I have been speaking at various organisations as part of their diversity initiatives to women managers and realised that the problems they face are largely the same. Indeed they are the same challenges that all of us dealt with as we tried to balance home and work. The guilt of leaving a small baby at home, the constant choices one has to make between self, family and organisation, the unwillingness to give up control and trying to be perfect at everything and the stress this puts on all of us; has been the same for all working women. But every woman ends up getting overwhelmed and feeling she is all alone, and her problems are uniquely her own. The book is an attempt to tell all working women that firstly she is not alone and many of us have handled the same things she is going through and secondly there are ways and means to deal with all the issues she is grappling with and emerge triumphant!
Will the book appeal across age groups? What’s in it for those starting their careers, and what’s in it for the women business leaders?
Yes, the book covers different aspects of being a working woman, e.g. handling being single or the adjustments that need to be made when you start a family or as a leader how to balance being a boss outside and a partner at home. So there are anecdotes and tips which cover practically every area that a woman will encounter in most of her career graph.
What’s the difference in your view, between a woman-led organisation and a man-led organisation?
I think men and women all have their unique strengths that they bring to the table and frankly if you are a leader with sound strategic sense, great implementation and team building skills and can create an enabling culture, it doesn’t matter what your gender is; you will build a great organisation regardless. The one difference obviously in a woman- led organisation is that younger women, who see role models in senior management women leaders, feel more confident and enabled to stick onto their career rather than giving up. So yes, a woman-led organisation is likely to have more diversity!
With the social order changing, are we giving as much credit to the working male member of the home for balancing work and home?
I think women have taken to their new roles of being hunters as well as nurturers very fast, while men are still learning how to be nurturers! But clearly the entire equation is changing. I see the new age man being an equal partner to his wife, treating her career with as much seriousness as his own and equally willing to share a larger burden of rearing children and managing home. Yes he requires a bit of training and gentle nudging and it’s a life-long process to get the perfectly trained husband, but I can see the change clearly.
From the time you started and now, how has the corporate perspective towards working women changed? There is greater talk of the value of gender diversity in the workplace. Your views.
Earlier, having a woman in the team was more a gesture or tokenism whereas today organisations have clearly realised that a more diverse organisation equals better business results. By ensuring that the organisation is more female employee friendly, they are ensuring that they have a larger talent pool to choose from. And the more diverse the organisation is, the more likely it is to be more innovative, open and nimble!
The book comes across as a 'guide for working women'. Is there something that men can also learn?
I think there are lessons in it for anyone who is working. It talks about the value of having a positive mindset, of hard work, of concentrating on building a reputation and not just a CV. I think men will find it equally relevant too.
Any other tip that you would love to share with our readers?
Yes. The most important thing to remember is that life throws challenges at all of us – young or old, male or female. In that sense, it is pretty democratic in dealing out the cards! It is up to us now on how we play the game. And I have always found having a sense of humor, not taking yourself too seriously, and not over thinking issues helps deal with them far more easily!