By Sindhu Gangadharan
Throughout history women have been denied their share of voice due to their gender. But over time, through sheer grit and boldness, women have challenged this and have pushed their way to rise to the top in the society.
Several studies have proven the economic benefits that organizations and the society can reap through gender parity. A gender-equal workplace benefits employee, customers and partners, and that is why we at SAP became the first multinational IT Company to achieve the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification.
McKinsey’s The Power of Parity report, points out that India would economically benefit the most by achieving gender equality, provided we work towards a comprehensive change.
It is gratifying to observe that several women are taking up STEM education today, as these would contribute to quickly raising the levels of women employees in technology companies, which today is as low as 26 percent.
While a lot is being done by corporates to increase the share of women’s voice in their companies, women too need to step up and take challenging roles. Today, the opportunities for women to raise in the ranks in technology companies are numerous.
In my 20 years of experience with SAP, I have had many opportunities come my way -some because I put in effort to constantly enhance my skill and did not shy away from embracing challenges.
A lesson I learnt early on in my career is something that is still close to my heart. In 2001, when I moved to Germany from India, I realized that in order to break barriers and understand the culture, it was important to learn the language. Doing this helped me feel inclusive and I gained a deeper understanding of the society and the people.
I have been able to break barriers and face challenges because I believe in perseverance, setting goals and working hard to achieve them. If you forge ahead towards your aspirations, you will realize them when the time is right.
Many women acquittance who are in various stages of their career, have told me in external meetings that they notice a perceivable change in the body language, especially when they are the sole women in that meeting. My suggestion to them is that such prejudice caneasily be demolished by the value of content one brings to the table. It is therefore important for women to drive the change and take control of the narrative when faced with biases.
People in Germany used to ask if it was any different for me, growing up in India, and I always said it wasn’t. Growing up in Bengaluru, my mother had the same expectations from me that she had of my two brothers.
Women are evolving away from compartmentalization. Our focus should be to achieve a flow between all aspects of our lives. Often, I hear from women and male colleagues that an ideal work life balance is central to a successful life. I, however do not subscribe to this view. Work and family are not disjointed but integral parts of our lives. Both can be managed smoothly if one learns to prioritize work, manage time and enjoy what they do.
I would advise women to constantly keep pushing the envelope, not box themselves with small range of possibilities, but rather look to taking on bigger goals. A workplace that provides equal opportunity to everyone is not just beneficial to women but the society at large.
Technology companies today are much more open and welcoming towards women leaders. In all aspects of the society, women have driven the change and can further do this through our leadership.
(Disclaimer: The author of this article is the Senior Vice-President and MD of SAP Labs, India, and the views expressed herein are her own)