The Asian Women in Leadership Summit 2018 held in Mumbai brought together eminent personalities from various corporates to reflect upon workplace challenges faced by Asian women in achieving leadership roles. The summit enabled exchange of views around board diversity and gender parity in the corporate work space. It concluded with the Spotlight Panel – ‘Women for Women – Does it Work?’ an insightful discussion across range of topics such as the responsibilities of women in leadership roles, unconscious bias and mentoring. It comprised of eminent speakers such as Vandana Chopra, Head of Brand and Communications – KPMG; Tanya aChaitanya, Editor & Chief Community Officer – Femina (Worldwide Media);Veena Rao, Head product management, Corporate Banking – Finastra and, Vinita Gera, Sr. Director and General manager, Dell EMC, India COE. It was moderated by Priyanka Singh, Vice President, Content & Strategy, TV & Digital, Network 18.
The panel addressed the need and multiple ways by which women can support and help raise other women in their respective careers. They discussed various elements faced by women employees that hamper their growth such as maternity break, lack of gender equality policies in the organization and others. Each of the panellists spoke about various counselling and mentoring programs being initiated at their respective organisations to felicitate a smooth and equal working culture. It was observed that the women employees tend to question less upon having any doubts about their promotion, increment, etc. The women leaders shared their views and jointly agreed upon the importance of speaking up and having an open communication about professional matters. The session concluded with each of them sharing one principle that the companies should implement going forward.
Vinita Gera, Sr. Director and General manager, Dell EMC shared, “If you are a senior woman in your organisation, you have a responsibility. You should be looking at diversity as an agenda not just in terms of hiring but everything else including supporting, mentoring, being there etc. A senior woman in an organisation has a lot of responsibility. I see some of them do not put their weight on this but only focus on their career. I believe one being at that position has to give back and have to do a lot more.”
Tanya Chaitanya, Editor & Chief Community Officer said, “There are two things I would like to share. One, at an individual level, there should be a buddy system in place where a senior person buddies up with a junior, very promising employee. That goes a long way because that is a very informal mentoring system. It allows the new employee to settle in a new organisation, understand how the organisation functions.” She added, “Secondly, a very important one is about companies being held responsible and women leaders who are in the position of power can affect it. It is a sort of a score card about how does the company rank in diversity at workplace, are women being given equal opportunity, concerns being addressed, any issues get cropped up for women, are companies meeting a certain standard, etc. If any publication or brand decides to bring up the list of top 10 companies in the country that adhere to these standards, then companies will vie to be a part of a system like this at a lager level.”
Veena Rao, Head product management, Corporate Banking – Finastra suggested to fix the leaking pipeline. She mentioned, “As women leaders the biggest responsibility is to lay out the measures for how to fix this leaking pipeline. There are a number of ways to do it. The way I do it is, I make myself available for mentoring and that is a very powerful tool because some of the limitations that we face in our minds can be unblocked by one conversation that you can have with somebody else. That can go a long way in changing the direction of your career.”
Vandana Chopra, Head of Brand and Communications – KPMG said, “For a more intrusive workforce, mentoring is really the solution. All of us seek role models. We start looking for role models at a very early in our life and continue to do so after growing up. We always aspire to be like someone and that is the human nature. Hence, mentoring and creating the right role models within a firm really helps.”
The AWLS 2018, Mumbai witnessed the support and backing of some the leading names in the industry, such as – Ernst & Young, INSEAD, Yourstory.com, UN Women, amongst others.