Building Leader in Heels

In conversation with Charulatha, correspondent, Siliconindia Magazine. Pooja expresses her perspective on the ways in which mentorship and networking programs play a pivotal role in empowering women and propelling their career growth

The challenges that women facing to reach society when it comes to empowerment
Women encounter both external and internal challenges in their journey to leadership. Externally, cultural expectations in economies like India can be a significant barrier, as women are often expected to manage both work and household responsibilities flawlessly. This cultural mindset needs to evolve to support women's professional growth. Additionally, within the corporate world, there exists a bias that limits women to certain roles, hindering their access to leadership positions.

Internally, women may struggle with imposter syndrome, doubting their capabilities and not recognizing & sharing their achievements. This self-limiting belief hampers their confidence and willingness to apply for senior business roles. Moreover, many women tend to shoulder excessive burdens and find it challenging to say no, which further affects their progress.

Overcoming these obstacles requires empowering women to challenge their self-doubt and advocate for their achievements. They constantly need to remind themselves of their wins. The belief that I make a difference to lives of people can help in regaining confidence. Additionally, cultural expectations need to shift to foster a more equitable environment, allowing women to thrive in various leadership roles. By addressing both internal and external limiting factors, we can create a more inclusive and supportive landscape for women in the workforce.

Policies or initiatives are necessary to promote gender equality and empower women in society
Advancement in women's reintegration into the workforce after maternity is promising, but much remains to be done. At the societal level, there is a critical need for improved infrastructure, particularly clean facilities for women in various professions such as sales and construction. At the organizational level, addressing unconscious biases among male-dominated management is crucial. Conducting periodic workshops to identify and address these biases can foster inclusivity. Additionally, organizations should consider aligning career planning with different life stages that women go through, including maternity and menopause. Mapping career moves based on life stages will support women in balancing work and personal responsibilities, encouraging more women to join and stay in the workforce. These measures hold the potential for significant progress in promoting gender diversity and inclusivity.

Recognizing the potential and competencies that women often underestimate, mentors play a crucial role in guiding individuals towards self-discovery and realizing their own power

Mentorship and networking programs contribute to women's empowerment and career advancement
Mentoring has proven to be a pivotal factor in empowering women and overcoming imposter syndrome. Recognizing the potential and competencies that women often underestimate, mentors play a crucial role in guiding individuals towards self-discovery and realizing their own power. A mentor serves as a mirror, impartially reflecting an individual's abilities and strengths, helping to dispel self-doubt. Professional networks of women, both formal and informal, can further bolster this support system, enabling women to discuss challenges and foster growth in their careers or entrepreneurial endeavors. Structured mentoring facilitates self-analysis, identifying core values, aspirations, and achievements. By nurturing thousands of women annually, these mentoring efforts can lead to transformative changes in the lives of women, making it an essential aspect in achieving gender equality and empowerment.

Empowering Women: Fostering an Inclusive and Diverse Workplace Culture in Organizations
At the organizational level, addressing unconscious bias through sensitization workshops for leaders and line managers is crucial. Creating professional networks for women and promoting mentorship initiatives can empower them. Additionally, fostering open forums for honest discussions about experiences and challenges women face will help identify root causes and drive positive change. Encouraging regular and genuine communication ensures a suitable and equal work environment for all. Promoting crucial conversations is vital for achieving workplace equality.

"Fostering open forums for honest discussions about experiences and challenges women face will help identify root causes and drive positive change"

Steps can be taken to breakdown societal stereotypes and biases that hinder women's progress and limit their choices.
UNESCO's article reveals that girls start feeling less intelligent than boys from age 6 due to societal conditioning. This gender disparity doesn't exist at birth; it is instilled through upbringing and education. To tackle this, we must prioritize nurturing children and investing in girls' education, especially in tier 3 cities where gender discrimination persists. State governments and corporates should support on this movement and promote awareness. Education plays a pivotal role in fostering gender-neutral thinking, so strict regulations against biased practices are essential. Media, including television channels could showcase successful women as role models to challenge stereotypes. By emphasizing more female achievements, we can bring about a positive cultural shift, breaking gender-related job stereotypes.

Urging for Progress: Initiatives & Policies Empowering Women in Leadership Positions
The progress in accepting women in leadership roles is encouraging, but only 3.5% of women hold board positions in India, indicating the need for significant change. The key lies in cultivating a gender-diverse and customer-centric workforce with differentiated skills. Women leaders bring essential competencies like commitment, empathy, and multitasking. Organizations must invest in women, especially in frontline roles, foster communities that support and mentor women, and reinvent policies to support women through different stages. Mental health support and counseling are crucial to help women manage stress and boost their confidence. By creating a supportive environment and empowering women, organizations can build a stronger and more inclusive future.