Women @ Workplace – Don’t let your strengths become your weakness

It was October 1999. I had just finished MBA and joined as a business development executive in prestigious training company. In six months of joining, I close a huge deal of an IT company for XML training. Training kicked off well. Vikas Malhotra, HR head of the same company was very happy with our trainer and facilities’. Over the phone he shared the feedback and invited me for a dinner. I was glad as a young executive this deal would have taken me to next level. I shared the feedback and dinner plan with my boss and teammates.

Patting on my back boss said, “Aparna do take care of Mr. Vikas, it’s a key account for future business.” I couldn’t hide my excitement and with a smiling face I nodded and came out of his cabin.

Just outside boss’s cabin Ravi my teammate passed nasty comment, “Guys see the live demo how girls close the deals.. Just with one dinner”.

This comment of Ravi impacted me badly; after thinking for a while I denied the dinner offer. My boss asked Ravi to take care of Vikas, hence Ravi went on a dinner. They had food, drinks and smoked together. Within a week, Vikas started calling Ravi frequently and ultimately he started handling that account. Ravi played really good politics.

Today when I turn back; I feel what was wrong in going over a dinner? Why did Ravi’s comment impact me so much? Why did I give up so soon? Was that politics? The situation would have been different if I would have avoided fitting in the frame of ‘Nice Girl’. Each gender has advantages and disadvantages. What is harm using it?

This incident, minor as it was, remained seared in my memory as a reminder of the attitudes a woman has to encounter as she steps into the workspace. I spoke to many working women recently. Work environment today is much conducive than 1999, yet companies have been discussing about what is that holding women in their career? There are various books like “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, discussed controversial manifesto on why women have not ascended to the most senior positions. She concludes that it is partly women’s own fault: they do not “lean in” and ask for promotions. Barbara Annis and John Gray argue in “Work With Me” that men and women are biologically wired to think and react differently to situations, and have “gender blind spots” when it comes to understanding their co-workers’ behavior.

Years passed, but the situation has not changed. Discrimination and bias have not gone away, it may take little long time but the time has come for introspection of our behavior. Woman who intends to climb the career ladder, necessitate understanding of strength of being women. But those strengths must not become obstacles in the career path.

Best Relationship Managers: Women are best at developing and maintaining relationships. It is a biological virtue of women; they are concerned about people and their emotions. The focus of women is always building relationships. People management is significant competency at workplace. But when women give priority to relationships over task, it turns out to be their weakness. Women do not wish utilize relationships and consider it as politics. In every relation there is give and take. At workplace the focal point has to be achieving goals, by building strong team. Senior level job require the competence of building 360 degree strong relationships, focusing goals and solving the problems along with people management.

Not Road Blockers: Another quality of women at workplace is that they are generally not the road blockers. They are best at doing things, but this also has adverse impact on their career. This kind of behavior leads to becoming follower and not a leader. Management wants employees to be thinkers. Thinkers ask questions, challenge the system and do not follow it blindly. Thinkers try to bring change the current scenario. This does not imply not create obstacles but rational has to be there.

Good to be around: Women employees make the work place lively due to their natural quality of being bubbly. They create positive environment around. This certainly contributes to upbeat work environment. It is observed that women decorate their office, share too much personal information, smiling, feeding colleagues, helping too much to colleagues, treat male bosses as father figure, etc. The intention of these act is good, however they are perceived as immature by their men colleagues. This kind of behavior results in only being showpiece but not as deserving candidate for promotion.

Working too hard: “Women have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good”. Women work hard; do not say ‘No’ to any task.  They are one who delivers on time, however this generate stress. Buying a time is important skill but women think that this act may be perceived negatively. Every employee need to complete his or her share. People are not recruited or promoted only because they work hard. Women need to work strategically. Research shows that women are poor at delegation. In fact women also found doing someone else work. This may be in favor of your boss or organization, but on higher level company need people who work smartly and good at delegation. The result of and work is more work and may not be promotion.

Soft communicator: Maintaining relationship being always a priority for women. In that they avoid straight communication. They always opt for soft or indirect communication. Women hesitate to speak even for small matter like taking a leave. They display reluctance for their rights like salary hike or a promotion. In these situations also your organization will be happy but you will be at loss. Women to be more direct while communicating. Women talking to the direct or openly are considered to be aggressive and most of the women at workplace do not desire to fall in that category.

