Women at the Workplace: Let’s Get Our Houses in Order First



Women at the Workplace: Let’s Get Our Houses in Order First

Some Reflections & Confessions

 

After witnessing  some life-changing developments in my personal and professional life recently, I began to reflect more deeply on the issues women face in the workplace and in the home. I became a first-time father last year as my working wife gave birth to the newest member of a traditional, North Indian joint business family. A few months earlier, I had joined a multinational pharmaceutical company that aspires to be one of the most gender-balanced companies in the industry. I would like to believe that these experiences have made me more sensitive towards the needs of the opposite gender, though I probably still have a long way to go.

During discussions at a recent lunch event with women colleagues of one of the most gender-balanced regional teams of the company in India, I could instantly relate to the struggles behind the delicate work-life balance they are able to maintain. The common feeling among them was that while their organisation was making many efforts to accommodate their unique requirements in different phases of their lives, the people back home still needed to get their act together — and quickly.

As I write this piece in my spare time during one of my many out-of-town work trips, back home, my wife is taking care of our baby as her organisation is kind enough to excuse her from work-related travel for a few more months till the baby becomes a little older and more independent. I wish I could have been equally understanding and pitched in more often for her at home, so that she could have added more weight to the work side of her work-life balance. To my embarrassment, one of our mutual senior ex--colleagues did point this out when I met him during another trip recently. As it turns out, one of my best friends who currently lives in the US does exactly what we should all be doing – he and his wife take turns to work only on alternate weeks and equally share the care of their two kids.

It is well-known that relatively lean periods or breaks in a woman’s work life are likely to put her at a disadvantage when compared to men and to lead to wage disparity and restricted long-term career growth prospects. While HR policies of companies most often get blamed for these problems, it is seldom acknowledged that the underlying cause actually resides in our home culture and the way we treat women there.

While my current company is encouraging employees, especially women, to voice their concerns without any hesitation, it is probably more important for women to have the courage to express their feelings to their family members. It is even more important for men to ensure that like the workplace, the home is also a place of equal opportunity for both genders. 

One of the ways companies can promote this mindset is by involving both men and women in any women empowerment initiative or, better still, by addressing this issue in a more implicit and dignified manner. It is a positive sign that women are expressing their dislike of special treatment and are often calling out these initiatives for being patronising and regressive. What gives me greater hope is that most of these suggestions come from women themselves, and we should start by listening to them earnestly, especially at home. If we get our houses in order first, I am sure more women will thrive in the workplace and that our society will become more progressive.

 

About the author:
This article is written by Manoj Grover, alumnus from PGP Class of 2014. 


 

 

 

 

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