Author Archives: Nischala
The regular readers of this blog know that I’ve started a new section on this blog around the topic of Women at work / working women.
Here’s the thing | Being a working woman, I regularly read on this subject – simply because it enable and equips me to appreciate and understand multi-dimensional issues, and possible solutions. I can safely say that there is a lot of literature on this subject, and a lot lot lot more is required. Many times when I read something, I wish someone had shared it with me much earlier. The thing about reading is that “timing sometimes makes all the difference“. So on this blog, I’ll be periodically sharing a round-up of articles for your reading – hoping that the timing is right – for both you and me
I’ll structure them into 3 sections
Section 1 – Worth a Read | News, Views, Opinions and Perspectives related to women at work
In work reviews, women are criticized for personality rather than performance First she studies, then she gets a job, then she performs. And lastly, you are criticized for your personality! How much better can it get. An interesting article which highlights the differences between how men and women are appraised
Women company directors: can quotas change the status quo? A Forbes article on Quotas and gender diversity language in corporate governance codes do result in a higher percentages of women directors
Gender Inequality’s Latest Victim: Flex-Time Requests Very interesting read since it highlights how flex-time requests are viewed for men and women, and how a woman’s career is impacted, even though flex-time is her crying need today.
Section 2 – Worth a Share | Resources to enable, empower and equip women in your work and beyond
Book – Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology BY Vivek Wadhwa and Farai Chideya is the voice of hundreds of great women and aims to motivate and inspire thousands more to join the innovation economy–and better the world.
Pink Petro initiative Very interesting initiative as the 1st online social media platform built by the energy sector for “women, girls and diversity advocates
Springboard An ecosystem where influencers, investors, and innovators meet to build great women-led businesses. Their 562 women-led companies have raised $6.5 billion, including 11 IPOs.
Section 3 – Worth a Thought | Writings which compel you to think, reflect and introspect
Why do you think women should work? What are the top 10 / 20 / 30 reasons? Here’s an answer
Are you a mom looking for a business idea? Here is a fantastic list of 25 ideas
Why is it so hard for working women in India? A perspective on multi-dimensional issues
Quitting your job to find your passion?An honest encounter of a working woman, the considerations / deliberations when you quit after a decade of work life
NOTE: If you think this post could enable / equip / empower another woman as she navigates her path at work and in life, please share. Thanks for reading me!
Enjoy your weekend!
If you’ve ever read or followed my blogs, you’ll know that Women at Work is a topic very close to my heart.
Why? Because I’m a woman, I work and I’d love to see more women at work finding their spot under the sun.
I dream of a tomorrow where
- The workforce includes at least 50% women by default
- Women are given “right, fair and equal” opportunities, exposure, experiences and environment to blossom and reach their true potential
- Globally, there is at least 30% representation of women in business, politics, policy, education, reforms and everywhere where it counts
- She is not “discriminated” against in any way in any phase of life (especially for her gender, physical appearance, social standing, or choices of life)
- At work, she is compensated and progressed for her knowledge, skills, competence, performance and results
- She never experiences abuse of any kind at the workplace – physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse or social abuse
- She can “truly” exercise her choices – with respect to education, choice of career and employment, choice of her life partner and the decision to be a mother ; and also have a satisfying career on her terms
- She does not face the “glass ceiling” (which exists even today for women) as a part of her professional career
- She has “true” freedom and control over her personal finances
- She believes that she can aim for the stars, and reach the sky – if she sets her mind on it
- The law of the land / policies / processes will protect her for her rights and interests; and not tilt in favor of power, position and money
I’m also at a point in my professional career where (young) women [There! I said it! - I'm now part of the older generation :) ] come to me for advice, suggestions and general career guidance – from fundamental questions to “Should I work?” to more complex questions around “Is entrepreneurship right for me?“
I generously share my perspective with the hope that it enables, empowers and equips them to make the right choices and decisions, and try to play a small part in “rightly” shaping their career trajectory
Here are a few facts I learned along the way
(1) Women at the workplace – Issues exist, and are complex – Every one of us is unique, including the woman. So there is no “universal set of problems / questions” and no “One size fits all” solution / answers. A lot depends on the women, the kind of person she is, her aspirations, her upbringing, her mental conditioning, her supporting ecosystem, her education, the kind of career choices she has made and the company she is currently employed with.
(2) It is tough for working women – in India and all over the world. So firstly, kudos to all those women who brave it out there every single day by showing up to work, and working through the day! Things will only get better from here is what I believe.
