International Women's Day 2023: The world is empowered when women are empowered

How can women professionals excel in a male-dominated profession?
We must ask ourselves two questions: Is the profession something only male professionals can do by virtue of their gender? If not, what factors have made the profession male dominated? In my experience, there is no profession that is solely dependent on a particular gender, au contraire, they usually become gender-skewed owing to factors such as social constructs, the demand-supply gap on the human capital side, unevolved organizational culture, and so on.

I work with some of the most talented, enterprising and passionate women in one of the world’s largest aluminium companies. Metals, mining and heavy engineering industry has one of the lowest gender diversity ratios amongst industry sectors worldwide, in the low single digits (even in evolved countries). But compared to our global peers, we at Vedanta Aluminium, have a healthy double-digit gender diversity ratio.The secret sauce for our healthy gender-diversity ratio includes gender-agnostic job roles, a merit-driven work culture, rich job content which is compelling enough to keep women at work even when families become pressing, a host of global experts who groom our employees for success, a sharp learning curve, and a plethora of wellbeing initiatives designed to support them at every stage of their lives. These women are living proof that women can not only excel but thrive in what are considered ‘male-dominated’ professions.

How is the professional journey of women different from men and what challenges it entails?
Without generalising, life stages impact men and women differently, owing to several reasons, including the choices they make for themselves and their families. What is important here is that organizations must be sensitive to this, and in the spirit of true equity, design their policies and foster an enabling culture that supports men and women through their various life stages. This not only allows them to perform to the best of their abilities but also ensures talent retention and better engagement.

What’s the one piece of advice you want to give to your budding women professionals?
In my view, our professional and personal journeys are closely intertwined, as both serve to guide us towards achieving our complete potential. This objective is undoubtedly an exercise in perpetuity, yet I believe that is the best part. We must act as our own masters, take ownership of what defines our personal ‘best’, and then seek to raise that bar on a daily basis. This will help keep our progress continuous irrespective of whether we are engaged in chasing our purpose with passion and curiosity.

To rise as leaders, we must raise our hands whenever there exists a possibility to do more. This helps prepare us for the opportunities we truly, deeply aspire for.