What do women want on Women’s Day — or any other day — at the workplace? Love it or hate it, Women’s Day celebrates the immense contributions of women across the world, be they at work, in nation-building, in innovations, in society, or at home. Officially known as the International Women’s Day, the United Nations first started celebrating it on March 8 in 1975, but the history goes as far back as 1909, when it was first observed in the United States. Its relevance, however, is just as pertinent today as it was then.
Companies the world over are racing to better their gender diversity to retain and attract this valuable workforce — even the 2018 Oscars had a bugle call for better representation and recognition of women.
At Flipkart, policies and the workplace strive to make the environment meritorious and free of bias, making it one in which women employees can continue to innovate as they have always done.
So what is it that makes a workplace work for women? This Women’s Day, as we celebrate the innumerable contributions of women, we decided to ask an age-old question and flip it on its head: What do women want… in the workplace? Here are some candid answers from the women themselves.
Women want equal opportunities, support and mentorship
Monomita Roy Avasarala, Director – FinTech
Women want the same things as men do — equal opportunities at work, and support and mentorship for career progression. They want the ability to work on assignments that fuel their passion and allow them to make a difference, while connecting to their work-life balance. They seek respect for the talent and hard work and hence the value they bring to the work, irrespective of gender. They want their opinions heard as much as that of their male colleagues. They look forward to be mentored to become better at their work in a supportive and flexible workplace that is free of biases.
Women want work-life balance
Lisa Mohapatra, Associate Director – Lifestyle
Work-life balance, equal opportunities and fewer assumptions. Women seek respect for different styles of working and points of view. From their own colleagues they expect support and a network that helps them thrive. It’s not surprising to see that women want the same things as anybody else from their careers — learning, growth, recognition and support at different stages of life.
Women want to enjoy where we already are
Padmini Pagadala, Associate Director – Design
A friend of mine, a successful entrepreneur with a 6_month_old baby in tow, confided in me that her worst nightmare would be becoming a housewife. Then she stopped to ask herself if that would be the worst thing in the world.
We are a generation that was brought up by predominantly ‘stay-at-home’, ‘full time mothers’ of the 1980s. A majority of them did not earn an income. And, somehow, in their minds, this made them ‘less of a success story’. Have these hard-working, self-sacrificing women drilled their version of success so much into our heads that we have attached so much negativity to this term. Or for that matter, is this why we have become shaking, restless, self flagellating versions of ourselves? Don’t get me wrong. We owe a lot to our mothers and Women’s Lib in its entirety. So much so that, I think we have gone the other extreme with the opportunities that we now have. I haven’t ever met a woman who thinks she has made it, someone who in her professional, personal, emotional, social dimensions thinks she has achieved what she wants to.
This Women’s Day, what I believe every woman should want (me included) is to sit back and enjoy where we already are. If there are miles more to cover, we will get to them. Pour yourself a drink, sit back and enjoy the present, current, perfect you.
Women want full inclusion
Shilpi Bhabhra, Senior Analytics Manager
No differential treatment, no special treatment, no vacating chairs for us in a meeting room. Today’s women want full inclusion. And any discrimination — positive or negative — keeps us away from it. I do empathize with my male colleagues, who are often unsure of what’s the right behavior in these changing times. Should they hold the door for the woman or leave it and let it bang in her face! In such situations, think what would you like your colleague, male or female, to do if you are the one coming behind or standing without a chair in a meeting.
Women want a roadmap
Aashima Jain, Senior Specialist — Process Design
The company’s commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high. Companies should lay a roadmap to gender equality based on merit minus any special treatment or perception. A roadmap that supports women in all aspects.
Starting from ordinary meetings to executive offices and boardrooms – recognition of ideas, being considering for stretched or important/challenging assignments and credit based on merit is what we look for. Away from the office, women bear a disproportionately large share of responsibility of the home and family – policies should help us balance that and aid our ambitions for higher roles and career advances. We don’t want to feel sidelined at work and stretched at home.
Women want to go for it!
Arathi Vedantham, Director — Internal Communications
I think women, like men, thrive in a professional work environment with good prospects. However, we need to be more outspoken. Many times, when we have an idea, we stew over it — will it work, is it good enough, should I say it? We need to let go of these inhibitions and hesitations. If you want that promotion, ask for it. Ask for that raise — just go for it. I don’t think there needs to be anything special or different for women at a workplace. The only time leaders need to be sensitized is when a woman is coming back to the workforce.
We also need to do away with misconceptions — the perception that women keep shifting their priorities between home and work, or that women are not aggressive. We prioritize and we are and can be aggressive.