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    WomenSpeak by Amit Aggarwal

  • Q: What does it mean for men to partner in women leadership?

    A: Men form a significant part of the women leadership equation. Being the majority in most of the organizations, they have to partner in building leaders, period. When the question comes specifically in reference to women, they have to be self -aware, recognize their biases and acknowledge how those can play out in decision making at the time of hiring or promoting. Every leader has to move from unconscious incompetence (you don’t know what do you don’t know) to conscious incompetence to conscious competence. With application and practice, this journey changes mind sets and behaviours.

    Q: How does this play out in real situations?

    A: To take an example, in the Genpact sponsorship program, each of the CEOs DRs was asked to sponsor 1-2 women (2-3 levels down). Identifying those women, building rapport, getting to know them, was an intensive, though very fulfilling effort for most. Besides the women getting benefited by this program, the sponsors also were. They recognized the challenges a working women faced in terms of managing both home and work. This was an eye opener for some of the sponsors, as they did not have working spouses and hence were not aware of the tribulations working women went through; the baggage they carried to work; their many constraints in networking, traveling, or in seeking opportunities.

    Q: What kind of skills are required to be inclusive?

    A: In general, any leader should demonstrate emotional maturity, listening, curiosity, and collaborative skills. Emotional maturity is about being conscious of the time, place, and the audience; being self- aware and sensitive to others. Listening- most of us have grown up talking a lot; I will say and you will do. A good leader is the one who listens, who allows the other person to share his/ her point of view. Listen so you can find the hidden gold in the individual. Curiosity- extent to which you are open minded. Be curious, explore alternatives, challenge the no and cannot. Collaboration- work together to drive results rather than engage in power play that foster conflicts.

    Q: What are some of the concrete skills men can apply?

    A: These include being sensitive to the audience or women in this case, being aware of self- biases, being attuned to the other person’s comfort or discomfort in your presence, the kind of conversation one can have and not, and encouraging others to share their point of view. Example: Since women are not able to stay back in the evenings for networking, switch to networking over morning coffees; if women are quiet during meetings, seek them out into the conversations.

    Q: How can men be made aware of working women's challenges?

    A: Interweave gender related conversations into the general leadership programs. Convert women only programs to include all, make them co-ed. Coach and mentor men on inclusivity. Conduct bias related workshops. Interject a healthy spirit of competition on this initiative so men and teams feel the pride in improving their metrics. Two, focus on communication. Show the outcomes of teams with women vs without. Benchmark your own BUs to demonstrate this relationship. Nominate a champion in every BU and pick the D&I leader from the business (and not HR) that has the most work ahead of him in this space. To design solutions, they all have to know the problem first! Three, introduce accountability at the top level. Make this a part of the Leadership scorecard impacting every leader’s bonus and other perks. Define goals for specific teams- Recruitment for example. Depends where the pocket of opportunity exists. Give them a target to achieve.

    Q: Personal changes you made in your leadership?

    A: I am more conscious and aware of balance and fairness. I am also mindful that everyone has a story behind and are not simply slacking. I do more conversations, listen to people and understand them. I make a conscious effort to figure out where people are in their career paths and how they are executing those. At a personal level, I am very involved at the home front.