(3) Things are changing and evolving for the better; but a long way to go – It is a crucial point in time for women at the workplace. Many women are now educated, confident and aspiring to make a mark at work, but multi dimensional issues exist, and impede the career progress and growth at various points in her career path. From corporate policy, to power equations (at home and work), to legacy (of systems, people, processes, culture) and how things have always been, to general public safety, to workplace dynamics, to the era / society we are living in.. It is a complex complex complex equation.
(4) Conversations make all the difference – I’ve been through lots of good, bad and ugly experiences as a part of my professional career. Let’s face it – by law of averages, that it is how anyone’s career will be. For a long time, I stayed silent. I did not share or speak about my issues until I realized that it was the biggest disservice I was doing to myself, and the cause of women at the work place. One conversation may / may not change things. But it is a start. It can get people thinking. It can show you a new perspective to an old problem. It can open doors / possibilities which you never knew existed. And if it does not really help you directly, it will help hundreds on women somewhere down the road. And trust me, that one conversation is worth your time and their time. So speak up!
(5) Where you reside influences your decisions and impacts your choices more than you realize – As a working woman, you can’t ignore the influence of your immediate living environment on the challenges you face, the choices and decisions you make. Every country has its own legacy, history, evolution, growth story, political scenario, policies, laws, educational framework, economic growth, culture, “ways of living” and employment guidelines which influence the mind-set of the “community at large”; and this creates unique set of country-specific-issues when it comes to the topic of “Working women and the issues they face”. India is no exception.
Given that its a subject so dear to me, I’m starting a new space on this blog called Women At Work in which I aim to share observations, insights, lessons, perspective, opinions, resources and stories of / for / by women at work. This space aims to be a hub of information for women / working women / working mothers on things which can help you be productive on a daily basis, bring you a smile on a gloomy day, share information on resources that can keep you going through your career journey or which can help you navigate through office politics and power.
You’re worth it
You deserve it
You’re meant to fly..
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
And I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
BY Robert Frost
As I sign off, I hope you find your space and spot – under the sun, at the workplace and at home.
The dilemma is “To do an MBA or not”.. What better way to find an answer than by looking at this good infographic on ROI (Return of Investment) of an MBA course Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment to let me know
If you thought “(S)he loves me /loves me not” was one of the most difficult questions to answer in life, you probably got it right and wrong.
Why? Because there’s another question which is equally (if not more difficult) to answer, i.e. “Should she work or not? – especially if she is married / mother”.
This topic is much discussed and debated in almost every circle I know. No matter his / her age, almost everyone I know has a strong view, opinion and perspective on the issue – from my neighbor’s grandfather to my mother to my mother-in-law to my friends to my colleagues to my daughter to the family friends dog to the long distance uncle / aunty who saw me once as a baby…all and sundry. But of course! We live in an era where we all have freedom of thought and speech, and so literature and stories galore!
Here’s the thing…
I know what it takes for most women to answer that question and make peace with her answer.
I know what it takes for most women to share her answer with the world, and deal with all that her response entails
I know what it takes for most women to action her answer on a daily basis, and deal with all comes her way
Because I’ve been there, and done that! And like with everything else in life – It has its good, bad and ugly.
And yet, anyone who listens to my voice knows that I am a strong advocate of #WomenAtWork.
A lot of times I’m asked and ask myself “Why women should work?”
She wants to work
She loves to work
She believes in her work
Interestingly, above responses don’t get enough merit… So here’s my response on 30 more reasons
1) You earn. Financial independence and freedom can be one of the most important variables that influence the quality and quantity of a woman’s life. It can also be one of the most liberating aspects for a decent quality life and respect.
2) You learn. Learning is one of the foundational pillar to personal and professional growth and life, and sky (rather your view of the sky) is the limit to what you can learn when you work.
3) You have an identity of your own – independent of your personal relationships and associations. There’s no telling how important it is in your own self-confidence and self-worth
4) You are a better employer as almost all working women hire more help at home / on the domestic front – in terms of home-maintenance services, like driving / cooking / cleaning / ironing, etc. You provide an opportunity for more women to work by being a working woman yourself and make a significant contribution to improve the life of all your employees
5) You are a part of diverse life experiences and that enriches your own understanding of yourself, people, the world and life
6) You connect and interact with people from all walks of life / diverse backgrounds and that opens your mind, views, opinions and perspectives
7) Your general knowledge improves – just by being part of a world out of the 4-walls you observe, listen can comprehend a lot lot more
8) You appreciate the differences and nuances of the world within the 4-walls and outside the 4-walls. Trust me, this bursts your bubbles in terms of what it takes to be a working woman!
