Abha Banerjee is Founder and Chief Mentor at Success India. She is also the Founder, Asia Leaders Consortium, Indonesia and has spent significant time in South & South East Asia.
Successes, according to you, of gender equality movement which gathered momentum towards the end of the last decade
Starting as a Women’s issue, it also became a corporate issue, government issue and men’s issue which added more momentum and critical mass to the voice.
We also saw the rise and success of Feminist movements, legal breakthroughs of having women in boardrooms, changing laws around women’s rights, young women leaders being part of feminist campaigns, women’s entrepreneurship, availability of funds for women’s projects, mobilization of resources for these movements and women/girls taking on global issues.
The big focus in the last three years was also workplace issues like equality and pay parity in workplaces. The other key voice was around women’s safety and movements like MeToo got a thumping embrace for the problem that has existed around women and sexual harassment.
One of the greatest highlights of these movements has been the coming together of women in all different formats to support each other instead of simply seeking relief from a government agency. The voices got weightier and the fact of collective made them even stronger. And that’s when it happened. Women from different backgrounds, working in different sectors, of different ethnicities, with different stories came together and found their strength is in their diversity and began to claim their power.
At the start of this decade, what would be your three priorities for gender equal workplaces?
According to a 2018 McKinsey report, gender equality at workplace cannot remain an issue for intermittent discussions but can only be achieved by being made a business priority.
The three high priority areas must be:
*Creating respectful, inclusive work cultures and environments for women to feel psychological safety at workplace, creating checks on everyday microaggressions and discrimination;
*The overlooked area of early hiring and promotions to have more representation and advantages of early as well as continued growth in order to close the gender gap in the long term;
*Identifying Leaders, Leadership training and Mentoring should become a norm rather than a need-based exception.
How important is the role of men in this movement and what according to you should organizations do to involve them?
The role of men is critical in as much as they major in numbers when it comes to issues relating to women whether at workplace or at home. Sensitizing men, sharing women’s needs, training in emotional intelligence and allowing space for dialogue to break down the patriarchal structures, creating more women leaders, working together especially on projects relating to women and men joining women oriented or women run businesses is crucial to open the discourse and make it the new normal.
How important is the concept of “Sisterhood” in accelerating change?
A common sense but phenomenal idea for women to support women as they understand women’s issues and the relatability around nurturing capabilities, family issues, social standing become common ground for becoming each other’s voice.
We have seen All girl schools and colleges. The time has come for all women organizations to all women seminars to address specific issues and tap into this 50% potential at individual, social and corporate levels.
Do you think we need a young champion like Greta Thunberg for this cause as well?
I think, we need older, more experienced champions whose voice can work on a global level, who have experienced the East and the West, who bring that knowledge and understanding to specific areas of concern, voice their opinion, gather others around these ideas, spread the movements and who are willing to spend their energy exclusively on gender equality awareness and campaigns.