Corporate environment is changing. Today we see good percentage of women working on lower and middle level. The challenge lies on senior positions. Men still occupy most top jobs. It is evident now that women need to take charge of their career.  Women must not allow their strengths become their weakness at workplace. 

This article was first published on BizDivas.in

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Global gender gap – the hiatus needs to be bridged

Worried about the economic gender gap? Concerned that the yawning chasm in the earnings of men and women is barely closing? Well, you have cause to be.

The Global Gender Gap Report, 2015, of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is out, and it’s not good news. This year’s report indicates that it will take the world another 118 years, or until 2133, to close the gender gap fully! The report reveals that the slow pace of progress in bridging the gap in economic opportunities between women and men means that women are only now earning the amount men did in 2006, the year the Global Gender Gap report was first produced.

The Gender Gap report ranks countries in four categories — Political Empowerment; Health and Survival; Educational Attainment; Economic Participation and Opportunity—and finds that the largest gaps remain in the economic and political spheres. Some of the key findings of the report are:

  • The global gender gap across health, education, economic opportunity and politics has closed by only 4% in the past 10 years, with the economic gap closing by just 3%.
  • The education gap has widened in 22% of the surveyed countries since 2006 and, while more women than men are enrolling in universities in 97 countries, women make up the majority of skilled workers in only 68 countries, and the majority of leaders in only four.
  • Despite an additional quarter of a billion women entering the global workforce since 2006, wage inequality persists.
  • The Nordic countries still dominate the Global Gender Gap Index, just as they did 10 years ago.

This is how the world fares in terms of gender parity

Sr. No.Top 10Bottom 10
1IcelandYemen
2NorwayPakistan
3FinlandSyria
4SwedenChad
5IrelandIran
6RwandaJordon
7PhilippinesMorocco
8SwitzerlandLebanon
9SloveniaMaili
10New ZelandEgypt

 Where does India stand?

India’s performance remains poor on almost all parameters, and even though its ranking has improved to 108 from 114 in 2014, the overall situation is quite worrisome. Defying its size, and in spite of the resources allocated to various schemes to improve health and sanitation, India is placed in the bottom three in the Health and Survival sub-index. To make matters worse, India, China and Albania — the bottom three countries— have declined the furthest in this sub-index. Even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are ranked higher than India. Among our neighbours, only Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan are ranked below us.

About the only category in which India has performed well is Political Empowerment, with a ranking of nine, which is a jump of six positions in the sub-index compared to the previous year. This is because it has more than doubled the percentage of women in ministerial positions from 9% to 22%, thus ranking second in the Asia-Pacific region in Political Empowerment.

It’s bad news on other parameters. In Economic Participation and Opportunity, which considers labour force participation and wage equality, India ranks a poor 139. We are the third-lowest-ranked country in Asia-Pacific in this sub-index India. In fact, India widened the gap in labour force participation by a good 7%. In terms of providing economic opportunities to women, India is at its lowest point since WEF started measuring the gender gap in 2006

With regard to labour force participation, we stand at 136, and in wage equality, at 129. It’s the same on the literacy rate front, where we are at 127. Expectedly, with regard to the sex ratio at birth, India ranked 143. In Educational Attainment, we are at 125.

Clearly, we have a long, long way to go before we reach a standing somewhat befitting our size and the global influence we hope to exert.

And how does the world fare?

As per the report, no country in the world has fully closed the gender gap, but four out of the five Nordic countries and Ireland have closed more than 80% of it. Yemen, the lowest-ranking country, has closed over 48% of the gender gap. The countries at the top of the Gender Gap Index are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland.

According to Saadia Zahidi, the lead author of the report and Head of Gender Parity and Human Capital and Constituents at the World Economic Forum, the Nordic countries are still doing the most to close the gender gap. They have the best policies in the world for families; their childcare systems are the best and they have the best laws on paternity, maternity and family leave.

The worst performing nations are Iran, Chad, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.

Out of 145 countries, there are only four countries where more women than men work. These are the African nations of Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Burundi. Another interesting nugget from the report is that only in Columbia, Fiji and Philippines do more men than women have leadership roles.

