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Transformation Today, To Revitalise Women Of Tomorrow

18/12/2014 7:44 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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Women have ALL the skills, confidence, and ambition to succeed today. However, do they have a transformative professional network to support them, mentor them, inspire them, and amplify the 'Third Metric of Leadership' or are they still alone in this?

It's December, which means it's that time of the year to reflect on the magazines and writers that so interestingly talk on world incidents that shaped the current year and the social media companies attracting a lot of attention (bouquets, and maybe few brickbats) as they innovate around privacy. Good to ponder on the top marketing trends, the top technology trends worldwide, the latest version of Apple phone that will outsell the older version, the e-commerce valuations in India and their success, the Alibaba story, and the incredible stories of women entrepreneurs, many from India, who spoke up, dared to think different, and carved a niche looking beyond family pressures, social norms, to assert themselves.

In today's day and age, women have ALL the skills, confidence and ambition to succeed. Agree. The next logical question that follows is, do they have transformative professional network that mentor, inspire, and support through 'Third Metric of Leadership' or are they alone in this? The answer is still an unqualified 'No', as I followed up with friends, and learnt through the network about the challenges. While consulting at US few years back, I often used to find myself invited by professional associations from my Business School's 'Association of Women in Business' at Duke, and quite a few companies allowing women to network, talk, cherish their associations. However, on speaking with friends and network back in Asia I learnt that woman mentoring does absolutely exist on very informal levels but it is yet to become formal and come of age within the corporate world.

Let's think of the two women-led movements: Lean In, and The Third Metric, both are highly successful movements in the western world followed by a large community. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Ms.Arianna Huffington talked about 'The Third Metric' as the second women's revolution because it's one where we change the metrics of that world. The third metric of leadership is 'Redefining success beyond money, and power to include well-being, wisdom, and our ability to make a difference in the world.'

Through this movement, Ms.Huffington reinforces that in order for women to 'perform' they must also "lean back," and focus on balancing their lives through adequate sleep time, health and wellness. Leaning Back, is an actually the smart way to complement Ms Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," movement, which encourages women everywhere to aggressively pursue success by raising hands, speaking up and never, ever backing down.

If that could be a success in West, such movements could definitely find a place in India, Asia and everywhere. While the transformation to a woman-friendly workplace, which prides on creativity and comfort does reflect across the world, here are some ground level facts and statistics that show that change seems hard.

1. Is A Second Career Post-Maternity A Possibility?

Women, more of them than their male counterparts -- some 53 versus 47 per cent -- claim entry-level management jobs, according to McKinsey research report. But the numbers drop for women to 37 per cent for mid-managers, only 5.2 per cent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and only 5.4 per cent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Primitive maternity laws are still a big reason. Outside of the four countries -- Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Greece -- the rest of countries still have unpaid leave structure, or inadequate parental transition programs, including policies to create that balance.

Let's look at India. There are companies that go all out to win women -- Citi India and Tata have mother-friendly norms, and allowed changes, which inspire their employees. Tata's have started second career initiative for women to allow them come back after a break. Having said that, if India is the size of few countries put together, perhaps there is a need to have higher number of women-friendly organisations mentor!

2. 'Third Metric Friendly' Offices:

Are we doing enough to make that difference and follow the 'Third Metric' at office? A friend of a friend, with a new born baby, could not opt in for a work week, as she felt it was very difficult to step out of her home, or stay away from her young one. A few women entrepreneurs have opted for flexi-working, and home-friendly IT practices prevail. Software such as Team Viewer, and Webex offices allows remote working a possibility. Thankfully, few offices, across industries, in IT, media, advertising, have created creative offices -- nap rooms, good vacation time, meditation and yoga classes, and gyms -- a digital detoxification of sorts. Why can't there be more such places, as happy employees are a predictor of employee's performance.

3. Brands Need To Speak To Young Women About Their Confidence And Concerns:

According to Fleishman Hillard's white paper on 'Women, Power, Money': "The pattern of leadership from Gen Y women is seen in many positive terms -- including

ambitious and successful -- as well as terms such as stressed and exhausted". The survey results highlight the 'potential and pressure felt by many Gen Y women, as they have feeling of sarcasm, exhaustion and anxiety.' Brands need to tailor their messages, and speak to the women about their concerns, stress, and anxieties. So much to support them.

4. Social Media And Lean In Circles:

Is social media able to play a larger role of a mentor yet? In India, Facebook is very popular and social media activities such as, photo sharing, reading and writing blogs are major activities, according to ComScore. The precarious question is that while we are using social media to disseminate information. Are we giving that a creative spin, and letting mentoring be part of that? Are we using the hashtag well enough to ensure performance? Heather Dahill, Chief Operating Officer, Women and Co, from a large US bank offers money advice to women on the 'Women and Co' platform. She runs a check on credit card, and personal finance issues. As a digital marketer, I feel strongly that there is more power that rests in hands of business, agencies, and marketers to infuse utility and create online forums to empower women, and make them take faster decisions.

Are there enough discussions around issues such as #leanincircles on Twitter, which practice compassion, and collaboration? Can Facebook, Pinterest or Whatsapp offer professional career advice to women as 'tech mentors'?

Ironically, while stay-at-home fathers in US -- about 154,000, according to the 2010 Census -- number is on the rise, women still have to carry out more of the domestic work, according to report by Pew Research Center. This should and can change.

Change is hard. The idea is, are we seeking comfort or change, as embarking on change is hard.

Let's hope that we all through our network bring in that change. In Ms Huffington's book 'Thrive' there is a great point she shares that 'Go-Getters are good, Go-Givers are better'. I'd wish that the change happens, and a lot more women managers nurture and create culture of 'go givers' round the clock. It's really hoping more initiatives, such as that of Citibank, which allows creative work practices a possibility, as we see more C-level women at the top.

Really, trusting changes spring up, & digital technologies and social media serve the mission of a 'tech mentor' and influence corporate entities to understand the importance of nurturing women and allowing them to be productive. 'Women have the skills, confidence and ambition to succeed today' but the transition would be smoother if workplace look into wellness, and amplify 'Third Metric of Leadership' through creating that change, and allowing women to transform today to revitalise tomorrow, achieving perfect balance in getting family bliss, while following on work life accomplishments.

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