Opinion

Women bring more to the table

C.P. GURNANI | Updated on March 22, 2013 Published on March 22, 2013

Gender diversity betters the return on investment by introducing fresh perspectives. (File photo for representational purpose)

Women in business are sensitive to how others feel, a key attribute in these globally stressed times.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year I was surprised to see more women representatives than ever before. Is this a changing trend, or a way to show diversity at the workplace, or just an observation between cups of hot coffee? Whatever the reason, I believe that, for an enterprise, investing in diverse leadership can give more ROI (return on investment) than investing in anything else.

The coming decade is poised to have millions of leaders entering the global economy. Does this mean chaos or a better return on investments? Returns on investing in women, perhaps? As enterprises the world over face the continuing Europe crisis and with the US still not out of recession, the time may be right to get together and work with women, and creatively and systematically synthesise information from disparate sources!

EMPATHY FACTOR

The dynamic corporate culture of today demands that employees of an enterprise understand their peers, stay supportive and empathise with one another. Many leaders (often men) struggle when it comes to showcasing the ability to understand, and being sensitive to what others feel. Women generally score high on inclusiveness and respect for others. As leaders, they are therefore more empathetic and understanding, creating an environment of strength, confidence and a global mindset.

So, is your company hiring more women? Do you send the leaders from your company for gender sensitivity training?

Scoring on ‘Diversity Surveys’ is not the benchmark for a ‘woman-friendly’ organisation; instead, ‘accountable diversity’ is. An appropriate gender mix or diversity should be an act of performance, rather than compliance.

Diversity should be the key agenda in the change management programme of an enterprise, led directly by the CEO.

Creating a 50 per cent mix of the genders in the leadership will ensure a disciplined influence and joint accountability for KPIs (key performance indicators).

This approach is likely to have more RoI than 100 sales guys working together in a non-diverse group. Think of the value of diverse minds being able to come together and ideate!

FRESH PERSPECTIVES

Managing risk is a daily affair for enterprises today. A CEO deals with the risks of a dynamic global economy, A sales head deals with stringent project costs in the market. The situation demands sustained performance while mitigating the risky situations.

Diversity at the leadership level, including the board, will, I believe, sustain such performance. Expert studies show that women directors are at ease when dealing with concerns of employees, shareholders and customers. Women are better at connecting, combining and communicating information from disparate sources, which includes their heightened intuition. This helps them to make informed decisions.

Diversity on the board offers a fresh perspective of the market scenario, which helps develop new product ideas and services. After all, 70 per cent of the purchase decisions globally are driven by women.

Passion and conviction are the two pillars that make resilient workplaces. Being passionate about what you do in your daily life in the smallest things is what differentiates the average from the extraordinary. Who better can personify passion and conviction than women? There is a small, yet significant, difference between the two genders at the workplace. It is ownership.

Ethical synthesis

When women work not just for the pay cheque at the end of the month but for the success of your organisation (read, home and office), that is when they become entrepreneur-managers.

For businesses, as in the past 24 months, the future will continue to include tighter credit, thoughtful consumer spending, greater government involvement in business affairs and a constant air of uncertainty.

For integrated consulting and technology players in particular, it is going to be more about enhancing productivity, identifying, advising and using “the IT imprint” more effectively to meet post-recessionary objectives, and embracing viable disruptive technologies that will shape the future economics of societies, enterprises and nations.

No longer is it enough to simply find new ways to “keep the lights on” at lower costs; instead, enabling ideas to expand into new markets, improving product development speed, and maximising the effectiveness of the “big ideas” through ethical and disciplined synthesis and creativity is the agenda of the future.

I believe an inclusive approach will further such an agenda and ensure a better return on investment.

(The author is CEO of Mahindra Satyam and Managing Director of Tech Mahindra.)

Published on March 22, 2013
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