The report adds that round the globe, the gender gap across all four categories has closed by 4% since 2006. In the economic category, it has closed by 3%, but little progress has been made in wage equality and labor force parity since 2009-2010.  According to the report, “At the current rate, the economic gap will not close until 2133.”

That’s a pretty sobering thought, and one that should worry governments and civil society alike. That there is a pressing need to take the fight for gender equality to the next level might be stating the obvious, but it needs to be hammered in all the same. Unless there is a global effort to implement actionable best practices to close the economic gender gap, nothing much will change by the time the next report is published. Or the one after that.

This article was first published on BizDivas.in

Women through the lens of commercial advertising

I can say I have a more than keen interest in advertising. Having worked in Ogilvy Mumbai HR department and being with a husband who had an advertising career, I have seen the industry up, close and personal.

One of the things I believe to be true is that the portrayal of women in advertising is a lot more progressive than their general depiction in a majority of TV soaps and even Bollywood.

While the ‘dekho mere pati ki kameez kitni safed hai’ advertising also exists and the occasional inner wear ads do regress; a spate of TV ads in the last few years have pushed the norm and busted many societal mores. Here’s my observation as a woman and a coach.

Soch Badlo – Woman as the influencer and the soft power centre at home. The Tata Tea Jaago Re TV ads have portrayed everyday women as conscience keepers in the home amazingly well. Whether it’s chiding the husband to avoid triple riding on bike even while going out to vote or gently saying to bring about real change, ‘humein soch badalni hogi’; the Tata Tea Jaago Re campaign to my mind is amongst the best. It uses normal situations and moments and yet successfully re-frames the male-female power equation.

Meri Beti Hai Mera Beta – Again I have seen a few TV ads that have managed to successfully punch holes in this Indian ‘beta syndrome’. Be it daughters stepping up to shoulder financial responsibilities or buying a car for the family in insurance ads; the traditional role reserved for boys has been questioned and gently appropriated. A much welcome change, I would say.

Woman as Father Figure – Another great ad is by the health drink – Bournvita. For years, the mother was shown as the silent caregiver and provider; but this ad where she eggs on her son to outrun her again successfully reframes the women’s role as the coach, motivator and the father figure. We are unclear whether she is a single parent or whether the husband works in another city. Regardless of the reason, it successfully pushes the envelope of the role a mother plays in her child’s life.

Second marriage – Hats off to Tanishq to really make this bold commercial. From the days when a traditional Indian household wouldn’t even want to disclose that it has a divorcee daughter or a widow daughter-in-law, to this ad where a leading jewelery brand makes second marriage as its central story, Indian advertising has definitely come a long way.

I am not a kitchen appliance – This Havel’s ‘Respect Woman’ series is one of my favourites. The series successfully demolishes the old advertising and media archetype of a husband- T h i r d S p e a k So here’s how women look like!! Through the lens of commercial advertising, it explored husband wife relationship. It’s a great series that makes viewers think – if the man and the woman play equal roles outside in the world, why should the home be any different? Simply, firmly and yet not in a preachy way. The quiet humour makes even more hard hitting. Respect!

Wife cum Boss – Lastly, this Airtel TV ad where the man and the woman work in the same office and the woman is the boss, generated one hell of a controversy. The woman is shown as doing more important work in office, she goes home early while the husband is left to complete the work. But then the ‘boss woman’ rustles up a great meal to compensate her man. The verdict was divided whether it pushed for a more career driven empowered woman or whether the wife is still shown subservient to the man in the house. I, for one, would say this ad pushed the boundary. 8 out of 10 Indian men might be quite uncomfortable with the idea of their wife being their boss, be it at home or in the office. So this ad did re-frame the spousal relationship and reflected the changing reality and social adjustments.

There are a lot of inner-wear, perfume and deodorant, and low priced cleaning powder ads on TV that still portray a more regressive woman – submissive to the male, with limited influence and often there just to prop the glamour quotient of a SUV or a bathroom fitting. But things have changed. Little by little, women in advertising today look and act very differently than those in the 80’s and 90’s. They have a voice and they get their way!

Many leading brands have done innovative bold scripts and taken the lead. So the change has both reflected the changed reality and also inspired more change.

