Facilitated by Binoo Wadhwa, HR Consultant, Shilpa Bharadwaj, Executive Coach, Franz Henne, Senior Projects Officer, IMF
Topic 1 – What would leadership look like in the new world?
The discussion on the first three tables focused on the importance of mentors in this changing world. Leaders aren’t just born; they draw from their surroundings and evolve, and the guidance of mentors is crucial to help them learn how they can be bigger than the problem at hand.
- The environment has changed to become more complex, volatile, and unpredictable
- The leadership skills required have also changed, calling for more complex and adaptive thinking
- The methods to develop leaders haven’t changed much, with a continued reliance on conventional methods
- The majority of managers rise from on-the-job experience, training, and coaching/mentoring, all of which are still important, but leaders are not developing fast enough to meet the needs of the new environment
- This is no longer just a current leadership challenge but a pipeline challenge, in terms of how to grow leaders of tomorrow.
Topic 2 – Breaking the barriers collaboratively
These three tables focused on defining workplace barriers for women. Barriers do not exist in a vacuum, they draw on larger social and cultural attitudes, and deconstructing them can show possible paths to their removal. Equal opportunity for all is an essential requirement to move in this direction.
- Deconstruct the problems causing barriers – we need to understand ourselves before we can break barriers
- Collaboration is the need of the hour, both between and across genders, to break the barriers
- Competition creates space for creativity, so provide more opportunities for competition
- Workplace surveys should be used as a routine tool to understand how women and men feel about their work environments, providing organizations the opportunity to understand and eradicate specific barriers
- “Excellence also drives equality. One who is excellent in his/her field doesn’t really need much but his/her excellence.” – Rubana Huq, MD, Mohammadi Group
Topic 3 – Accelerating gender parity at corporate and policy level
The problem of unequal access to security, freedom, resources and opportunities persists, despite extensive evidence in the literature to support the economic case for gender parity in organizations and in countries. The earliest research demonstrated the significant multiplier effect of investment in female education on fertility rates, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, and women’s labour force participation and income. To address the problem efficiently, it is important that we measure the magnitude of the issue, set benchmarks, and track progress against targets.
How can we quicken the closing of the gender gap? The first place to look is the will to change in the leadership. Organizations should also review and implement the most appropriate policy design choices, including mentorship, quotas, targets, financial incentives, parental leave benefit, child care facilities, and taxation.
- Sponsorship rather than mentorship. Mentorship takes very long to build but sponsorship can be promoted more efficiently in an organisation. This will help women to move up the ladder faster.
- Organisations are reluctant to reveal the numbers of their female employees. What cannot be measured cannot be improved. This should be regularly audited to ensure equal opportunities for women in a corporate setup.
- Women fail to promote themselves and raise their hands for what they believe they deserve. Women need to be more confident to talk freely about important issues, such as suitable assignments, promotions, and harassment.
- A woman leader who is not being masculine but authentic and vulnerable is the leader we need now.
- It’s important to develop leadership competencies that reflect “feminine” leadership competencies which are suitable for today’s challenges.
- It’s important to rate companies based on women’s representation in its leadership.
- Dropout rates after maternity pose a major issue with working women and need to be addressed in a fundamental way. Policies can be developed to encourage these women to work flexibly, from home so that they are encouraged to continue.
- If they decide to drop out, they should enroll in higher studies or keep their skills updated in other ways so that re-entry to the workforce is easier.
- Performance appraisal should be based on the output delivered rather than the number of hours put in.