Economy

What do Indian women really want?

Anjali Prayag Bangalore | Updated on November 17, 2017 Published on March 09, 2011

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Corporate India has been a benevolent parent bestowing its women employees with the ‘best practices' on the advice of its HR or its parent in the Western economy. But what do Indian women really want? While flexi hours is the most doled out ‘support' practice, women in India are actually looking for a ‘fair environment' to grow and succeed. They are not looking for concessions or workplace flexibility because of their gender. While they are willing to work long hours and relocate, if necessary, they say work life balance is an option that even male colleagues enjoy.

Fair practices

Women only demand fair practices in role delegation and appraisals and corporates will have to sensitise themselves towards their female workforce, says Ms Mitali Srivastava, Associate Vice-President, Strategic Planning, DDB India. She argues that the “woman is expected to be a superwoman and is judged more harshly compared to men.”

Women have come a long way from the time when they refused projects involving relocation or long working hours. Ms Vidya Rajarao, Leader Forensic Services, PwC India, says expectations of women leaders from their workplace are not very different from that of their male counterparts. “Companies should provide opportunities to maximise employee professional knowledge and upgrade their skills, apply their knowledge and skills to challenging situations, have an open and trusting environment.”

Ms Purnima Kumar, HR Lead, BPO - NCR Region, Accenture India, promises to explore any options with an open mind, adding that offering interesting career roles and opportunities will continue to be her primary expectation from her organisation.

Women ambitious

There's no doubt that women are as ambitious as their male counterparts. Ms Sunita Cherian, General Manager, Talent Engagement and Development at Wipro Technologies, points out that the female workforce today expects to share responsibilities with male colleagues at every level. Agrees Ms Alka Sharma, Head, Corporate Communications, Yahoo! India, “Women employees are quite alike their male counterparts when it comes to aspirations from their job. They aim to grow within their role and organisation and are ready to work hard by exceeding performance expectations and demonstrating expertise.”

A recent Mercer Women's Leadership Development Survey of 200 respondents across the APAC region pointed out to the top three factors preventing women in their organisations' leadership talent pools from advancing to the next level as work-life balance (41 per cent) followed by willingness to relocate as a leading factor (36 per cent) and lack of executive sponsor (31 per cent).

Quality of life

In today's day and age, workplace flexibility is no longer just about women and child care, point out Indian women executives. Rather, it is more about enhancing the quality of life for all employees. Ms Rachna Aggarwal, CEO of Indus League Clothing, agrees that the work-life balance is an expectation that more men and women look for from a workplace. “I have several of my male colleagues who look for flexibility of work because his child or mother is sick,” she says.

As Ms Ayesha Sultana, Head of Program, 24/7 Customer, says that if there are no preconceived notions about women in corporate sector, the pressure on women can be reduced and therefore better output can be expected. Ms Srivastava has a bit of advice for corporate India, “An important part of work orientation for men should be to know how to treat and handle women in their professional space. Something that even older men seem to struggle with in most corporates.”

Published on March 09, 2011
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