9) You understand human behavior and how the real-world really operates
10) You get to see how fair / unfair life is beyond the 4-walls – It is Kalyug for good reasons. And that changes the way you view your own life and the way you live your life
11) Your own self-esteem increases significantly – you just feel so much surer of yourself
12) Your family views you in a new light – many times, this translates into more respect and value they associate with you
13) You are better enabled, equipped and empowered to make decisions – simply because you know that you have a choice
14) You can “buy” things for yourself – yes! You’re a good prospect for (m)any businesses. You pump money into the economy and boost money circulation
15) You can be a role model to someone – I know many of my role models are everyday working women who balance it all every single day
16) You learn a lot of key “life skills”. Top among them are time management, communication, negotiation, saying NO
17) You tend to let-go of a lot of excess baggage – many times it is simply because you don’t have time to delve into the past or worry about the future
18) You can inspire someone somewhere – just by being a live example of “It is possible, you can do it”
19) You can “buy” things for others – with fewer questions, and no / few answers
20) You see life with a new lens
21) You realize the value of all that your mother and father and teachers and supporters / advocates a lot lot more
22) You value time a lot more. You recognize just how little / much there is
23) You feel more independent
24) You are in better control of your life
25) You teach your family independence / inter-dependence
26) You contribute to the world economy by being a productive contributor (in the economic world)
27) You understand and appreciate the value of money a lot more
28) You “genuinely” appreciate how life is for “him” – as he is the one who is usually working for the long haul
29) Your work will directly / indirectly play a significant part in your off-spring
30) Chances are you will leave a richer legacy (financial and otherwise) for your forthcoming generations
It does not matter what works she does
It does not matter where she works
It does not matter how she works
It does not matter how long she works
What matters is that SHE WORKS
Today, tomorrow and the day after
What matters is that her work makes a difference to her / their life
This post is dedicated to any / all women who have “worked” at some time in their life. May the tribe expand, flourish and prosper
There are some buzzwords which will not go out of fashion in the business / corporate world. “THOUGHT LEADERSHIP” is one of them. When I first heard the word more than a decade ago at the start of my professional career, I was in “awe” as the word sounded important and impressive.
My first thoughts were “Don’t we all have a zillion thoughts zooming in our minds every single day, so what qualifies for thought leadership? How can anyone demonstrate leadership with their thoughts? Who decides that it is thought leadership? How does one demonstrate thought leadership?”
With time and experience, I found these answers. Today, “Thought Leadership” is an integral part of my professional responsibilities.
And here’s the thing|
1) It is still in vogue to be associated with this “T” word or / and have it in your professional resume
2) It is still important and impressive to an individual / organization
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Thought Leadership’ was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz & Co magazine Strategy & Business, and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas which merited attention
“Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” By Michael Brenner
I think Thought Leadership is many times about asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS too. In fact many times the questions are more important than the answers – as they get one to think and provide the direction for your strategy and plans.
“Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” By Daniel Rasmus
I fully concur with this definition. The only thing is that very many times “Thought leadership” is incidental or accidental, and consequently so are the relationships which is possibly and probably not a good space / place to be in for any business.
According to a Forbes article,
“A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
“A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.”
I agree with this view. The most challenging part is to become a Thought Leader, or the big HOW? I’m not so sure if Thought Leadership always results (directly) in increased profitability. It can – provided it is marketed / positioned well, and reaches the right audience / reader.
Wikipedia says that “Thought leadership is often used as a way of increasing or creating demand for a product or service. High tech firms will often publish white papers with analysis of economic benefits of the product as a form of marketing”
Agreed! It is really about putting your voices and views in the marketplace and promoting it on multiple online / offline channels that your prospects view.
Why is Thought Leadership important today?
Simply because it is a competitive marketplace and every individual / organization has several thoughts on a periodic basis. Establishing “continuous leadership” on your thoughts is a direct testimonial to the kind of team that you have and a clear ‘market message’ that nurturing and sharing these thoughts is important to you / your team and your organization. Thought Leadership can sometimes be your one and only “key differentiators” in the GTM (Go-To-Market) Strategy. Hence it is imprative for organizations to build, nurture and demonstrate “Thought Leadership”
How to demonstrate Thought Leadership?
With your content. With you communications. With your conversations (online / offline)
Who should drive Thought Leadership?
The beauty of Thought Leadership is that it
Integrates with a SME (Subject Matter Expert)
Integrates with content and social media functions
Integrated with marketing functions
Integrated with Leadership
And so it really is a collective collaborative constructive responsibility of an individual / team / organization to showcase / demonstrate Thought Leadership over a period of time.
And lastly who determines it to be “Thought Leadership”?
