So, Women’s Day is over and thankfully with it, the cacophony of empowerment, women are the best, so much sacrifice, heart shaped chocolates (muffins, if you are supposedly cool) and plastic wrapped roses. If I had a penny for every time I heard the ‘diversity’ agenda that organizations are relentlessly gunning for, I would be writing this blog post from a beach in Bahamas. But like my peachy daydreams, many companies fail miserably- to both fulfill their ‘quota’ of women and more often, to sustain them. I can pick a million holes in the way organizations are self-sabotaging their efforts because of their undeterred superficiality, but where’s the fun in that?
First things first, as someone who worked in both women and men dominated industries (PR and Alco-Bev), I can safely tell you that it is unequivocal. The Yin needs the Yang, estrogen requires androgen, les femmes fatales work best in conjunction with les hommes fatales, or simply put, an equal workforce is a successful workforce. You may say this is all good captain obvious, but how do we actually make women happy at workplaces? So, as a captain of something, let me tell you the most obvious things that companies miss out on, when women hires become numbers on an excel sheet-
When words are all you have- Every dating advice column in the world doles out the uniform message of substantiating your words with actions. What makes you, the faceless leader, think that it doesn’t apply to your relationships with your employees? Stop luring women by claiming ‘flexi hours’ are real when they are as non-existent as my niece’s pet unicorn. ‘Work-life balance’ would be more believable if you weren’t greeted with taunts of ‘Half-day today?’ every time you left office at six pm. Talk of ‘diverse work culture’ would make sense if maximum chairs in your boardroom weren’t hosting the XY chromosome. Get real guys and give women some credit to see through the baubles.
Self-doubt is real, and your support should be too: It may be your KPI, but hiring alone will not cut it for us, dear diversity officer. There is a sea of opportunities for talented men and women, we have enough agility to jump ship. What will set you apart is the conducive environment you can create for our success. Unlike popular belief, women are not looking for slack-sympathy or half days or spa vouchers, what we truly want is the right kind of guidance to help us overcome our self-doubt. Give us the tools to help us reach our true potential. The right mentors, behavior, training, policies and opportunities. And don’t pretend that it’s not going to benefit you too. We really do see through it, bud.
Listen, Plan, Act, Repeat: You organized your focus-group and you took copious notes once in a year. Made a lovely presentation with ground breaking insights written in pretty fonts and then you hired more women. Success yes? Not a chance. Apart from the infuriation of being ignored, not acting on the feedback will only add to your womanly woes. If we tell you our boss is a mansplainer, train him better. If we are uncomfortable leaving late since its Gurgaon and we value or lives, give us company transport. Move over empty gestures, make our voices count. It’s that simple really.
The ground we are left to cover in gender equality and workplace diversity is bigger than a 100 Titanics. But unlike the ill-fated ship, I believe we are only rising up and sprinting forward. So you, dear HR person planning Women’s Day activities, need to keep up. The chocolate you gave us is sweet but a real change that lasts, would be a whole lot sweeter.