#ChooseToChallenge: Women leaders speak on International Women’s Day

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On International Women’s Day, we celebrate women from all walks of life! The modern Indian woman is a powerhouse – fighting for her rights and proudly flaunting the many other facets of her personality. She is making her mark in business, science & technology, politics, sports, the arts, and in society as a whole.

In this age of globalization, India has seen the rise and triumph of women leaders who have pushed the boundaries and helped to strengthen the workforce by creating inclusive environments. It is heartening to see that this growth is not just limited to women in metros. Even rural and semi-urban entrepreneurs are taking giant leaps for womankind, and encouraging their peers to follow their footsteps.

Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, Mpower

Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, MpowerOver the last year in particular, there’s no denying that the pandemic has been difficult for many, and the pressures have been compounded for women.

It is apparent that socio-economic vulnerability combined with the control of their sexuality, societal pressure, harassment or violence etc. gravely impact both their mental and physical health.

On our 1 on 1 helpline we have received calls from women across India struggling with relationship issues, anxiety, depression due to loneliness and self-esteem issues. As a nation, until we come together to create awareness and address the issues women face, only then will we able to create an environment where women can thrive.

The change needs to begin with each one of us. We need to respect ourselves and not be apologetic about who we are and what we want. While we have come a long way in these last few years, we still have an even longer way to go. This journey has only begun.

Jyotsna Uttamchandani, Executive Director, Syska Group

Jyotsna Uttamchandani, Executive Director, Syska GroupDuring the pandemic, the world witnessed that countries which had women in the leadership positions were in a much better shape than the rest. Women have time and again proven that they are focused on continuously finding solutions for challenging situations.

The world wants change and this could definitely be a century where equality can be established in every field. A big example that showcased a country breaking the etch was when Kamala Harris became the first woman Vice President of the United States.

It is key that in this post pandemic world, we not only identify but accept the problems of patriarchy. We need a more humane and rational approach. Most importantly women always believe in working in a sort of comradeship. Be it healthcare, hospitality, politicians, innovators, women have been front liners.

It is time we must discard the gender stereotypes, empower and let women take the lead towards this unrivaled gridlock. As Michelle Obama says, “there is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” Wishing All Women a Happy Women’s Day. May you all continue to be strong, and keep your heels and head high!

Juhi Mishra, Manager, HR Business Partner-India, Randstad RiseSmart

For long women have been major contributors in corporate success stories, more often than not, while working behind the scenes. In a COVID-19 world where almost everything that we know and accepted as normal, has changed, there is a heightened need for this to be reflected in the boardroom as well.

The unfortunate reality is that in India, we have only about 17% representation among women in board positions. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day – ChooseToChallenge, is a call to action to recognise and celebrate women for their resilience and achievements. It is also a reminder to women that they have the power to choose to challenge social norms and shape a more equal future.

Within organisations, women have already cemented their position as thinkers, doers, and as forces to reckon with. Now, the time has come to take this to next level; for organisations to create an even playing field, and give women professionals an environment which they can thrive in.

Randstad RiseSmart is a firm believer in creating an inclusive and diverse culture where our employees enjoy equal opportunities, and can thrive to reach and exceed their goals. Organizations need to take a proactive stance to create an inclusive and respectful workplace.

The effort has to be two pronged – allow ease of entry and provide equal opportunities for development. In the long run, such measures will create a positive environment for mutual growth. Additionally, it will also strengthen the organization’s reputation as an employer of choice, to attract and retain the right talent, and build a diverse workforce that’s future-ready.

Aditi Shrivastava, Co-founder, Pocket Aces

Aditi Shrivastava, Co-founder of Pocket AcesWomen should be celebrated every day, and their accomplishments and contributions should be recognized throughout the year. Corporate organisations both in India and globally should take the necessary steps to ensure that they groom and motivate women to take up leadership positions to help create the right balance in the workforce today.

This will encourage young girls to pursue their dreams and look up to these women leaders as role models. Encouraging women at entry levels will give them the confidence to face all the challenges they might encounter, in their quest towards building successful careers in varied sectors – corporates, sports politics, media, and more.

We are increasingly seeing brands rushing to push out Women’s Day content once every year, however messages such as women emancipation and empowerment should be an ongoing activity.

As an organisation, we strive to create content that showcases real women and their stories, while also taking steps within the enterprise to ensure workplace diversity where each employee is valued and provided an opportunity to grow irrespective of their gender. This way, we as a society will be able to build a more just and equitable society for future generations.

Manisha Raisinghani, Co-founder and CTO, LogiNext

Manisha Raisinghani2021 brought in good news with a woman led tech company going IPO. This success story was celebrated and ushers in a new age in the post covid world where we are all rooting for more women in leadership roles across the board.

Less than 10% of the S&P 500 companies have a woman CEO but that number should grow rapidly in the coming times. And this will happen by changing mindsets at a cultural level by encouraging more young women to pursue their dreams.

Technology and the internet is a great leveller because it gives access to a sea of knowledge and anyone can start a business from anywhere! At LogiNext, we have a special push to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio by the end of 2021 and we already have several women in leadership roles across the organisation. LogiNext is probably one of the most diverse high growth start up globally and we’d like to encourage more and more companies to take this route.

Lakshmi Mittra, VP and Head, Clover Academy

image-Lakshmi-Mittra-VP-and-Head-Clover-Academy-mediabrief.jpgThis year’s theme for International Women’s Day – ChooseToChallenge, is a call to action to recognize and celebrate women for their role in shaping a more democratic future, and building a gender-neutral society. Within organizations, women have already cemented their positions as innovators, thinkers and go-getters. Now, the time has come for organizations to take this contribution to the next level by introducing forward-looking policies and initiatives for women to thrive.

At the same time, women need to rise above the status quo and embrace challenges. This leads to the creation of amicable work culture that not only facilitates mutual growth but also strengthens an organization’s values and reputation, further assisting in attracting and retaining the right kind of talent and forming a diverse workforce.