to and hold leadership roles.” -Ram K Mudholkar

  • “Grab challenges and translate them into opportunities to help women break the glass ceiling.” -Neeru Abrol

  • “Speak up for oneself and initiate that conversation with families and peers.” -RDT students

  • “Women all around, collectively face the same obstacles and all we need is collective determination and perseverance to reach solutions.” -Women from SEWA

Other participants committed to bring about the change by starting out from within their homes and organizations.