The W Suite | Indian Cos need to unfollow prejudiced model of ops: Divya Jain

Adgully’s ‘The W-Suite’ series has been featuring interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more. 

Divya Jain is the Founder and CEO of Safeducate. As a social entrepreneur, she has always been passionate about human development and has been working towards providing a solution through various initiatives like skill development, entrepreneurship training, health and hygiene of the Indian youth for the past 11 years. 

She established Safeducate with a vision to improve the quality of the workforce of logistics industry and also to provide livelihood through skill training. Jain has also co-authored a coffee table book, ‘Horn Please – Trucking in India’, to raise awareness and change the perception of trucking and truck drivers in India. The book was recognised by Limca Book of Records 2016 and has received a lot of appreciation from people from all walks of life. Apart from that, Jain is a co-founder of ST.ART, a not-for-profit organisation that works in the space of spreading Art Awareness and Education. 

A management graduate from University of Cambridge, UK, a bachelor’s degree holder in economics from Delhi University and an LLB degree holder from the University of London, Jain is a proud recipient of ‘Woman leader of the Year,’ ‘Businesswoman of the year’ and ‘Excellence award for Contribution to SCM & Logistics Education’ awards by the CII, FICCI and ET, respectively. 

How would you define today’s woman leader?
Women today are ready to break the boundaries. They are people-oriented, expressive, emotionally prevalent, make teamwork more natural, possess an innate capacity to multi task, and much more prone to change. Clearly, they take their leadership positions as a challenge and come up with the best and innovative solutions. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
To emerge successful in this male-dominated business world, it is necessary for a woman leader to stay true to her words and commitments. This can in building a valuable and trusted relationship with people, from the employees that work under you to the partners and investors you bring in to the customers you serve. 

Entrepreneurship can be tough and come with endless uncertainties. For the women who also shoulder domestic and family responsibilities, besides facing career slowdown due to childbirth and raising infants, the going gets tough. To overcome such hurdles and succeed in building businesses, they must be resilient and persistent. 

The best leaders today are those who remain curious and open to listening, learning and adapting. By listening, one can envision changes on the way for the business, which are vital, especially in this tech-driven era. Being a visionary leader demands the urge to spot new trends and changes, so they can position their companies to adapt and to get hold of the opportunities that may arise. This will help women leaders instaying competitive and making the best business decisions. 

Despite the qualifications, aptitude and experience, why do you think we don’t see the expected number of women business leaders, especially when it comes to boardroom decision-making?
Women enter the workforce in pursuit of growth and development using their skills and knowledge. However, with the growth in responsibilities their strategies of staying in that work becomes short-lived as they have to deal with more and different kind of stressful situations than men do and sometimes face a cultural environment that is poles apart from the other gender. 

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?
Bringing gender parity in leadership role should be long-term in any organisation and Indian corporates must model every policy to meet that objective. Corporate houses must make a conscious effort to foster talented women employees who show signs of leadership from an early stage. Despite being talented some women are unable to transition to managerial positions due to the existence of organisational bias and lack of empathy for women employees opting to have children. It’s a sad situation that still occurs in some organisation of the country. The Indian corporates need to unfollow the prejudiced model of operations and introduce greater flexibility and a more compassionate approach to make workplaces more co-operative for women. 

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?

  • Set your targets
  • Surround yourself with people who trigger your confidence levels
  • Be open to feedback and optimise those channels to maximise learning
  • Ditch modesty when it comes to goals and aim big
  • Don’t let failure break you. Instead, embrace your mistakes and turn them into learning experiences

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
The disparity in gender-based pay still exists in many Indian corporate houses. It’s a common mindset that women are submissive and should be paid enough to simply suffice her shopping needs. The most effective way of addressing it will be when women start taking charge of their own money. They must not compromise on their salary, start taking financial decisions and define their money goals and investment ideas. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
Well, let’s not bring the idea of comparison here once again. While it is true that women are more experienced when it comes to being around people emotionally and have a better understanding of complex business problems and solutions, but many male leaders possess similar qualities and are performing great leadership feats. I believe it all depends on individuals and how they leverage their experiences. 

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

  • Never overthink and over plan your life!
  • Life is not what is given to you, it is truly what you make of it
  • Problems faced are just lessons that you need to learn
  • If you have an idea, make it happen
  • Do what you love and if you can’t then start loving what you do

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?
I belong to a business family and my husband’s family too runs a transport and logistics company. That should explain it all. I am glad and lucky to have extremely supportive parents, in-laws and a caring husband who has always encouraged my business endeavours. 

How prevalent are instances of sexual harassment in work places in India? What should the industry collectively do to tackle such a serious issue?
Sexual harassment is still a harsh reality at many workplaces in India, however, times are changing as people are now being vocal about it and taking actions. I am impressed with the fact that how every company is now coming forward with a strict zero tolerance policy towards any harassment issues at work.

Meanwhile, being part of this corporate ecosystem, we must make efforts to create more awareness about it through open discussions, remove the taboo associated with harassment and make the complaint procedure easy for every individual.


Also Read:

The W Suite | Geeta Suthar’s 5 lessons in effectiveness of women leaders

The W Suite | “Leadership development in women is more needed than ever”


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