Given that it is the International Women’s Week and we at Catalyst are an all-women organization (at least as of now), we have chosen to write about the emergence of women leaders in the Indian corporate space (or the lack of it!). Recently, the Confederation of Indian Industry released a report indicating that women comprise only 16 per cent of junior managers, four per cent of middle and senior managers and a mere one per cent of organizational leaders. Thus, while women are adequately represented in the Indian workforce at large, they remain barely present in managerial positions. This is in spite of  ‘diversity in workforce’ being the buzzword of a number of corporates in the recent past.

There is no denying that women bring a lot of value to the table especially in today’s world of collaboration and innovation. Many studies have indicated that women prefer a collaborative and inclusive decision-making process, they are more flexible and empathetic and have better interpersonal skills compared to men. They also are great at multi-tasking and masters of opportunity management, making them valuable resources especially at the top.  Then why is it that women hit the ‘glass ceiling’? And what would it take to retain them in the long run?

It is a popularly held misconception that a flexible and supportive work environment is enough to keep a woman employee engaged and loyal. While there is no denying that flexibility is critical to help her hang on to a job, to keep her engaged and drive performance would require much more.

Constant challenges and an opportunity to learn is a critical factor. Women typically tend to excel in fields that interest them from within and challenges their latent creativity and problem-solving ability.

An open work culture which allows women to express ideas and question norms is another critical factor. Women love to explore and reinvent, and a non-threatening work environment allows them to prosper.

Lastly, a participative team environment which allows them to indulge their nurturing self and build consensus allows them to be at their best. Women are excellent networkers and work cultures that value this skill tends to motivate them more.

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