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Bridging the Gender Gap with Women in Leadership

Prof. Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury, EVP and CHRO, Datamatics Global Services


Dr. Rima, a seasoned HR leader and practitioner with over two decades of experience in Corporate and Academia, has been instrumental in developing Technology & Leadership capabilities in reputable organisations such as IBM, Sony Pictures Networks India, Quinnox, and Haldia Petrochemicals.


Leadership is a universal concept, and making it a gender issue would be unjust. As a leader, one must demonstrate basic qualities such as courage, determination, pragmatism, perseverance, the ability to guide, coach, and influence others, the ability to walk a tightrope at critical times, and much more. Balance and collaboration may come naturally to most women as a result of their societal upbringing, beginning with a balance between parents and in-laws, family and self, professional and mother. All it takes is a willing mind and an honest soul to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Beyond the usual associations of charisma and vision, there is an aspect of adaptability with leadership. As a leader, you cannot bring about change without adapting or being sensitive to the culture around you. According to research, women find it easier to adapt to different cultures.


Not everyone is a natural leader; in fact, most are not, but they are catapulted to leadership through life experiences, openness to feedback, and a desire to improve. You become a leader not because you have power; you become a leader because, with or without power, you have the ability to influence the lives of those around you, and they are all rooting for your success. There have been times in my journey when both the career growth cycle and the family cycle required urgent and immediate attention.


Workplace Women


Multitasking, a balanced collaborative outlook, sensitivity, emotional intelligence, organised and planned empathy, and deep listening skills are typical top qualities associated with a woman in the workplace. There is an element of Indian culture present here. According to Hofstede's model, which examined cultural dimensions in various countries, India is considered a masculine country, with a score of 56 on the Masculinity vs. Femininity dimension (MAS). This suggests that achievements, success, and competitive spirit are major motivators in Indian society, all of which are perceived to be masculine characteristics. Women in positions of authority have these characteristics, as well as the ‘perceived' feminine qualities of emotional drive, relationship-building, and intuition.


However, as we move up the ladder, the number of women at the board level is alarmingly low. ‘Women make up 42 percent of new graduates in India, but only 24 percent of entry-level professionals. Around 19% of these people advance to senior management positions. Women make up only 7.7 percent of board seats and 2.7 percent of board chairs (Financial Express, Aug 14, 2017). These scenarios can be significantly altered by the light of education, which will automatically illuminate the path to a better tomorrow, providing equal opportunities for success for all. I would encourage everyone to share their wisdom with those who can benefit from it, and to contribute to making the world a better and more inclusive place. Before entering the professional world, the educational sector serves as a window into the world. As opposed to a product or service, this industry creates people.


A Word of Advice


You may need to adapt to situations, but that does not mean you must lose your uniqueness and the strength of your natural style; avoid destructive escapism. Listen to your inner wisdom in times of difficulty. Life throws its own curve balls at you; a couple of ducks are fine as long as there are multiple sixers to cherish; you can't win every time. Take advantage of the Mentors you've met and cherished along the way, who understand your strengths and weaknesses and are always available to offer advice; remember, even CEOs have coaches.


The road to change is never easy, but if you are committed and determined to take it, everything falls into place. If you are a working woman who is also a hands-on mother (as many of us are), don't be constantly on a guilt trip. The fact that you are able to balance both is an accomplishment in and of itself. There is no need to prove to anyone that you are a superwoman because YOU ARE ONE. Keep in mind that nothing in the world is perfect. It is the journey to perfection that should be enjoyed. (As relayed to HER Team).


Prof. Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer


Prof. Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury is a seasoned human resource practitioner and academician who has worked in the corporate world for nearly two decades. Dr. Rima has recently transitioned as Professor and HoD-HRM at NL Dalmia Institute of Management Studies & Research, to groom and develop young MBAs, as a seamless continuation of her role of managing millenials as VP HCM at Quinnox Consultancy Services. She received (one of) the World HRD Congress's 50 Most Influential HR Tech Leaders Award in 2015, as well as industry accolades such as 'Young HR Professional of the Year' at the Asia Pacific HRM Congress in 2009.