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BT MPW: 'Successful women leaders don’t see themselves as women first'

BT MPW: 'Successful women leaders don’t see themselves as women first'

Suparna Mitra, CEO at watches and wearables division at Titan Company, said that the definition of diversity is all about representation.

Goyal said that the biggest factor limiting women is having to take care of children and family. Goyal said that the biggest factor limiting women is having to take care of children and family.

The 18th edition of Business Today's Most Powerful Women (MPW) listing featured 52 iconic women, 46 from India and six from overseas, who are of Indian origin. At the MPW event in Mumbai, BT celebrated their leadership, strategic skills, and influence during October 2020 to September 2021 period. On the panel 'Diversity in organisations', iconic women leaders deliberated on everything from diversity and equity to mentorship and pay parity.  

"Today there's a lot of diversity but earlier when I was studying at Yale, there was no female mentor for economics and the students went on strike. But today, women are put on board as a chair of, say, CSR. This idea of diversity that as a woman you're going to be more caring and empathetic. True diversity is for women to be aggressive if they want to," RBI MPC member Ashima Goyal said. 

"There was much more equality in the early days when we were a hunters-gatherers society. I see a big change now because of digital and new work from home and distance working," she added. 

She said that the biggest factor limiting women is having to take care of children and family. 

 

Many countries have mandated presence of a woman director on the board of a company, including India in 2013 through an amendment to the Companies Act. "A part of me did rebel when you have to mandate but you have to start somewhere," HDFC Life MD and CEO Vibha Padalkar said. 

She added that it stops becoming more than just a rubber stamp if 50 per cent of workforce is women. "All of successful women don't see themselves as women. It's how others perceive us. We see ourselves as someone who need to get done with the job at hand," she said. "It doesn't matter as long as you start off somewhere and move the needle beyond a token."

Suparna Mitra, CEO at watches and wearables division at Titan Company, said that the definition of diversity is all about representation. "You can get diversity by mandate but if you don't have a culture of inclusion then that diversity is not going to stick. It's really about culture. Diversity will bring more women in the organisation but if you don't have a culture of inclusion they will probably leave or feel undervalued," she said. 

Mitra added that larger societal challenges, biases and conditioning need to be corrected. "If you don't really work on equity, the gender issue may not get solved," she said. 

Digital advancements, remote working helping women maintain their skill set. Watch the video here

Disparity in pay is also one of the challenges that women have to face in corporate India. "Fortunately for me, pay parity hasn't been an issue. Most of the multinationals truly believe in meritocracy. I think it's also about our mindset," Parizad Sirwalla, Partner and National Head, Global Mobility Services - Tax, KPMG in India said. 

She said she has followed three Cs throughout her career -- courage, compassion and competence. 

It is also important for women leaders to decide on the future of work especially in the context of ensuring diversity. 

"Last two years have shown that you can work very effectively from anywhere. We do see that creative and innovative processes require collaborative work. That's better done in person. You can do a very good job of hybrid and balance the needs of the organisation as well as the individual," Mitra said. 

Talking about mentorship, Goyal said it helps to have someone of the same gender who's achieved a lot because young girls see greater similarities. "Ability or skills is the most important thing," she said. "Women don't have to be empathetic. Men also have to change." 

Sirwalla said that she's always had men as role models who taught her to deal less on compromise and focus more on the job at hand. "Keep the passion, remove the emotion, one of my mentors had said. And that has stayed with me," she added. 

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Published on: Mar 12, 2022, 8:11 PM IST
Posted by: Vinay Rai, Mar 12, 2022, 8:07 PM IST