Three Ways Women are Changing the Indian Workplace
 

Three Ways Women are Changing the Indian Workplace

By Ninad Sheth
With their unique strengths and fresh ideas, these go-getters represent the female vanguard transforming Indian business thinking.

In our global survey, India rated family and success as the keys to a fulfilled life. As we see in the headlines every day, this is a country striving to be bigger and better. Especially its female citizens.

In the new Indian workplace, women are increasingly taking leadership positions with a sense of fearless drive. Now more than ever, Indian women are hungry to climb to new heights — literally.

Women in India are:

 1. CHARTING NEW TERRITORY

Mountaineer Santosh Yadav proves this every day. She has led two successful ascents on Mount Everest. Now, she runs an academy at Manali in the upper Himalayas that teaches not just mountain climbing, but risk taking and leadership.

She explains, “When I first started climbing there were very few women in the field. It was not easy. Twice on Everest, I lead groups that included mostly men.”

She managed these high-pressure situations in what may seem an odd way: by loosening up, and not micro-managing. “When climbing you need to trust your team absolutely. That trust will be the difference between staying on Everest and coming back.” 

Now, Santosh is spreading her knowledge to a new generation of adventurers. Women are flocking to learn mountaineering in increasing numbers. As she explains, women have an X factor that makes them perfect for climbing.

“Calibrated courage is what is needed in the greater Himalayas, and I have found that women have it in spades. When you are crossing ice falls or when you rope over a deep precipice, you have to combine courage with humbleness. Because the mountain is always bigger, grander, more powerful than you. Women demonstrate this respect for the power of nature, and understand that it has to be married to individual courage to script success.”

2. TAKING THE LEAD

Swati Bhargava, too, has scaled two professions in ultra-competitive fields: those of finance and of technology. She was with Goldman Sachs in their London office before she was swept up by the excitement of India’s economic renewal story. Now, she runs CashKaro, a website that gives you up to 25 percent cash back if you use it as a gateway for internet shopping.   

Swati elaborates, “Tech is constantly changing and women are increasingly at the forefront.” Often for example, women bring a new mind-set and a fresh perspective on ideas in what was once a male-dominated industry.

And a fresh perspective can do wonders. With CashKaro, for instance, “We saw incredible numbers in India because a lot of people are purely mobile and cash back goes a long way here. CashKaro is looking at leadership position in this space.” She even recently secured Ratan Tata, former boss of the Tata Empire, as an investor.

That’s no surprise — the business world is finally waking up to the inherent strengths that female entrepreneurs wield. “WBEs [women business enterprises] are agile, innovative problem-solvers, meeting corporations’ needs quickly, adapting to marketplace changes and providing deep value and cost-effectiveness,” says Pamela Prince Eason, president of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council in the USA.

3. CHALLENGING THE NORM

At Delhi’s plush Lavaash restaurant, chef Megha Kohli is the star. Female chefs are still a minority in kitchens, but Megha is proud to say that women are transforming India’s food landscape by always seeking out fresh flavours. “New recipes are taking shape [every day]. There is a push by lady chefs towards innovation in both traditional and western cuisine.”

Not only are they inventive, women’s leadership skills also ensure that tempers rarely boil over. “Women have a certain empathy,” says Megha, “which helps when leading the way in the kitchen where deadlines are short and the various egos have to be managed.”

This empathy also makes for a more passionate meal. As one blogger notes, chef Megha’s mantra “is that cooking is an emotional process and not a technical one. You can serve the most exotic of dishes, but if you haven’t connected with the food while making it, it’s an effort gone to waste.”

Getting hungry? Luckily, Megha predicts more passion bubbling away in India soon. “I see many more women joining this profession as the Indian economy grows and becomes more gender receptive.”

Image courtesy of: Swati Bhargava