Organisational hazards for women
If so many women are entering the workforce, why are they not reaching the top? Are companies not able to nurture and k...
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Organisational hazards for women

If so many women are entering the workforce, why are they not reaching the top? Are companies not able to nurture and k...
  • With Women's Day around the corner, Priyanka Agrawal, Co-founder, COO and CSO, Fractal Ink Design Studio shares how she has observed more and more women professionals coming into the workforce.
  • However, she wonders why they are not reaching the top and able to smash the glass ceiling.
  • Agrawal lists down the things where companies go wrong in this process and a few solutions they can opt for to facilitate more women in leadership.
At Fractal Ink, we have a 60:40 female to male ratio, and we are incredibly proud of it. It is not that we are biased and hire more women because both the genders have to go through rigorous recruitment and interview processes to get placed at Fractal Ink.

In general, we are observing more and more extremely competent women professionals coming into the workforce who are extremely driven. One can, therefore, assume that it would be the same for other industries as well.

Which raises questions like:

If so many women are entering the workforce, why are they not reaching the top?
Are companies not able to nurture and keep women motivated?
Are there external factors that affect their growth path?

Or some harsh questions such as:

Do they get settled pretty soon and lose focus on career growth?
Do they have enough professional backbone to stand up to their families to make the right professional choices?

Some of these harsh questions will need a more significant movement to be able to find a solution. In the meantime, let’s focus on where companies go wrong and what can they do to facilitate more women leadership.

1. Organizations suffer from a “CLUSTERING ILLUSION”

Hiring/ promotion process erroneously over-estimates the knowledge of the past patterns and base their decisions on them, e.g. A large number of women have to leave early from work because they have to maintain a work-life balance or, quite a few women can’t travel for a longer time for projects after marriage. Hence, the management presume the same for all women and prefer not to waste their time. A lot of women lose opportunities because of this pre-decided mindset.

We as leaders need to ask more fundamental questions such as, why do we need more than 8-9 hours of work in a day? Do men not need a work-life balance? Are people spending unproductive working hours during the day, so they can show they are working hard by sitting late?

Also, there would be some women who refuse to take on certain responsibilities depending on their family situation. Managers should motivate them to look at the larger picture and lay out what they would be missing if they let these opportunities go. Still, if they can’t, they shouldn’t generalise the situation and hold this against other women by not presenting such opportunities to the deserving ones.

2. Male leadership suffers from “SOCIAL PROMOTION SYNDROME”

Most promotions at higher level happen at the back of the mind in social scenarios/ casual drinks, and women take a big hit in this department.

In a lot of male-dominated organisations, men use casual abusive language as a part of the daily conversations. Female presence, for them, means they need to be careful in their choice of words and that makes them uncomfortable. So, if they have to choose between two equally competent man or woman, the obvious choice becomes a male. Also, after work get together or casual conversations, which most women end up not going to for several reasons becomes a roadblock for them coming in the consideration set for promotions.

3. “OVER-SOFTENED ATTITUDE” towards women reinforces gender biases

How many times when we think about working women, their issues, we think of the below:
  1. Flexible working hours
  2. Work from home when required
  3. Setting different outcome standards for men and women
This special treatment can be counterproductive. It reinforces capabilities and commitment gaps between the genders. If a company is productivity-focused, it can extend these benefits to men as well. If the rule sets for both genders are different, the outcomes and promotions will automatically be different.

All these opinions and views are a combination of thoughts collated from a lot of strong women at Fractal Ink. Women, who believe that nothing or no one can come in the way of their achieving excellence. I am proud and honoured to be associated with them and learning new things every day. When I started working in 1999, the challenges were very different from what they are today. As leaders, we need to get into regular ‘reverse mentoring’ sessions to understand their point of views and facilitate their growth in whatever way we can. I hope I can do right to them every day.

Thank you, power-force of Fractal Ink. Let us be the wind beneath your wings!

- By Priyanka Agrawal, Co-founder, COO and CSO, Fractal Ink Design Studio