Making it easier for women to enter corporate life, or become entrepreneurs, is as important as giving them reservation in Parliament, says Shailja Dutt, Managing Director, Stellar Search, New Delhi (www.stellarsearch.com). Women need to be encouraged, but a mindset change is required, she adds, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.
“It’s something mere policies cannot achieve. We need to create awareness and education around the subject. In India there is still a strong view that women are the weaker sex, dowry deaths are common place, and female infanticide is still practised. We need to first educate them, and then create policies.”
What keeps women from C-suite positions, I ask Shailja? “Short-sighted men,” she responds. And our discussion moves on to something positive…
Excerpts from the interview
What do you observe as the (shall we say, seven) effective habits of successful women at the top?
Seven habits of an effective woman are as follows:
1) Plan, plan, plan – Both long-term and short-term. I always keep the long-term objective in mind as I tweak my short-term plans. Often I change my schedule on a per-day basis, but never lose sight of my goal.
2) Prioritise well – Between board meetings, dentist appointments and sick toddlers, nagging mom-in-laws, friends, spouse’s boss at home for dinner, team reviews… I know how to tackle each one, well, one at a time.
3) Stay self-motivated and driven – Ask a man if he would like to manage home and hearth, raise kids, manage parents, in-laws and work hard for his next promotion…all at the same time. I can assure you the answer will be no.
4) Practise empathy – It’s a trait that always sets a woman manager apart. We are more intuitive and far more empathetic compared to our male counterparts, thanks to our ever-present maternal instinct. And hence create very strong engagement within our teams. Our employees/ teams are deeply emotionally engaged with us at all levels.
5) Have a 360-degree life – Always take time out for myself, listen to music while I cook or iron, spend time with friends, and exercise everyday. Pursue my passions with a passion!
6) Be yourself – Comfortable being myself, proud and super-confident about my abilities and completely gender/ religion/ caste/ creed neutral when it comes to taking decisions.
7) Have a sense of humour – Learn to laugh at your mistakes and share them with colleagues and friends… give them a reason to smile.