The Roller Coaster Ride Of A Working Woman

The challenges, choices and role of workplace culture.

We are the brightest, happiest and most buoyant at the dawn of our career; full of fervor to move forward, achieve more and create a rightful future for ourselves. However, as we embark on this journey, we sometimes do not foresee the difficult choices that stand ahead of us in our professional and personal lives. Moreover, these junctures of decision-making just keep coming. They come with every life changing event whether it is moving to a new city for work, marriage or building and nourishing a family. Last but not the least, are the challenges related to growing up the ladder.

Along with the decision-making, a working woman is most of the times in the act of balancing and gratifying all.  The guilt of missing out on an important family event, not being there on the sports day of the child because of business travel or not attending to elderly in the family when they need you most often plays on the mind pushing us to ask if it’s all worth it. Missing on that important client meeting attending to a sick child at home or loosing on a customer  just because one couldn’t travel to meet them in person due to family priorities, raises self-doubt about setbacks in professional growth. These are universal problems and we see many successful women like Indra Nooyi talking about them.

Mind you, there is a section that may not see these as major issues or deal with these with ease or are on the other side of these challenges. This section is growing fast. However, in some cases, they may experience stagnancy in the career at some stage.

In my role, it is my responsibility to not only find the underlying causes of these issues but also find solutions to as many I can. I get to interact with many talented individuals who are an asset to the company. The simpler way out is to replace what is gone but the smarter approach is to build on and nourish what you have. So, what is the solution?

Yes, the family members need to be supportive. More importantly, what role can a strong culture and ethos of an organization play to prevent this talent loss from the industry?

What if the parents of a young woman can visit their daughter’s office anytime and feel assured of the safe workplace that she so fondly relishes. They share a cup of tea with her friends and colleagues in the lively cafeteria and see her comfortably and confidently mingling with them, sharing a joke or two and take back home these fond memories of a proud daughter.

I so vividly recall a promising young lady wanting to resign and move on because she was getting married to an Indian Airforce pilot. She had accepted the fact of giving up on her career to build a new life with her soulmate. The choice was obvious for her and no persuasion would have helped. However, teleworking turned out to be a blessing. We are talking about 2014, way ahead of the current forced work from home. She could continue with her passion to code while enjoying her new life.

Another typical challenge is the maternity break. Can we provide good medical care to women and their new borns without having to worry about financial support? Can we provide flexible work time options, part time work arrangements for new mothers and slowly onboard them into the regular work environment? Us assisting her with upskilling during these break keeps the bond strong as ever during her most cherished milestone of becoming a mother. She will always recall this as the most beautiful time of her life if we, as organization, understand our role as a true well-wisher and welcome her back with same zest and equality.

As discussed earlier, a section faces challenges moving up the ladder. We have found that right mentors is part of the solution. It could be other successful woman leaders or otherwise. Someone who has a holistic perspective, who understands the personality, strengths, weaknesses and can discuss the right choices. A woman leader, like others, has to upskill herself all the time. There are so many role models around who have done it successfully.

Believe me, implementing all these enabling options are both in the interest of the organization and not very hard to do.

These are softer aspects. You can have policies but the spirit is more important than the policy. Then, how do you know you are doing well? Institutions like Working Mother and AVTAR help us evaluate and benchmark ourselves on our work policies, benefits programmes, advancement opportunities and safe environment for our women colleagues. Yes, winning the award is satisfactory but the process of continuous improvement is what matters more. As an industry, we have a long way to go but we are making the right moves for sure. Soon, all the tough challenges and decisions I talked about will become easier to overcome.

Author

Rachna Sirohi | Senior Manager – HR

As Senior Manager HR for GS Lab, Rachna is responsible for managing complete lifecycle of all employees post onboarding with key focus on employee engagement, retention, performance management, total rewards, growth and OD interventions. She also anchors diversity and inclusion initiatives in the organization in her role as the Diversity Champion.