If women want to be viewed as equal in the workplace, they must stand their ground and demand the respect they deserve
By: Raman Bhaskar
Ever since education and professional skills positioned women amongst men, they have determined career success by their ability to adjust to the male-dominated culture and business processes in their field. Women try to play by the existing rules in the workplace and have the additional hurdle of society’s perceptions of how women should act and be seen. While education and practice are reducing some of the invisible angst of being a woman in a leadership role, there are still challenges to face and overcome. It rests on current women leaders to embrace their role-model status and address those challenges head-on with action and execution.
To achieve that, more and more women in leadership positions are pushing the boundaries of gender equality by utilising their strengths and leadership qualities – in skill, knowledge, experience and emotion. They are pursuing the things they want from their job and their career, not waiting for it to come to them. The key is confidence in all your resources and abilities.
“Once I heard that I shouldn’t expose my feelings at work, because this represents weakness, especially coming from a woman,” said Mayra Attuy, a marketing head at a Media Company. “I see emotion, passion and compassion as valuable assets, not things to be ignored or hidden.”
The importance of leaving your comfort zone
A commonly cited Hewlett-Packard study on internal hiring practices found that men often apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. There is an unconscious belief that unless a woman meets the criteria exactly, she won’t be considered. Changing that belief starts with you. You must believe you are capable of doing the work and proving it.
While girls are taught to play it safe, smile pretty and get all A’s, boys are taught to play rough and be go-getters. In other words, we expect our girls to be perfect, and boys to be brave. Even when women are ambitious, the expectations place them in the way of professional hazards. But success is found outside of one’s comfort zone, but is often hindered by the fear of the unknown.
“Every successful entrepreneur and business leader did what they were afraid to do instead of just letting the fear rule in their personal and professional lives,” she said.
The best way to overcome fear is to acknowledge it: Recognise the fear is there, but do it anyway. If you’re too rigid, you could miss one of those unexpected moments that could inspire a creative solution or force a different approach.
“My biggest challenge was combating the fact that I was really shy and quiet,” said Hicks at the inaugural American Express OPEN CEO BootCamp in 2013. “In starting a business, you have to get out and talk to people. I was doing door-to-door [subscription] sales, which was the last thing I ever thought I would do.”
Leaving her comfort levels paved the way for Hicks to take advantage of opportunities that never would have arisen otherwise.
“Don’t miss out on opportunities that come your way,” she said. “Put yourself in a position to have those opportunities; know when one is facing you and take it.”
The mindset of equality as a reality
A recent study found that in 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, based on hourly wage for both part-time and full-time work.
Many women have felt the effects of the gender gap during their careers, whether it was a pay dispute, a lost promotion or just a snide comment from a co-worker. Even if your work environment champions equality, it’s not uncommon to encounter people who have faced some kind of discrimination, subtle or not, because of their gender.
It’s difficult to think this way when cases of gender inequality are talked about in the news and on social media every day. However, if women want to be viewed as equal in the workplace, they must stand their ground and demand the respect they deserve.
We have noticed that if you act like there’s equality in the workplace, then there will be.
That’s not to say that people should pretend inequality doesn’t exist. Acknowledging the need for change is important, but more important are your actions and attitudes in the workplace. Encourage yourself and others, and don’t let perceived detriments rule the day.
A woman worker at a marketing firm had this to say: “Being a working mom in the corporate world is a daily challenge, despite the struggle to find balance, I consider it my proudest professional moment to be when i returned from maternity leave. My simultaneous personal and career success has made me a stronger marketer.”
Women as role models
Natural attributes normally assigned to women can be big differentiators as leadership qualities in the workplace. Women can help others set goals and attain them, emphasise teamwork, and invest time in training, mentoring and personal development. Women are less likely to have the “lone wolf” or “leader of the pack” mentality, lending themselves naturally to developing and helping others. An Indian corporate and public life, we have examples like Indra Nooyi and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw who made exceptional leaders in their respective areas.
In contrast to men, who tend to be career-centric and want to maximize their financial return from work, women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan. Therefore, they’re more likely to approach their careers in a self-reflective way and value factors such as meaning, purpose, connection with co-workers and work-life integration and are acknowledge for their gender natural mentoring a talent
We at Manipal Hospitals, recognise and respect the female talent in all areas and levels of healthcare and our HR policies are carefully designed and drafted to protect their internals personal as well as professional, at all times.
The Policies also encourage our women to take opportunities of equality with their male co-workers and also demand comparable returns in terms of financial gain and status in defined or undefined hierarchies.
In order to ensure a sense of safety at their place of work, Manipal Hospitals adopted a well-documented charter called POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) and abides by it across all levels of their employees without exception, making it one of the safest institutions not only for work-culture but also for fearlessness in doing the right things and not succumbing to pressures of any sort.
About the author
Raman Bhaskar is the Unit Head at Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, New Delhi. He has worked in challenging assignments across multiple geographies of India, Malaysia, Nigeria & Gulf countries. He has studied corporate law from Indian School of Management Studies & completed his Masters in Hospital Administration from Tata Institute of Social Sciences & has done MBA from IIM Kozhikode. He is a certified Internal auditor for National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare. He has worked with globally renowned multinational companies like GE & HSBC before joining Manipal Hospitals.