India’s women business leaders give due importance to networking: CII IWN report


The Indian Government has been working at supporting women empowerment, and in line with the same, the Prime Minister recently said that ‘nari shakti’ (woman power) is playing a pioneering role and establishing several milestones; he also mentioned that ‘women in India  are progressing in every field’. In line with this, CII Indian Women Network brought out a report on ‘Success Strategies of Women Leaders’. The report covers responses from established and successful Women Leaders (aged 50 and above), and it suggests that ‘celebrating success’ is something which larger numbers of Indian women are doing, when it comes to being in senior management positions as also being successful

The report, which was released during the CII – Indian Women Network (IWN) organized 3rd WomeNation Summit, which had the theme, ‘Celebrating Success’ in Mumbai on 05 October 2018, suggests that financial dependence  is ‘history’ among India’s women leaders, a huge majority of whom  (56.67%) reported that they plan their finances and financial futures independent of other members in the family. 38.71% took all financial decisions jointly with spouse/father/partners, and only 6.45% contributed towards family earnings and allowed their money to be managed by the spouse/father/partner.

The report says that most Women Leaders give a great deal of importance to networking.  While the most preferred modes of networking were participation in professional bodies and networking events (34.17%) and establishing collaborative relationships at work (33.79%), respondents have a rating of 7.79 out of a maximum of 10 on importance of networking.

In keeping with global trends, 42.86 per cent of Women Leaders surveyed had taken a career break, 33.33 per cent for maternity and 25 per cent for childcare, followed by 16.67 per cent for spouse relocation and the same number for sabbatical. Eldercare (8.33 per cent) was the second lowest reported reason for career break and 0% for educational reasons. 66.67 per cent of the career breaks were for 1-2 years, 2 per cent for 2-5 years and 8.33 per cent for more than 5 years. Re-entry was largely for coming back to full time jobs  (69.23 per cent) and 23.08 per cent looks for flexi-time, women friendly jobs. Only 7.69 per cent started their own business so they could be in charge of their time allocation.

The survey report reveals that ‘C-suite women’  demonstrate their authenticity with a strong preference for direct and clear communication and say it like it is, and sometimes make situational adjustments in tone and content of communication. A few avoid negativity and the least preferred style was to be indirect and use softeners and frequent smiles and nods.

The ‘Power Panel’ on ‘Celebrating Success’ had five achievers on stage sharing their experiences on women succeeding in their career – with obvious related issues which included work-life balance, the glass ceiling, issues at the work-place, gender-based pay disparity – the problems and challenges, and the probable solutions. The moderator, Ninad Karpe, Director, Aptech India, acknowledged that when it came to women in the Indian workplace, the numbers had increased – but we have some catching up to do when it comes to Asian or Global trends.

The first step for a women to be successful in her workplace, was to choose one’s life partner well, said Vibha Padalkar, MD & CEO, HDFC Life. “This being the case, you will achieve success without much heart-break,” she said. Rather than focus on ‘looking good’, she said the focus should be on how well the woman delivers at the place of work. “Don’t throw in the towel, hand in there,” she said.

The importance of networking for a women to succeed, as also the willingness to take risks at the workplace help, said Ms. Ipsita Dasgupta, President, Strategy and incubation, Star India. “Know what you want, define it, and go after it,” was her magic mantra for successful women.

Pallavi Jha, CMD, Dale Carnegie Training India termed success for women as a ‘journey’ and not a ‘destination’. She said it was not just about more women entering the workforce; but rather, an ideal situation where women take on responsible leadership roles. “Leading with passion and purpose, leading with strength and empathy, leading to create a balanced, fair and happy workplace – leading to succeed,” she said.

Mentioning the biological aspect of having a child as something that disrupted career growth, Renu Basu, Senior Vice President – Global Sales, Indian Hotels Company Ltd said it was perfectly okay to drop out and then, come back to the workplace, what was really important was the contribution one makes to the organization.

Women should define success on their own terms and seek parity with male parameters, said Richa Arora, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Products Business, Tata Chemicals Ltd. Stressing on the need for women to be more confident, she said at times she had seen successful women looking surprised at their own success.

The five women leaders discussed the subtle forms of gender bias and cultural misogyny which exist, as also the presence of glass ceilings that prevent women from reaching the top. On a positive note, most women leaders covered in the survey did not own up any significant form of sexual harassment and sexism. The aspect of women being given stereotyped women-friendly jobs was discussed, as was strategy to create ‘work-life balance’. A common thread running through the Power Panel was how women can get help and manage things by falling back on a network of family and paid help. Another way of achieving work-life balance,the panel suggested, was to have flexible work options to provide time for family, work and leisure commitments.

An overwhelming majority (90 per cent) of the Women Leaders in the report said they give time towards working for the cause of other women, by mentoring, coaching, and counseling to inspire those who need, and many initiatives taken by them to create women-friendly policies in their organizations.
Zia Mody, Founder & Managing Partner, AZB and Partners said it is a world where Men dominate, so women need to work their success stories around this reality. Not getting caught up in stereotypes as also balancing work and personal life were among the points she touched on.

Kashmira Mewawala, Chairperson CII – Indian Women Network  (IWN) – Western Region said women take on responsible leadership roles with passion and purpose, strength and empathy, leading to create a balanced, fair and happy workplace – leading to succeed. “Women Leaders having proved their mettle in the industry by climbing the ladders of success, share their experiences to guide the younger generation of women workforce and to document their success strategies,” she added.

Aneeta Madhok, Vice Chairperson, CII IWN Maharashtra Chapter and MD, open Spaces Consulting (P) Ltd who shared the survey outcome during the Summit said the survey had many respondents saying they always feel that they have given priority to family life at the cost of career. She also mentioned how the report mentions that women derive power from passion action and results, having knowledge, skills and capability, and, ability to influence others. “They do not believe that power is about enjoying position and status. Influencing others is about being a role model, causing changes without direct force, ability to impact other person’s actions and getting others to agree on a point of view and course of action,” she said.

In his concluding remarks at the end of the Power Session, Mr Ninad Karpe said that while a lot had been achieved, there were challenges that lie ahead – and he hoped that Indian women would be celebrating further achievements in the near future. Open Spaces Consulting was the Knowledge Partner for the report.



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