Power to such efforts and stories. May their tribe increase!

This article was first published on BizDivas.in

One Woman in every Boardroom

While conducting Interviews with CEOs for my research CEO Commitment to Diversity, I often heard the common lament. “We want to have more diversity in our boardroom. But where are the women?” We just don’t know any, when questioned why they don’t have women on their boards. Though some of the Indian CEOs are cognizant with the fact that having diversity in the boardroom would benefit the organizational performance but they usually fail implementing it at the C Suite level. But, with the Companies Bill 2012 making it mandatory for a woman to be present in every boardroom in the country, change is finally on its way. The Bill states, There will be an appointment of at least one woman director in prescribed class or classes of companies.

The truth is, it’s not hard to find qualified women to serve on corporate boards. In addition to professional executive search firms that maintain databases of men and women who are qualified to serve, there are many women business organizations across the country that perform board searches for a nominal fee, or at no charge. Many colleges and universities have women leadership programs that can help identify qualified individuals from their alumni network. Business and trade associations can also be a good resource for finding senior-level women from different business sectors. Some CEOs have even reported that they have found candidates for their boards by reading articles about businesswomen and women of achievement in national and local business publications.

So why, in 2012 does this inequity persist? Research suggests that all the board positions get filled by the still-existent old boys network and references. Usually, these positions never get advertised. This brings us to the need of having more visibility for the women talent pool we have currently in India. Not all qualified board candidates mirror the traditional director profile executives with C-titles. Companies may consider modifying their board criteria to broaden the pool of candidates. Experts believe boards need to recognize that they shouldn’t be recruiting members based on subject-matter knowledge (technology, financing, etc.), but rather should be seeking effective leaders. After all, it has to be best fit for the position or role.

Find a qualified women director:

Work with an executive search firm.

Find a local women business organization that offers board searches services.

Contact your local university’s  women leadership program.

Identify businesswomen who are quoted in the business media.

Our vision to see One woman in every Boardroom by 2020 is supported through our various initiatives:

  • Search Capabilities of our Diversity Consulting Firm, Altavis which works with Fortune 500 MNC firms to identify Women Directors for their boards.
  • Diversity & Inclusion Roadmap Consulting for large organisations to plug their leaking talent pipeline.
  • Biz Divas network of more than 15000+ women leaders across India in corporates, business & public leadership.
  • Biz Divas Mentoring Leadership Program which aims to train and mentor 100+ women by 2020 to reach leadership positions.

This article was first published on BizDivas.in

Don’t have a stay-at-home husband like Ki & Ka to achieve work-life balance? Here’s what you can do

As a woman, you may be as ambitious as Kia. But there’s a lesser chance that you have a husband like Kabir waiting for you back home. Usually, it’s only in the movies that we get to see a man playing the wife complete with themanglasutra (necklace only Indian married women wear).

work life balance

As a career-driven woman, don’t wait for this extreme change. Bring in the change. Find a mid-point by learning how to balance work and your life at home. Dividing responsibilities with your spouse is the first step in the right direction. Learn how to balance work and your life at home.

Sometimes it’s not easy. “Every day you have to make a decision whether you gonna be a wife, mother in fact many times a day you’ve to make those decisions and you’ve to co-opt…,”said Indira Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo in her famous ‘women can’t have it all’ interview (video below).

She further says, you’ve to develop a coping mechanism.

Research has shown that division of household responsibilities between working couples is key to a successful marriage. In fact, it’s about finding that right balance.

Here are a few tips:

Divide the work
It may sound trivial but it works. Sharing house work is more about achieving a sense of co-ordination and team effort. Making a to-do list that decides who does what may seem mundane, but it’s a more productive way to accomplish your common goals.

Communicate
We’re always told clear communication is important if you want to succeed at work. The same is true for your life at home. You have to be able to understand what your partner is saying. Ask questions if required. Make requests with ease. Enjoy what you do. Give it a try. It’ll work for you.

Empower
If you don’t put away your sense of authority on how things have to be done, you’ll wind up doing everything yourself. Allow your spouse to take decisions about how to execute tasks. Be open to suggestions and new ideas about how to accomplish them.

