Amreeta, tell us about your journey, share of challenges how did you overcome them that shaped you to becoming one of the known women leader in HR fraternity, now an Entrepreneur Co-Founder CEO of Bleuming Technology. How were the challenges different while working for other brands versus running your own start-ups?
Like many others, I too had my own set of challenges. I graduated from Assam and it took me a while to get adjusted to the lifestyle of the cosmopolitan city and the corporate culture. I learnt the hard way to manage life away from home and at the same time deliver the work that was expected of me. I had to break many barriers to prove my capability at work and seek more managerial roles. I set aside hearsay, stayed self-motivated against all odds, delivered more than expected to reach the position that I wanted to be. I had to prioritize my work over personal life and I must say, I am blessed that I always had the support of my family. Every new role came with its own set of responsibilities and challenges. And more the difficulties, the more stubborn I became to overcome it.
Now talking about the challenges of big brands Vs startup. Working with big brands provides a lot of exposure like – global experiences, structured processes, growth, visibility, to large extend job security and above all, working with skilled resources across verticals. However, we mostly operate within our known territories. There are limitations in the agility of processes, decision making, creativity, and implementation.
The startup world is an ocean of opportunities with high volatility. We have no limitations to what we can learn, build, and deliver. We have flexibility in processes, policies, and hierarchy. Most of us play multiple roles with a larger sense of ownership. The bonding of the team is far stronger than most larger companies and there are more open, candid, and unbiased conversations. There are many instances where I play the role of office admin, managing teams, raising funds, and even a nagging vendor to clients requesting them for payments. A lot of bandwidth goes in managing operations and stretching beyond work hours is inevitable. All of these are incredibly exciting, provided we are ready to give ourselves that one ounce of faith.
Describe what does #SheTakesTheLead means to you?
For me, it means – the moment of pride, the moment of truth, the moment of equality, the moment of responsibility, and the moment of self-realization – that nothing, except ourselves, can stop us from achieving anything.
With years of experience in a leadership position What do you think – What Women want in the workplace for them to grow to take on leadership roles.
Nowadays, most of the organizations are making a conscious effort to include women at leadership levels as they are seeing an increase in revenue and market value. However, just hiring diverse candidates will not help unless companies provide a conducive environment for their growth.
Women aren’t looking for anything different than men; except for an inclusive workplace – where women are given equal opportunity and equal appreciation.
Women need a workplace that makes them feel more valued.
Women need to be given challenging roles so that they can reach their fullest potential. In many instances, women are not offered senior roles or managerial roles, simply because it is “assumed” that they will not be able to stretch or ‘balance the work-life’.
Women need to be given opportunities without the prejudice of non-performance.
They need to be coached, encouraged and most importantly be given the confidence, that they have the potential to grow into larger roles and eventually to the leadership position in an organization.
Conventional wisdom says that women hit a “glass ceiling” as they advance that prevents them from reaching senior leadership positions, the biggest obstacle that women face is the first step up to manager thus more women getting stuck at the entry-level? How much do you agree to this why?
Yes, I agree. There is a fewer number of women at managerial roles than at the IC level or entry-level.
The reason for this is because the ratio of women at entry-level is far less as compared to men. The factors behind this are – lack of girls enrolling in schools, fewer enrolments in colleges, and various social obligations. A lot of women candidates do not opt for employment after graduation due to family restrictions, a few get rejected in the biased hiring process, and so eventually, it’s only a handful of talent who finally becomes employed.
If we can change this ratio, we will have a lot more women getting hired and thereby many more women automatically rising the job hierarchy. And for this to happen we need necessary reforms in the education system, social system, and economic upliftment attached to women’s employment.
The current recruitment environment suggests gender diversity is part of the strategic agenda for most organizations, while many department owners are asking questions on the relevance of diversity over merit, how hiring managers should deal with this situation?
Hiring solely based on gender or ethnicity is unfair, and it is unlikely to lead to any good hires for the company. Most often, the question of gender credibility is a result of the department owners/ hiring manager’s unconscious bias. My answer to this is to have a clear, measurable, and an unbiased evaluation process of hiring candidates. This process should be able to clearly define the skills along with a set of core values that are required for the job. The recruitment team needs to work very closely with the department owners. Recruiters need to design innovative ways of attracting diverse talent, starting from having an ‘inclusive’ JD, to sourcing more diverse candidates, and finally onboarding them.
There has always been the unconscious bias between genders, what initiatives can organisation take to reverse this deep-rooted thought.
This needs a huge shift in mindset for both genders.
Women can no longer be considered as a “weaker gender”, but should be considered as a gender who can complement, bring in a different perspective, and creates a better workplace. There needs to be more acceptability of “Who we are and why we are the way we are”.
Here are a few options on how we can create a more inclusive workplace-
a) Create programs to make employees understand the concept of unconscious bias. Create more open communication channels. Training and coaching to educate employees, including the leadership team on unconscious bias.
b) Top-down communications from the Leadership about inclusion and setting the tone for the company.
c) Creating a conscious effort to include women in the decision-making process, hear their thoughts and ideas.
d) Create women champions/role models and mentors.
e) Increase the ratio of diverse candidates starting from entry-level to leadership roles.
At the same time, there is an enormous change also expected from women.
Here are a few things that women at work also needs to improve –
a) Need to be more assertive and confident
b) Be ready to take up additional responsibilities or higher roles. Most often, women turn down roles as they fear failures, work overload, less family time, less flexibility or work-life balance.
c) Set clear professional goals. It is not just a job to balance life’s expectations and expenses.
d) Network and seek sponsorship. Women role models should mentor other women in the team.
e) And most important, don’t allow yourself or others to take you for granted. Learning the art of saying ‘NO”.
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