The most coveted stilettos are those that are used to shatter the glass ceiling. The inherent qualities of a woman and the drive of an achiever when combined can move mountains. And a tonne of research reports have shown that women heading a workplace leads to a work environment of empathy and collaboration. But they bring much more to the table.
Hence, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Reliance Industries held a contest to hear what people within the organisation think about women in leadership. From the many entries we received, what stood out the most were the essays shared by Chaitali Pandya, Srinandani N, and Viraj Baxi. Why? They were heartfelt, inspiring, and made us proud to be women. Here’s what our winners had to say:
Women In Leadership, By Chaitali PandyaWe, the Women, perhaps and arguably are the most marvellous creation on this planet. We, the women, who are bestowed upon responsibilities of mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend, confidante, have been chosen and given the right to give birth.
We, the women, since ages are being downtrodden, crushed, looked down upon, and were supposed to deal with the household chores confining ourselves inside the four walls, have shown this world that if we are given equal opportunity, we can do wonders!
It's ironic that we have to ask for inclusion of women in leadership. In fact, it's ironic that we have to even talk about inclusion of half of our population!
According to a recent survey during one of the biggest pandemic this world has ever seen, majority of employees were happy with the way the situation was handled in firms run by women leaders.
Also, in countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan were one of the very few countries that handled the pandemic much better than others. The point is these countries have women heading their governments.
We the women have changed the way this world has been and have given great contribution in the way history has unfolded.
Can we imagine our revolt of 1857 without the sacrifice of Rani Laxmibai?
Can we imagine humanity and care without the name of Mother Teresa?
Can we imagine the India we are in today without our Ex-Prime minister Indira Gandhi?
Can we imagine the definition of ultimate sacrifice anything other than what was done by Neerja Bhanot, airhostess in the hijacked Pan-Am flight?
Can we imagine our dreams to touch the skies and beyond without the likes of Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams?
Can we imagine our representation and kudos in Olympics without the likes of Sprinter PT Usha, Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari, Shuttler PV Sindhu & Saina Nehwal, Tennis Sensation Sania Mirza, Boxing star Mary Kom, Wrestling stars Geeta Babita and Sakshi?
Shakuntala Devi, the human computer, Chhavi Rajawat, First women Sarpanch with an MBA degree, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson of SBI, Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico and last but not the least every Indian mother.
Noble prize laureate Esther Duflo conducted a study on the progress of gram panchayats whose Pradhans were women who are much better in policy implementation.
Interestingly, these women leaders are still very much engaged in their personal lives as mother, wives and in laws in majority on scenarios. They run on a very fine balance of managing millions of dollars and millions of expectations.
Time and again studies and research papers published have emphasised on not only inclusion of women on all fronts but treating them equal to men in all avenues is not only good for women but society and, by extension, nation as whole.
I Am A Woman, By Srinandini NI am a woman, I am powerful.
Over the years, I have seen myself rise over prejudice, and the challenges on the way has only pushed me to aim higher. I strive to progress in my own career, while pushing my subordinates to push harder. It is safe to say that the climb to the top of the ladder for a woman is very different than it is for a man. I am a manager, but I am also a wife to my husband and a mother to my son. I am not complaining, instead I feel utmost grateful that the creator has trusted me with the power to nourish and nurture.
The field of Oil and Gas has never had many women. This is changing, but since the work conditions are extremely challenging, the change is slow; steady, but slow. This year, I went offshore to work on the execution of a project and could only return after two whole months. I was the only woman onboard, with about 120 other men from all around the world. Being the Client, I had numerous responsibilities and had to oversee a wide range of operations. Supervising, and keeping a team this huge and this diverse is a challenge, and I am proud to say that I took that bull by the horns. This entailed being available to oversee the operations round the clock, while sneaking in a couple of hours of sleep if the work permits. In addition to that, I was always connected to the office, working on the engineering of another project. Managing time and resources to give cent percent is tricky and required a lot of patience to master, but again, I succeeded. The higher management believed in me, and I delivered. All the subsea installations were done successfully, post which I went onshore to head home.
All this while, I was also a wife and a mother. Limited internet and no cell coverage meant that contacting my family was hard, but even with internet constraints and hectic work schedule, I did the duties to my family. My boys are the light of my eyes, and I helped them coordinate all the while. Afterall, without their love and immense support, it would have been impossible indeed. During the installation campaign, I was also training a subordinate, helping him understand the operations and imparting my knowledge. A true leader not only aims for the top, but also cares about the subordinates and spends time and energy on them. We indeed should move forward, but we must move forward together.
I am a woman, I empower.
Thoughts, By Viraj BaxiWhen we hear or talk about women leaders, certain names from the worlds of business, politics, science, arts and sports immediately come to mind, and rightfully so. These women breached new frontiers in their chosen fields and their journeys are a beacon of inspiration not only for other women, but for people everywhere. However, to paraphrase a popular maxim, behind every successful woman are several other women – unsung heroines who have inspired, fought and survived behind the scenes. Their names do not feature among the Fortune 500 CEOs nor are they the recipients of a Nobel, but their contribution to the progress of society and women in society is by no means insignificant. They are all around us – whether it is the unlettered household help who works extra hours so that her children can escape her fate or the small town school teacher who teaches her students that they are limited only by their imagination or my own mother, whose faith in me does not waver even on days I do not believe in myself. Millions of women. Nameless. Faceless. And yet, each one of them a leader in the truest sense of the word, because she did the one thing that great leadership ultimately boils down to – she created more leaders.
Today, I and some other women like me, are fortunate enough to have the freedom to pursue our highest ambitions, professionally and personally. This freedom is but the culmination of the efforts and sacrifices, courage and encouragement of our mothers, grandmothers and all the other women before us, who envisioned a better way of life, and strove against the status quo to make it a reality. And this, to me, defines leadership – the vision to see beyond limitations and the commitment to better not only your own life but also the lives of those around you, after you. As we continue to take up multiple roles in life, we will have several small and big opportunities that allow us to make a difference. Let us then ensure that we lead from the front in each one of them, and do our very best to leave things a bit better than they were when we first found them. On that note, here is wishing all the women leaders a very happy women’s day – may we know them, may we raise them, may we be them!