Take stock
Take stock of how you are progressing. Are you on track or ahead/ behind schedule? If you aren’t, you need to examine why. Do you need more resources because you are struggling to accomplish too many tasks? Reviewing your roles is important to gauge whether the system you devised is working or not. It’s also a good time to swap tasks, to see if that works better for both of you.

With little ingenuity and patience you can bring in that work-life balance. All you have to do is bring in a slice of your work personality home and develop that coping mechanism!

Maternity Policy: India and rest of the world

In a welcome move, the Centre has announced that maternity leave in private sectors will be increased to 26 weeks from the stipulated 12 weeks. According to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 female workers are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (84 days) of maternity leave, with not more than 6 weeks before the date of delivery (Indian Express).

Year 2015 will be the bench mark year as far as maternity leaves are concerned.  Merissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo was making news across the world as she planned to take only two weeks maternity leave to deliver twins in December. On the other hand scene in India is looking brighter.

This year companies are seems to be becoming more diversity conscious and making inclusive policies for women employees. Maternity benefit is one of the most important benefits always been talked about. Newest organizations are going extra miles for women and setting high benchmarks in the industry.

  • Citi India is offering leaves of 180 days as per the convenience of mother.
  • Citi Bank offers child care allowance of Rs. 1.32 lakhs annually for up to 4 children.
  • Filpkart has recently announced 6 months paid leave and 4 months of flexible working hours with full pay.
  • Google offers 5 months paid leave including salary, bonus and stock.

Does that mean that India has one of the best maternity benefits across the world? As per NDTV news data we get to see the global view on maternity leaves:

Canada50 weeks with 85% pay 
Sweden56 weeks with 80% pay 
AustraliaNo maternity leave only parental leave of 18 weeks which can be divided amongst parents 
FinlandPaid leave of 50 days before delivery and 4 months after delivery 
France16 weeks leave for single birth and up to 34 weeks for multiple births 
Germany14 weeks leave with full pay
Japan14 weeks leave with 67% salary
USA12 Weeks unpaid leave but given benefits from state
South Africa16 weeks leave 

So Indians have reason to smile. Experts mentioned extending maternity leave will also promote more women to return to work and close the gender gap in the labour market. Many women reluctantly drop out of work because they need more time for their newborns.

The news went viral of social networking sites and got to see lot of reactions from women and men as well. Though the news is positive, women have expressed their concerns about job security once they come back.

One of the ladies working an advertising company said, “Mixed emotions right now since it might even give room to decelerate the lady’s career growth considering 26 weeks is 6.5 months!!! I would be all for it if they make that optional rather than mandating it!”

At the same time one young girl doubted about promotions and appraisals.  Men also expressed hopes on the alteration in paternity leave.

The surprising comment was, “I really will think twice before taking such a long leave. It will impact my career.”

At the same time there are many working women who are not aware about the policies. The picture seems to be good in MNCs and in unorganized sectors women are not able to avail even existing policy. The uniformity in execution of maternity leave policy seems to be missing. To ensure the implementation of the policy government need to develop mechanism. The small scale companies where there is less than 20 workers face major challenge to implement this policy. Industry is moving forward contractual employment; women working on contract basis may not be able to avail this facility. The biggest question remain unanswered for working women face is do firm assure that their career path will not be affected if female employees choose to take career break?

This article was first published on BizDivas.in

Mom’s the word when it comes to these 11 crucial workplace lessons

Pull the frills apart and the workplace is nothing more than an adult sandbox. There are a few who bond well, a few who choose to stay aloof, a couple of bullies and some who stay to themselves. How do you work with them all?

Mom knows best! We tell you how her catchphrases can help you at work.

mother's day

Who do you think you’re talking to?
What you say and how you put it across is extremely important at the workplace. Whether it’s a leader, a colleague or a junior team member, speak – and listen – with respect.

Play nice
It’s not possible that you will like everyone you work with. And you don’t need to. Be tolerant, show respect, play fair and never foster unnecessary conflict.

Mind your manners
Leaders who have the job of creating a cohesive culture within the organization would do well to follow this mantra. So would the rest of the team. It’s what makes the workplace a nice place to be!

Anything worth having is worth working for
Tough assignments, long hours, crabby colleagues…but stick with them you must for success does not and cannot come overnight.

