At the launch of MAKERSIndia on October 4, 2019, in New Delhi, Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor of CNBC-TV18, said: “We need men to stand behind women. But, more importantly, we need women to stand behind women, and women to stand behind more successful women.”
Across classes, castes, regions, and religions, women face a myriad of problems; but, the common factor is the discrimination they face, especially in comparison to their male counterparts. And, this is exactly why women empowerment is impossible without women empowering each other.
It goes beyond friends shopping together or discussing matters of the heart. In India, where women form just 27 percent of the organised workforce, the act of women empowering each other should begin at the workplace.
Although quite a few corporates are actively developing policies on diversity and inclusion, the implementation and active pursuit of these values are poor.
But, do we need to wait for an organised entity to take care of our women colleagues? Let’s care for each other as individuals. Your colleagues may not be your lifelong friends; but, the culture you can help mould, one day at a time, can help generations to come.
The following are a few ways in which women can empower each other at the workplace.
Promote each other’s work
Helping each other climb the ladder of professional achievement is the best camaraderie to come out of office life. Sharing on social media or through office email or WhatsApp groups your colleague’s achievements are the most honest and easy ways to give someone a boost. It need not always be about telling others; just a congratulatory text message on achieving a target or a pat on the back for meeting deadlines can help build a healthy, long-lasting equation with your woman colleague.
Show the solidarity
Supporting and showing that support openly for someone in trouble or otherwise is a very important aspect of empowering each other. Women often face a zillion problems at workplaces – including sexual harassment from male colleagues, unequal pay, maternity leave-related issues, and even discrimination in promotion. However, an office space where women have each other’s back will be forced to be fair and just on these issues. For, more often than not, one woman’s problem will soon become others’ too. United is the only way women can stand in male-dominated boardrooms.
Share your knowledge and skills
Whether you are a knowledge professional like an analyst or a skilled one like a designer, make it a point to share your wisdom with others. For younger women, especially those new to the workforce, mentoring by senior female professionals will be a great leg-up. Remember, Indian women professionals earn 19 percent less than their male counterparts for equal work. Any extra skill a woman can achieve improves her chances for equal pay, and together women can bring about a change. It could be as simple as a sales executive picking up skills in basic graphic designing or a techie learning marketing tricks.
Maintain open communication
Women who maintain open communication channels and transparency at work stand a better chance of developing strong, long-lasting bonds. Being approachable is important, especially for those women at the higher ranks, as most younger female professionals shy away from asking for help. To help deal with each other’s insecurities, share your past experiences and the lessons you have learnt from your mistakes. Envy and playing office politics to pull others down won’t get anyone anywhere. Instead, displaying positivity will make you a better professional and a better asset to an employer.
No book or search engine is going to tell you what you need to do to excel in a particular market or which profile you will be a perfect fit for. This is where networking is significant; you need to pick the brains of people better than you for figuring the best career moves. As women and men socialise in different ways, connecting your female colleagues to important people whom you know closely will help them immensely. These conversations—which may happen over a cup of coffee—could be life-changing, as individuals grow more powerful with their networks.