More women have simultaneously dropped out of the workforce altogether: Pallavi Jha
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In conversation with Adgully, Pallavi Jha, Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India and WalchandPeopleFirst, speaks about DEI becoming a social movement beyond the corporate world, her formula for achieving work-life balance, why women need to speak up and lead by example, and more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the current market ecosystem?
The two huge up sides are that DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion) has become a social movement beyond the corporate world. Gender-diversity is a core integral part of that change. Secondly, statutory guidelines are being set (a must to have a female member on the Board of Directors) to enable greater representation to women.
Importantly, while it may be cosmetic, people are being forced to mouth politically correct language. In the long-term that will enable a genuine mind-set shift. On the other hand, even a stolid organization like the BCCI has been forced to give equal pay to women cricketers as their more famous male counterparts. But we still have a long way to go.
What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?
The big learning from the pandemic experience is that the workplace is malleable; now it can also be your home. Frankly, pushed to the brink, humanity figures out a solution. This is good for both the organizations and individuals; now they have a choice of either or, or a hybrid model. While I personally foresee the return of the office culture over the next three years, it will be naïve to believe that WFH will ever become obsolete. I see more flexibility going forward, and probably a 4-day week emerging at some point.
What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?
The simple formula for work-life balance is to recognize that one should not waste time at work on frivolous distractions and social media. Without our knowledge, we allow meaningless issues to distract us. A deadline should be respected. I would recommend switching off your social media chats while in office. And of course, realizing that your mental headspace demands that you prioritize your own personal health and family commitments above everything else.
I don’t think it is fair to say that women are better at crisis management. It is individual-specific and gender agnostic.
What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?
It is hard to bottle leadership experience in five simple mantras, but let me try:
- Be genuine
- Communicate vigorously and often
- Be a good listener and surround yourself with people who tell you the hard truths
- Think big, not small
- Be ready to fail
Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organizations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?
It is often said that empowerment is not given, it is taken. Women need to speak up, get vocal, take command and lead by example. Organizations will then respond more favourably. While it is true that that hiring numbers look better and more women are visible in the C-suite, it is still the tip of the iceberg. More women have simultaneously dropped out of the workforce altogether. So, organizations need to step up, recognizing fully that the age of stereotyping women is now history. Most can outperform men in a level-playing field.