Stand in a corner and think about what you did
If you feel like you’re barking up the wrong tree – be it with a colleague or a project – a timeout may give you the time to reflect and sort things out in your mind.

‘I don’t know’ is not an answer
Saying “I don’t know”, be it in a one-on-one or a group setting, sends out the message that you’re incompetent or uninformed. You can “not know” but word it better: Try “That’s a timely question as I’m currently gathering XYZ information” or “Super question but I’m not familiar enough with ABC right now. Let me connect you with… .”

I’m going to give you until the count of three
In a world where not everybody seems to take deadlines seriously, it’s important that you do. Setting and maintaining deadlines – for yourself and team members – shows that you are professional, respect others and take pride in doing your job well and on time.

Do unto others…
This oft-quoted biblical passage says it all when it comes to behavior and comportment at the workplace. As Richard Branson said: “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”

Don’t judge a book by its cover
Not everything that’s different is bad. Diversity in the workplace – whether it is age, gender, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation or work experience –brings together different perspectives and gifts.

If everyone jumped into a well, would you?
Don’t follow the pack just because everyone else is doing it. Aligning your attitudes, beliefs and behavior with those around you is fine in small doses but don’t let the herd mentality stop you from thinking out of the box.

Finish your homework before you play
If you didn’t do it as a child, live by this maxim now. Setting priorities, making to-do lists for the next day and planning your work will make getting the job done easier.

Moms always say, “You can do anything you put your mind and heart into.” There can be no better career advice!

4 steps women can take to close the pay gap

Actress Robin Wright has been making the news recently, for demanding equal pay as her male co-star in the serial House of Cards. And for getting her demand accepted.


“I was like: ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin (Spacey)’,” the actress is reported to have told the producers of the show, backing up her demand with data. “There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal..I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it,” she reportedly said.

gender pay gap

In the work world, where starting salaries can be the result of negotiation and of historical precedent, equal work doesn’t necessarily equate to equal pay. Too often this inequality has a gender disparity. Simply put, women get paid less than men.


The recent Monster Salary Index shows up some staggering figures. The gender pay gap in India is 27%, which means that women get paid almost a third less than men. The differences are the highest in manufacturing (34.9%) and IT Services (34%). The lowest gender pay gap was recorded in the Banking and Financial Services and Transport, logistics, communication, equally standing at 17.7%.


Efforts to close the gap are a work in progress. In the meantime, here are four tips to bridge the pay gap.

Know the numbers 
Talk to other people in the industry for information on salaries. Know the benchmarks. What is the range of salaries? How much does the head of sales at an IT company make? How much does the departmental head of accounts at a manufacturing concern make in a year? Here is a resource to help you.  

So you are being paid less? List the reasons why 
• You assumed salaries weren’t a negotiating matter. You would be paid your worth. Negotiating for a higher pay would somehow jeopardise your chances of landing the job.
• Today you think you could have negotiated better but when you negotiated your starting salary, you didn’t. So whatever increments or raises you get are on a smaller base.
• You took a career break and came back at a lower salary.
• You moved into a more ‘flexible’ track with less travelling or late hours. Your job is considered ‘softer’, ‘less pressured’ and therefore paid less.

Are you being paid less than your male colleagues, for an equal contribution? 
If like actress Robin Wright, your value proposition and your ratings at work are as high as your male colleagues, you have a clear and demonstrable case for negotiating equal pay.

Prepare your pitch for equal pay
Make a reasoned argument by referring to the numbers. Describe your contribution, your individual strengths and everything else you bring to the table. Link your contribution to company numbers like sales, customer acquisition, financial or operational parameters, wherever possible.
Don’t be apologetic or half-hearted about asking for equal pay

You can pitch to be on par with other colleagues in many ways. But a rational approach will probably work more effectively than emotion or activism. Arm yourself with data. Be assertive but not aggressive. Anchor the negotiation by naming a number, based on your earlier research, that reflects what you are worth and also reflects equal pay for equal work.

5 ways women can help each other get ahead at work

career women

Women don’t often lean in on each other but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has enlisted A-list celebrities to help her put across the message that female co-workers don’t have to become enemies in order to excel in the workplace. The video, which features Serena Williams, Eva Longoria, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington and Megyn Kelly, urges women to “lean in together”, to become allies, not rivals.

