Paridhi Khaitan, Managing Director, ProTeen

Paridhi heads the ProTeen business with a focus on its global product vision, go-to-marketing strategy and  B2C and B2B2C revenue channels. Paridhi has led the spin-out of the ProTeen research and product  development initiative inside the UNIDEL group to build a company that is changing the way young adults  make academic and career choices.  Paridhi has a decade of experience spanning software product development, marketing and strategy  across diverse sectors like Information Technology, Manufacturing, Automotive and Retail. Before joining  ProTeen, Paridhi worked with global organizations like Infosys and Cummins. Paridhi holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Institute of Technology &  Management (ITM) and an MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Centre for Management & HR Development.

 

The modern world has evolved through continuous changes and developments over the years. With every iteration, we left behind what is obsolete or unessential, and thereby, stepped into a better world. Among all the social, economic, and tech advancements, women’s empowerment has been one of the most significant and necessary upgrades for the 21st century. Business leaders, self-sustained entrepreneurs, Nobel laureates, and world leaders – the modern woman is responsible for vital contributions in most industries and fields. While their growth across the corporate ladder has been slow and difficult, women leaders are increasingly making their presence and talent known on the global stage. 

Women and leadership in the workforce

As of 2019, women accounted for 47.7% of the global workforce. In the Indian corporate world , women occupy 17% of board positions mainly because of mandated regulations, but in reality only 11% are occupied in leadership roles. This disparity stems from multiple perceptions regarding women leaders in the workplace and their leadership styles.

As per the “Managerial Grid” leadership theory by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, there are two behavioural dimensions that affect leadership styles – concern for people and concern for production or results. Most studies agree that men and women don’t differ greatly as leaders and are seen as equally capable. However, women are generally viewed as transformational leaders – they empower their subordinates with a vision or a goal and encourage them to follow it, whereas men are perceived as transactional or task-oriented leaders, focusing more on results, goals, and deadlines.

Surveys also show women consistently rank higher in certain key areas associated with leading people, like understanding and flexibility. Women leaders also ranked higher on honesty and ethics, fair play, and mentoring employees. Moreover, they also emphasise better teamwork, cooperation, and cohesiveness, thereby leading to better organisational success and achievement of goals.

Empowered women leaders and what they bring

Many organisations are trying to develop a better work culture that is more inclusive, understanding, and empowering for women employees. Better representation in leadership roles is essential as women are capable of bringing an astute style of leadership along with a different, more aware perspective to the table. With highly motivated, skilled, multi-tasking women, companies are aware of how women leaders can not only excel in contributing to an organisation’s goals but also adopt a more participative and  transformational styles of leadership. These leaders also serve to empower and inspire other women by providing them with a path to follow. 

Highly successful examples of women include Indian-born Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo for over 10 years. Or Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon, the country’s leading biotech company. India is rife with such examples of successful and powerful women responsible for great contributions in their respective fields.

What organisations need to do for women in leadership roles

According to a McKinsey survey, women apply 3 of the top 4 leadership behaviours that are seen as crucial for addressing future challenges, more frequently than men. These behaviours include “Inspiration”, “Participative decision making”, “Expectations and rewards”, with only “Intellectual stimulation” being equal among both genders. Despite such clear indicators of why women can be vital as leaders, they face several barriers that exist predominantly based on their gender. Promoting gender diversity is very critical for the continued growth of organisations. There are some crucial steps for organisations to undertake to achieve gender diversity and to empower women leaders –

  • Companies need to ensure that they form a strong backbone of women leaders at the top. While this can’t be achieved overnight, companies need to invest time and resources to ensure that capable women are given the opportunities to prove their mettle and grab leadership roles.
  • Companies need to ensure they provide a fair, safe, and inclusive environment to women by identifying pay levels and pay gaps in their structure, reviewing attrition rates in similar roles between men and women, assessing the rate of women promoted versus women eligible for promotion in different roles.
  • Introduce better recruitment and HR policies that promote gender diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace.

Conclusion

While women’s empowerment has come a long way indeed, parity is yet to be achieved. One of the first steps to achieve this goal is to provide proper education to young girls. Social reforms, cultural changes, and government policies have placed greater emphasis on providing young girls with the education they deserve. National Statistical Office (NSO) data, shows the female literacy rate at 70.30% in 2021, a steady climb from about 9% in 1947. Education serves as the first step towards empowering these girls and is a crucial springboard that turns their aspirations into a successful professional career.

Overall, the impact of women in the world of leadership has been tremendous in the 21st-century world, and this is just the beginning. The hope now is that aspiring women are inspired by current women leaders and strive to realise their dreams.  Digital academic and career counselling technologies for the first time brings this advantage to young girls without having to face the gender bias that may be prevalent with the traditional system of counselling.  

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