Building an Early Foundation:
My mother was my role model and my inspiration. 50 years back, when there were hardly any working women, she was the Principal of her school and also an excellent mother. Both my parents instilled in me the desire to succeed and make a difference in this world. I was always encouraged to have a career and be independent. Honesty, fairness, equality and integrity were values which were deeply ingrained in me and they continue to be the guiding lights in my journey towards being a DE & I champion. I believe that the 3 E’s – Education, Employment & Equal Opportunity are what will usher in an equitable world for women and all of us must contribute towards making this world a better place for our future generations.
Beyond the Barricades:
Just as we all are work in progress, failure is nothing but success in progress. It is better to have failed and learnt than never to have tried at all. We cannot learn how to swim by standing at the edge of the water and wondering whether to jump in. In life and career, you cannot succeed by being a mere spectator. Plunge in, take risks, learn, fail, try again – it will only make you stronger and better. Action alone can conquer your fear of failure and propel you towards your goals. I believe Failure is not an indictment or a reflection of your weakness. You can always reframe failure as a path to grow and transform into the highest version of yourself. When you don’t allow your failures to define or destroy you, your self - belief spurs you towards greater success.
Defining D&I – Why is it important in the Workplace:
Though there has been fair progress towards Diversity & Inclusion, we have a long way to go. As per the World Economic Forum’s gender Gap report, it will take another 136 years before we close the global gender gap. Covid has only amplified pre-existing gaps and women have borne the burden disproportionately due to job losses, challenges due to inadequate health & child care support and increased domestic work.
In order to ensure that we have more women in the workforce and as Leaders, D&I has to be a part of the DNA of the organisation with complete commitment from the senior management. Beyond metrics & measures, it has to percolate from the top to be inculcated in the core values of an organisation. It also makes business sense as higher representation of women in the C suite leads to 34 % higher returns to shareholders.
Much can be done in
this regard like (i) Setting, Measuring & tracking D & I goals (ii) Gender
bias & sensitisation workshops (iii) Educate & Encourage employees to adopt
gender neutral language right from JDs for hiring to the boardroom (iv) Equitable
work policies including child care support & flexible time/WFH (v) Regular
DEI audits to enable design of a progressive Diversity Strategy (vi) Provide
women employees with mentors & sponsors to accelerate their progress
towards Leadership roles.
Enabling Women with SalesWomentoring:
SalesWomentoring is India’s first community Inspiring Women to Succeed at Selling. We address a threefold problem: - Lack of a talented pipeline of women in sales; Very few women in sales leadership roles (15%); Women entrepreneurs and solopreneurs are not confident about “selling” and “negotiating”.
The solution: Our network of sales experts and leadership coaches encourages women to become confident sellers through our upskilling webinars, specially curated sales boot camps/workshops, digital content, podcasts and interviews with inspiring women leaders, one on one mentoring sessions and inclusive networking forum. We also work with partners to increase the available talent pool and provide enriching career progression opportunities.
SalesWomentoring was founded with the purpose of providing an eco-system to enable 1 million women to Sell with Confidence & Lead with Conviction. We enable, encourage & energise women to excel at Selling through our unique blend of experiential learning, sharing & knowledge transfer through storytelling and life journeys. Our team of 30 + amazing WoMentors draw on their Sales & coaching expertise to transform the Sales journey of our members and accelerate their progress towards Excellence in Selling.
Sources of Powerful Lessons:
My parents were my first mentors. My father always encouraged me to speak my mind and share my opinions without fear of judgement. My mother was my earliest role model.
In my early career, I had a female mentor who showed me what “tough love” was. No criticism for failure but tough deadlines & lessons which I will remember for a lifetime.
In my later years in Banking Sales, I was lucky to have Mentors who believed that I had what it took to be successful in Sales, when there were “no women” in Sales at that time in our Bank. The first of these Managers entrusted me with the responsibility of being the first woman in sales in South India and we grew the salary account book by over 10 times within 2 years. Though there are many instances of pregnancy discrimination where women are denied promotions during pregnancy, I was promoted to Branch Manager in the year that my daughter was born and my branch went on to become the fastest to cross the 100 crore INR deposits benchmark. I was also the first “salesperson” to head a bank branch, a responsibility I was entrusted by my second mentor.
It takes just one opportunity & one person to make a difference to a person’s Life and these mentors were “that person” for me – they reposed their faith in me. They did not treat me differently because I was a woman and believed that success is a function of ability rather than gender.
Advocating Positive Ageing:
It is believed that women over 50 must become wallflowers and confine themselves to a staid existence at home or at work. That we need to choose accommodation over ambition; compromise over conviction. That we must subsume our desires to that of our families and accept the status quo.
As a positive aging advocate, I believe women over 50 are as accomplished as anyone else and hence must live to their fullest potential. I don’t believe age is a barrier to learning or taking on new challenges to evolve into the best version of yourself. I founded my consulting firm at 51, learnt how to drive after 50 and founded SalesWomentoring at 52. I am now learning vocal music and how to make Instagram reels. I would like to be a lifelong learner and a mentor to women.
I made a shift towards an entrepreneurial career path after 3 decades in the corporate world as I wanted to work towards creating & multiplying impact while combating the gender biases that traditionally dominate the complex hierarchy of the world women live & work in. Our community - SalesWomentoring works towards amplifying the collective voice of women to create transformational change both in the entrepreneurial & corporate world. The wealth of experience & wisdom that we carry with us as we grow older, can positively impact and change many lives.
That is why I would urge all women (over & under 50) to use their voices to redefine their present and their choices to reinvent their future. My message to all women is that age, gender and circumstances should not limit us. It is our responsibility to make the world a better place for our sons & daughters and we must collectively work towards that goal.
Beyond boundaries & biases, beyond doubt & defeat, there lies an
equal world. The choice is ours- Take action today to change the gender
equation or wait- for the world to change!