That stands true at most workplaces today where women don’t realize the importance of showing solidarity. By treating a woman colleague as an ally rather than opponent, you can only ensure your own growth and success in the organization.

Here are five suggestions on how women can help other women get ahead and, in the process, pave the way for their own success:

1. Try to mentor, not compete
In organizations where women are a minority, it is likely they will compete with one another. But it’s important to remember that one person’s success does not mean another person’s failure. You need to recognize that your female colleague plays as important a role in your success as your male colleague. So try mentoring. If you’re a team leader, take a junior woman colleague under your wing. If you’re a junior, ask to shadow a senior woman manager. A good mentor can provide counsel in stressful times, share career advice and offer support when required. 

2. Pay attention to women peers
While it may appear easier to be a mentor or mentee for women below or above you, you may find it more challenging to have a relationship with another woman who has the same role. But try and build trust and respect instead of fretting over whether your colleague is doing a better job than you. Have an open and honest conversation regarding the work you have been assigned. You may realize your individual strengths can combine and result in higher and better output.  

3. Stand up for second-generation bias
Second-generation gender bias is making its way into the dictionary of women’s workplace issues as a subtle, and perhaps unintentional, fact that affects her potential. These unseen barriers are often difficult to spot as they are revealed at varied points, from the wording of a job description to rules about maternity leave. It is important for women to educate themselves and spread awareness. You can do so by coming together, talking about experiences in the workplace and speaking up as a group if company policies and practices need to be changed.

4. Sponsor and promote women
While mentorship can be very helpful, the key to helping another woman is by sponsoring her at the workplace. Sponsoring means you suggest a deserving female colleague’s name for a new project or cast your vote for her if a promotion is being considered. A woman in a senior position should keep an eye out for a younger female employee who shows promise and may make a good protégé. Younger employees can network with women in senior positions and ask for career advice. 

5. Respect hard-won battles and have realistic expectations 
There is often a generational divide between women who have made it to the top and women who have just started out. This may result in unrealistic expectations. The junior employee may have high expectations from a senior because of their experience and position. The senior may expect a junior to be more energetic and keen to learn, or may expect her to go through the same challenges that they did. It is crucial for women to cut each other some slack to get ahead. 

Top tips for women to help other women get ahead
• Senior women can advocate for policies and procedures that benefit women. They can educate men in the organization to help.
• Recommend an official mentoring program for women be instituted in your organization.
• Don’t try to put a woman colleague down in order to pull yourself up.

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How can working women help inculcate entrepreneurial skills in their kids!

Recently, while going back home my daughter told me about her day in school. She happily said that her teacher asked, “What do you want to be, when you grow up?” I asked her for her reply, and she said, “I want to be a business woman just like my mother!” Tears rolled down my eyes, I had always been living in the guilt of not being able to spend enough time with my children due to the work pressures.

Her answer gave me enough confidence to take pride in my entrepreneurial journey. I realized that I am setting an example for my daughter on both personal and professional levels. I am teaching her to be independent and helping her pursue her dreams when she grows up.

Here are some of the key pointers on what can be done to inculcate entrepreneurial skills in children:

  1. Goal setting is vital for future success– The best way is teaching your children to accomplish their goals in a fun and exciting ways. They can write down their top 10 goals and then choose the one goal that would make the greatest positive impact in their life.
  2. Kids must learn to recognize opportunities– Your kids can point out what stresses them or causes them grief.  They can give out possible solutions to the problems; this would help them focus on the solutions, rather than the problem itself.
  3. Selling is involved in every part of life– Encourage your kids to start with smaller projects like selling their old toys, having lemonade stand. Let them decide the price and sell it to their customers. This skill will last a lifetime.
  4. Inspiring creativity will build marketing skills– Motivate your kids to start observing marketing materials like billboards, advertisements. Know what catches their attention and what they would do to improve their liked advertisements.
  5. Effective communication improves all relationships– Most important thing is good communication skill. Teach children about using verbal and written communication in the way it is supposed to be.
  6. Independence creates confidence– Next time your kid asks you to buy a new toy for them, ask them various possibilities of creating money through entrepreneurship. Let them find out different ways in which they can buy the toy themselves.

This article was originally published on BizDivas.in