Leaders share their thoughts on how working women can succeed and overcome diverse challenges.
I found this quote on Pintrest that nicely sums up the life of a working woman - “You can find me somewhere in between inspiring others, working on myself, dodging negativity, and slaying my goals.”
You can add to that a lot of other things, and you will understand why women are called the ultimate multi-taskers.
Working women find themselves pulled in multiple directions. There’s work and home, and a multitude of things in between – with roles as diverse as being a mother, an entrepreneur, or a leader.
This means women are tackling different challenges on home and work fronts, trying to be the best at both. While the work-life balance is of prime importance, it also helps to understand how life at work can be made easy so that all other things fall into place.
A research by Thomson Reuters and Rockefeller Foundation in 2015 listed five major challenges women in the workforce face globally. These include equal pay, harassment, career opportunities, managing kids and rising up the leadership rung. and work-life balance.
Three years later, the list remains more or less the same. Sexual harassment probably has found more attention in the startup and corporate space after the Uber incident and big corporate entities like Microsoft, and Google being called out for lack of diversity. Social media too has played a big role by motivating women to join hands and raise their voices against abuse and sexual harassment, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements garnering attention all around the globe.
Gender pay parity is an issue that is widely spoken of today. With the United Nations taking notice, there is hope that change will happen, albeit slowly.
However, work-life balance remains the primary challenge that women leaders face. Climbing up the corporate ladder, becoming a leader, and making time for children and family is still not easy to achieve.
Shikha Bhatt, AVP, Solution Delivery Group- Newgen Software says, “Working mothers face a lot of challenges. They range from managing home, kids and office in parallel, travel restrictions due to family obligations and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, to name a few.”
Integrating work with life is a challenge and something Tara Singh Vachani, MD & CEO, Antara Senior Living echoes too. “Struggling between personal and professional life, work-life balance is one of the major concerns for women, especially for working mothers. As mothers, they juggle between sleepless nights and early mornings, tip-toeing around the house and making sure not to tumble over the Legos, at the same time managing to get through an important board meeting – the journey makes you learn the art of multitasking.”
In the face of these challenges, how do women succeed? Women need to understand that they need to be there for each other. Also, a little indulgence in the form of me-time and time management go a long way.
How can women help other women at work. Support your women colleagues, give them the opportunities they deserve, and if possible be a good mentor.
Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, MPower says, “Today, women are multi-faceted. They are professionals with promising careers, they are hands-on mothers and the glue that holds their families together. But it also means that they are required to constantly multi-task, juggle priorities at home and deadlines at work with equal dexterity. All of it can get quite hard to manage. And that is where a working woman can totally empathise with another working woman’s issues, and lend a helping hand with a chore at home or a responsibility at the office. Also, women all over the world still live with gender bias and discrimination in some form or another, whether it is in the home or at the workplace. In the workplace, women could do with each other’s support where they can stand up for their rights and their self-respect. Only when working women join hands in protest, can the long-held traditions of misogyny and chauvinism be challenged.”
Asking for help is essential. If you share your challenges with family and ask for help, will people be more forthcoming. As Rashmi Daga, Founder, FreshMenu says, “Today you have a network of family, friends, peer groups, industry forums that can all be available for support. We should be able to reach out and articulate the help expectation.”
Another way to seek help to have a mentor. Someone you can talk to, look for advice and share your concerns and challenges. Emilie Moulard Anand, Managing Director -Medela India says, “As men do, working women could also try and find a woman mentor and do not hesitate to raise strategic professional issues with her.”
According to Tara, new-age women are enthusiastic and aggressive in working towards their goals and achieving them. “Standing against all the odds, women are very spirited and aspire to give tough competition,” she says.
On the personal front, she believes three factors can help a woman to be successful. “ Be organised, plan well, and be honest. Women have numerous responsibilities and extended task lists. In order to achieve your dreams, you must organise your tasks and plan well.”
Emilie says it is essential to be genuine as a woman and have the courage to express your own point of view and stand up for yourself to be successful. She believes that women need to be more confident of their skills. “Do not be afraid of being ambitious, she says while adding, “ This is possible only when women take care of themselves, body and mind: the only way to make it to the end of the marathon successfully (especially in the first three years of motherhood).”
Venus Barak, CEO, FranGlobal presses upon the need for women to accept their femininity and to not be harsh on themselves. “I believe that women tend to be too self-conscious, which should not be the case. They should go with the flow not analyse too much, and face challenges as and when they come. It’s okay to make mistakes.”
She is all for being ambitious and being go-getters. “There is an entire ocean of possibilities, therefore women should dream big. As we want more women leaders, we have to really build our capacities to think bigger, bolder and not just be functional because that’s what you really need to run and grow an organisation,” she stresses.
So while we know that the challenges exist and they will continue to for years to come, it is important to seek solutions, and even better, be part of the solution. From being a mentor to helping other women out, to asking for help and to embracing who we are and taking pride in it are just some of the ways to do it, and move forward successfully.