This is a tricky one since it depends on who is the addressable market for your offerings / solutions / services / products and who is the (potential) target customer. What may be “Thought Leadership” to one may not be “Thought Leadership” to another. The point is that there should be an “industry / community / group” of experts who “publicly” ratify a thought as “Thought Leadership”…
Agree / Disagree? Leave a comment to let me know
First the good news..
The team at SheroesIndia wrote a post on “Must Follow Woman Influencers on Twitter” . It was a pleasant surprise to feature in that list among august company like Tanvi Gautam @tanvi_gautam , Ankita Gaba – @ankitagaba , Lakshmi Rebecca @lakshmirebecca , Kalki Koechlin @kalkikanmani , Gul Panag @GulPanag , Meeta Sengupta @Meetasengupta and Kiran Manral @KiranManral
The post starts off with “There are tons of women on Twitterati making their mark. SHEROES list down a few Indian women who are impacting the space in a massive way“. Being included as ONE among 20 Indian woman is indeed wonderful. I do follow many of them on Twitter, and I know that they are doing their bit and best to make a difference in their sphere of influence with their tweets.
Personally, this is the second time I feature in a list among Twitterati. The first one was in 2012 when Dr Tanvi Gautam create the first ‘epic list’ of 50 Indian Woman to follow on Twitter
Her list in her own words was about “A dedication it to all women thought leaders from Asia, not just from media and film, not just the corporate world but all the ones that are making a difference in their own way.”
Even today, the list is as relevant as it was 2 years back because the women from that list continue to make a difference in their own way. Some of the women who find a mention are
Kiran Bedi @thekiranbedi
Sairee Chahal @Sairee
Sania Mirza-Malik @MirzaSania
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw @kiranshaw
Sagarika Ghose @sagarikaghose
Azmi shabana @AzmiShabana
Anupama Chopra @anupamachopra
Barkha dutt @BDUTT
Jessie Paul @jessie_paul
Sucheta Dalal @suchetadalal
Rujuta Diwekar @RujutaDiwekar
Being featured amidst such amazing woman was indeed a a great honor and a humbling moment. It makes you happy, get attention (both in the real world and virtual world) and is extremely gratifying. Being in the spotlight makes me happy. Recognition is a great motivator in Social Media and in life.
Interestingly both the lists have several common names too!
But that’s not what this post is about? It is about my views on Why such lists are important? Why these women find a spot on these lists? And what it takes to be here?
So first.. Why such lists are important?
(1) They bring together in one place some awesome women so anyone can follow them, read and hear their views, opinions and perspectives on one / many subjects. I know I’ve connected with many of these women and learned immensely from their tweets / personal interactions
(2) They put ‘women’ in the spotlight and that is extremely important because it motivates, it inspires, it sets an example to more women
(3) They enable fostering networks and relationships amongst women and that is indeed a powerful force to reckon with – which can be the catalyst and harbinger for the cause and voice of many women’s issues.
Why these women find a spot on these lists?
(1) They are genuinely inspiring in what they share and do – Just follow them, and you’ll know why they’re on that list
(2) They are genuinely trying to make a difference with their words / tweets and shares on Social Media
(3) They are passionate about specific causes – And continuously support them
And what it takes to be here?
(1) Time - In today’s day and age, the most precious asset is “time”. And any serious Twitter / Social media user would know that being active on Twitter takes time and energy (which many times comes at the cost of letting-go many other things in life – specifically if you are a woman!), especially if you intend to be on Twitter for the long haul. Almost all these women are regular, active and serious Twitter users, so they are giving it time, focus and attention
(2) Willingness to share and speak up – Almost all these women are not shy to honestly share their life experiences, personal stories of success or failure, views, opinions, perspectives on one / many issues. So they speak up and share when given the opportunity, and that only helps the cause of women in terms of inspiration and bringing to the fore-front many critical and real issues
(3) Positivity - Again almost all these women are extremely positive, optimistic and hopeful (most of the times) while being conscious of the realities of today – especially in the context of women’s issues, empowerment and endowment
(4) Value - At the end of the day, Twitter is a free social media platform. While being free to use, any Twitter user has complete freedom to choose whom he / she will Follow / Unfollow. So your tweets should be of “value” to anyone who is reading, and almost all these women continuously share valuable content / tweets
And yes, before I forget another pleasant surprise came my way a few days back. The kind folks at Fempowerment Awards
@FempowermentMC Femspiration sent my way a #FemTribute .
As I sign-off, I’d like to say Thank you to all those who create these lists, and to all the women who continue to make a difference in their own way , in their own sphere of influence!
What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…