Equal opportunities, work-life balance, full inclusion or recognition — there is a lot that women look for in a fulfilling work environment and career. Much like anyone else. At Flipkart, from its policies to its work culture, teams across the board work towards an environment that is truly ‘for all’. So what better day to celebrate what has been achieved and assure of even better days ahead than an International Women’s Day event? Inspiration, hope, camaraderie, laughter, high tea, goodie bags and a grand party, read on to get a glimpse of the packed event on March 8, 2018.
“Now I know just a little bit about what women must feel like, every day,” said Ravi Garikipati, Flipkart Vice President, to around 300 women employees packed into the banquet hall of a hotel in Bengaluru. As more women filed in into the already crowded room, Ravi noted, “The tables have indeed turned.”
Ravi was speaking at an International Women’s Day event held for the women employees of Flipkart — an especially big day for Flipkart as it marked the launch of the Diversity & Inclusion chapter, which will work to ensure that the work environment is free of any bias and is anchored on meritocracy.
“Oftentimes when we talk about diversity we quickly confine it to gender diversity, which is very important. However, in this charter we would like to look at diversity going beyond gender — be it LGBT, ethnicity, race and physical ability among others. But gender diversity is a good starting point. We are looking at a slew of initiatives to address this,” said Ravi. “It’s a work in progress but we’re making a good effort to get going in all these fronts.”
True to its spirit, the charter’s name was crowdsourced from the employees themselves. The favorite? WE or Workplace Equality. And it was exactly this theme that set the tone for the evening.
From an Olympic swimmer to Flipkart leaders, both women and men, to guffawing laughs with Anu Menon, the evening was empowering, emotional and reassuring in equal measure.
It’s surprising sometimes to learn that you may have something in common with an Olympic swimmer and an Arjuna awardee. But Nisha Millet left no doubt that the journey to success is made of pretty much the same things for all of us — strength, conviction and passion, with a day off thrown in. Her anecdotes of putting up the Olympic rings near her bed to make sure that it was the first thing she saw when she woke up, to getting told by aunties that no one would marry her because of her swimming tan, were inspiring and relatable.
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When Monomita Roy, Director – FinTech, took the mic, it was to share her journey to where she is now. Monomita has played a key role in shaping FinTech offerings not just at Flipkart, but across India. Her mantra when she first started out (with a dwindling gender ratio at the IITs and then at her first workplace)? “I can be outnumbered but I must not be outperformed.”
The speakers’ narratives of equal opportunities, work-life balance, support, empathy and full inclusion struck a chord with the audience. “I was thrilled when I was pregnant, but very soon I also felt scared when I realized what that might mean for my career. But my fears were unfounded — I was told to take care of myself, take my time and, believe it or not, I did my best work at that time,” said Monomita.
At that moment, women in the audience jumped to ask for the microphone so they too could share their experiences at Flipkart with the room — and the floor was thrown open. Some said that despite apprehensions, they were spoilt for choice on projects after their maternity leave, another recounted how a Flipkart manager reached out to see how they could create a good work-life balance for new moms like herself, and yet another spoke of joining Flipkart while pregnant and the support she received along the way.
As emotions ran high, Anu Menon swooped in on stage to make sure that the audience took some laughs home as well. Her take on dating, married life, in-laws and being the ‘alone’ mom (while her husband was at sea) at school meetings had everyone going, ‘Me too!’
On a personal note, to women working their way up, she said: “I think if women could just put a little less pressure on themselves — a lot of the pressure is self-inflicting — it would work out great.”
The overwhelming message of the event? Diversity is key. “From a business point of view, the business reaches newer heights if it’s able to take decisions based on different views/perspective as opposed to be based on one-way thinking. From a culture point of view – an organisation looks and feels much more vibrant and wholesome when it is able to embrace and enjoy diversity,” said Ratna Singh, Director-HR, and one of the key people behind the event and Flipkart’s Diversity and Inclusion charter.
Sachin Bansal, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Flipkart, closed the day’s events reflecting on the changes taking place across the world for women in the workforce. “I too learned a few things today. The whole world is going through change and we hope we’re ahead in that change,” he said.
The party, however, had just started. There was dinner, drinks, fun and a whole lot of hope. Check out some more pictures from the night.
Additional reporting and photographs by Rajkamal Narayanan