D&I policies and quotas- check! What next?

As a country we have made tremendous progress on democratizing education. Especially in higher education. At graduate level we have a 50:50 representation of both genders. At PG level, it tips in favour of women with 60:40 (roughly).

At the organization level, there is a lot of work being done on ensuring a certain gender diversity at a recruitment level and representation across levels up until the board of directors. There is also effort going into equal pay, diversity friendly policies, etc. There are recruitment agencies working on enabling 2nd career opportunities, reskilling, etc. through specialized platforms.

Culture change is the next big one. It’s the big hairy beast that doesn’t have any shape and form, but its everywhere. How do we bring in a culture of equality? Again, organisations are trying to do their bit with ‘Inclusion’ as an agenda. Early days yet. No one has really cracked the formula.

All these are absolutely need to do, however, they will take time to trickle down till the last mile for each and every woman to really experience it. So what does a woman do, till all this change happens around her. Does she just wait sitting around?

When I reflect back on my life and two decades in the corporate world, I see a lot of usual and unusual experiences. I handled a lot of complexity, but never quit. And the secret sauce for me was not my superhuman powers. Quite the opposite. Through my journey, I inadvertently recognized the programs or gender conditioning that was holding me back, and one by one, eliminated them.

Girls must be soft natured and nurturing. Maybe relevant at home, but not at work. It made my boss think I was too soft and not capable of being tough.

Girls must be compliant and cannot disagree with elders at home and the boss at work. This made them think I was a pushover without a spine.

Girls must not seek credit. So, I let people take credit for my work.

I can go on and on, with a hundred examples.

Point is, that many of us out there have been similarly conditioned. And I managed to reprogram myself, and hence so can everyone else! This is a small but significant step women can take with the support of organizations, in service of delivering on our diversity and inclusion goals.

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