Meghna Gupta

Women in Leadership Roles | Meghna Gupta | Head – HR | Axis AMC

Meghna GuptaThe good news is that an increasing number of organizations are realizing the urgency to increase gender parity by boosting the percentages of women in leadership roles and it is not for nothing. In fact, history is replete with examples of powerful women who have not only effectively led charge but have also been successful in their conquests whether it was in the world of war, finance, economy, art, or even politics.

Let’s look back a few years ago when the Indian Company’s Act 2013 mandated having at least a woman on every board for better representation. Corporate India seems to have taken this in a positive stride as the seventh edition of Deloitte Global’s ‘Women in the Boardroom’ report revealed that women hold 17.1% of the board seats in India, up by 9.4% from the 2014 edition. The percentage of women in senior management for India stood at 39%, against the global average of 31% in 2020, which signals the changing outlook of Indian businesses towards working women. That being said, what remains to be understood is whether these figures actually translate into larger impact and a truly inclusive environment.

Let’s look at some of the key reasons why we need more women in leadership roles:

1. Fresh perspectives & an even more fresh approach: A global meta-analysis comparing male and female leaders brought to forefront the fact that women demonstrate a more contingent behavior for transformation. Men are largely known to be a bit two-dimensional in their approach. On the other hand, women are able to lead better since they passionately advocate for everyone in the boardroom to be heard, which might also be a direct extension of the ‘care-giving’ instinct. The slightly less authoritative (not to be mistaken with a flair for being a pushover) and more cooperative attitude constructs a fresh approach, allowing for new experiences and perspectives that may ultimately lead to the much-needed innovation in our organisations.

2. Bridging the gender-pay gap: It is no secret that women have struggled with the perils of being underpaid for years; it is a societal menace that we are all struggling with. This cuts across industries, vocations, and even geographies. We believe that a better representation of women in the workplace will effectively help bridge this gap, achieving a wider objective for the organisations.

3. Enhancing Communication: Let us not deny it; communication has always been a woman’s strong suit. One may overlook it as tedious but having these uncomfortable or free-flowing conversations is not just for employees to vent their frustrations or talk about their hopes; but it is important from a mental-health standpoint, as well. Female leaders can utilize their communication skills to enhance meaningful conversations with employers, co-workers and partners, thus creating an open communication stream that creates a sense of clarity.

4. All-inclusive workplace: Apart from benefitting only economically, there are a host of case studies to prove that gender-diverse perspectives have improved the non-financial aspect of companies as well. Apart from creating a much safer and inclusive workplace, women leaders have been known to provide more flexibility and leadership opportunities for all employees. If a company has favourable gender diversity practices, more middle-level leaders are likely to take on executive roles. Progress will be not just top-down, but also bottom-up. For the same, one can also consider possibly expanding the size of the board to find more positions for women leaders.

5. Sustainable enterprising: Beyond the fundamental aim of turning around a business, women in leadership roles can lead the pathway to create a more sustainable and strategic plan that provides value on multiple dimensions. Take the instance of the woman in the household — there is a clear plan and strategy to manage expenses, ensure less wastage while fulfilling demands, a dedicated approach to new demands and challenges.

The pandemic too has brought to forefront the importance of having women in leadership roles. Right from showcasing resilience to shouldering even more responsibilities than ever, we have seen a breed of women who have not only dealt with the situation (come as it may) heads-on but have also set examples with their leadership styles and approach. The emergence of a hybrid working model and the increasing importance of the gig-economy should be instrumental in creating a pathway for more women to break the perceived ‘glass-ceiling’ and pursue their chosen profession.

We may be living in the 21 st century but even today, women may not always realise their full potential that allows them to navigate the path to success. When they find themselves in a leadership role, their capability and abilities are undeniable and they have the power to influence even more women. The sisterhood will help only further the cause and better the work environment all around.