In an age where the terms ‘diversity’ and ‘equality’ are closely knit with a successful workplace culture, organizations the world over are creating gender diversity and inclusion programs with a view to attracting and retaining their female talent, especially those in leadership roles. Certainly, individual departments within an organization can strive to enable a positive work environment for female employees, but the responsibility of creating such a culture has to be placed upon each and everyone who is a part of the organization. Often beginning with the top management leading by example. Which, in our case, falls on my shoulders.
It’s only befitting then that I share a slice of my personal life before shedding light on my professional one.
Having grown up in a humble middle-class family with both working parents, as the eldest of four siblings, I have closely notices not just the balancing act the woman-in-chief (read mother) has to do to keep the family and the work running like a smoothly-oiled-machine, but also the benefits of the working-mother mindset. Having a sister not too far apart in age, with the same amount of intellect and drive as us three brothers and, perhaps, with more chores on her plate than ours, sensitized me to the little and the big gaps in the upbringing and expectation-building from our boys and girls. In 2004, having box-checked my to-dos of Engineering, MBA (from IIM Lucknow), Infosys, joining an eLearning startup, I made a daring career (and personal) move. I left that startup and founded Upside. It was also the year I got married to an intelligent and independent woman who was not afraid to use her voice, literally and figuratively, and as I often kid her (to her complete dismay!), sometimes more and louder than what the situation demands! As a family unit, I got out-numbered (gender-wise) when my daughter announced her entry into our lives soon after.
So it’s amply clear that I have had women rule all aspects of my life in various capacities too. And while each one has been uniquely unique in her way, there has been a common theme across them all. It’s that of integrity, dedication and commitment. It’s a rare mix of EQ and IQ. Of empathy and steadfastness. The very qualities when looked from the employer’s lens, translate into productive, empowered women.
Precisely what I have tried to tap into at UpsideLMS since its inception. This has been supported (and even crafted, to a large extent, for better alignment) by our hiring strategies, our workplace-policies and everything in between – maternity, adoption, transport, flexi-time, work from home, and more! It’s no surprise then that our women at the workplace ratio stands at 30% with a fair representation across all functions – Programming – LMS and Mobile, QA, Training, Tech Support, Sales & Marketing, HR, Finance and Admin. And while stats leaning so strongly in favor of women is a matter of great pride for all of us at UpsideLMS, it’s their rightful seat at the table (read Leadership Roles) that takes the cake.
Case in point – our HR Manager. A female HR Head has helped us pave a way for gender equality when it comes to recruiting, promoting and retaining top talent in the company, thus giving us an edge in hiring (and re-hiring) and keeping our most qualified employees. While having a young and dynamic AVP of Marketing (again a female!) has benefitted not only the company, in terms of growth hacking and driving business growth, but also the workplace and the work culture by opening new channels of communication and brand-building through various social media and other MarCom tools.
And when not leading the pack, our women, who are deeply ingrained in almost all functions of the company, whether newbies or experienced, whether belonging to the millennial or the Gen Z generation, are smashing it out of the park in their respective field of work and expertise. Some of these are moms-to-be, moms to princesses and super heroes, loving wives, dutiful daughters, doting daughters-in-law, caring aunts, loyal friends, or a heady concoction of all of these in proportions that make them the woman they are.
For us, #WomenInTech isn’t a hashtag that makes us cringe or squirm in our seats. It’s our pride. Here’s a video that attempts to celebrate our very women, who do it all with a stride in their step and a curl of their lips, phenomenally they do (text inspired by the late Maya Angelou).
Overall, building gender diversity, equality, representation and inclusion is a team effort. And a moving target. A target we have set for ourselves and pride on achieving year-on-year as we hone our culture that promotes and celebrates female participation. Because let’s be honest and agree that companies with strategies that reflect diversity and equality at the workplace stand a better chance to succeed. And we want to move that needle, even if it means putting the pedal to the metal.
Here’s saluting our female squad, and wishing all the women out there a very happy and inspiring Women’s Day!