United, we soar: women leaders and professionals on how women can help each other succeed at the workplace
There is a wonderful quote I saw doing the rounds on social media, and it sums up exactly what women can do to help each other so that the sisterhood grows stronger.
“Be the woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world that it is crooked.”
In our professional lives, with only 25 percent of women in the workforce, we can all do more as individuals, as colleagues, as bosses, and managers to help women succeed at the workplace.
HerStory reached out to women - CXOs, entrepreneurs, and professionals to find out how more and more women can help and support other women in the workplace. How they can succeed individually, but effectively lift each other up in the process as well. Here is what we learnt:
Treat others the same way you want to be treated
Bhavishya Kelappan, Business Head, Mia by Tanishq says, “When it comes to a dynamic work environment, the idea is to inspire and recognise the achievements of team members, whether male or female. When you're a woman, regardless of what level you are at, you have the opportunity to create change for women who want to grow professionally, and also create a network of women who support each other. You can share your personal journey and help figure out the balance of work life, motherhood, and so on, while helping her follow her own career path. It’ll be gratifying knowing your efforts helped tip the scales toward gender equality in the workplace. Come together to create a team of women that’s unstoppable. Be genuine to yourself and treat your team the way you’d want to be treated. Always be on the move, and in action. With yourself, and the other powerful women around you.”
Bhavishya Kelappan, Mia
Mentoring is essential
Almost all the women HerStory spoke to emphasise on the need for mentoring.
Vasuki Sunkavalli, former Miss Universe India 2011, is Co-founder and Director of Rainmaker, which helps corporates build ethical and compliant workplaces. She believes that is important for women to mentor and acknowledge and appreciate the work of their female colleagues. “Mentoring is a very effective tool with which women can help other women succeed, and acknowledging and appreciating the work of a female colleague can help her get recognition,” she adds.
Vasuki Sunkavalli, Rainmaker
Vasuki points out that it is important for women to start helping each other and stand up for each other especially when women are being sidelined at meetings. “We need to dispel the common and untrue notion that women's relationships are marked with envy and mistrust,” she says.
Annu Talreja, Co-founder and CEO of Oxfordcaps, says, “The biggest lacuna that I witnessed at the workplace is the lack of female role models. I think women who have achieved success in their careers should devote some time to mentoring younger women, and that is the only way we will have role models to look up to.”
Annu Talreja, Oxfordcaps
Sympathy out, empathy in
Kanchi Chawla, VP, Human Resource of travel website ixigo lays, it out as she sees it:
"While the number of women professionals in today’s corporate world has grown, so has the variety of problems they wrestle with each day to get to the next. It’s important for women co-workers to be proactive in helping their colleague get through these situations without losing their dignity and self-confidence.
Kanchi Chawla, ixigo
“One proven method is to lead by example! This can be achieved by getting into the thick of things, and being articulate about their own struggles and victories on the personal and professional front. Open channels of communication between women have massive benefits for the individual as well as the organisation,” she says, perfectly capturing the sentiment by adding, “The mantra is simple, sympathy is out empathy is in.”
Standing up for each other
Ankita Jain, Co-Founder and CMO, GoPaisa, the cashback and coupon website, believes that women have to put up a united front to succeed, and to do this they need to promote each other. “Women can sponsor a deserving woman for a project or can vote when a promotion is considered,” she says. On bigger battles, she adds, “Sometimes, changes in organisation policies are required for issues like maternity leaves. Women should educate and spread awareness among women colleagues for their rights and speak up as a group.”
Of course, mentoring and speaking up for other women is important, and while Anu Mangaly, Senior Engineer & Architect, Manageability Group, NetApp India, features them prominently on her list, she shares two others ways women can help other women at the workplace: First, refer other women. “In whichever department or role, when there are times we feel a woman’s efficiency could add instant value, we should speak up, advice, and refer.”
Anu Mangaly, NetApp India
The second she shares is the need to initiate women groups. “It encourages women to speak out. While we are a vocal a lot, we do hesitate on speaking out ideas in the professional scenario as freely as we would otherwise do.
Provide innovative work models that are outcome based: Women are multi-taskers; therefore, evaluation should be result-oriented and not measure as the work hours clocked in.”
Shruthi V Nithin echoes the same thoughts. The Founder and CEO of Floap, a platform that curates and connects premium pet services to pet parents, says,
“If you are in a position of power, however small it may be, speak up if you see
gender discrimination at the workplace, and within the team. Also, translate words
into action by hiring with the intent of equal representation for women, and
ensuring they have platforms to be heard. Create mentoring groups focused on women at the workplace, and sensitise other women into understanding that women are allies, and to stop looking at others through the lens of competition. Most of us believe that there are only a limited number of roles for women at a workplace, so instead of opening doors for other women, we often shut these doors.”
Shruthi V Nithin, Floap
How do you think women can help each other succeed in the workplace? What more can each of us do? If you are a champion for change then tell us how you are supporting other women in the workplace. Leave your thoughts and inputs in the comments section.