Stressed surroundings,intense discussion going on.The client has set some target budget value for the supplier and the team doing all permutation & combination to match margins.
It’s a scene of a large project negotiation with an esteemed client of their company. The team, Sakshi,who is the key account manager of this client, regional head, technical expert and few others. Here comes an elderly gentleman and shakes hands with the team with a broad smile. Sakshi,being newly joined in this organisation could not recognise him though. Regional head introduced him to all, “he’s an old face to this special client and we have invited him only for relationship sake with them, he got good connects”. Sakshi observed , he must be in his 60’s, suited up, no laptop only the briefcase and a diary. He smiled at her, “you guys are only with laptop these days, we never used those machines and grabbed all big projects only with our talent and relationship ”. She smiled back in reply and Somehow, not receiving a positive vibe from him. Seems like, he is not comfortable seeing a “Girl” in this important project discussion. Anyways, client called for another round of discussion. The gentleman plotted a drama to present in front of client, who will talk what. He looked at her “you lady, you just be quiet and talk nothing”. Sakshi smiled no more, she is really offended now. Of late She has been practising “To be Calm” and not to “React” immediately. But she can not stand by such attitude, she is very certain to teach him a lesson. Now she is curious to see Gentleman’s special skills to get through this project. It’s a round table discussion, She sat just opposite to him,purposely. Discussion starts, the gentleman transits from “Old Lion” to “Rattly Rat” and starts pleading the client, how the organisation has been serving them and the history together. She is amused now, it literally reminded her of “Breaking Up” scenario, where one party pleads to stay and the other listens, though doesnot change mind. He pleaded enough, the client showed him the huge gap of prices between them and competitor. The gentleman from client side is a wise fellow, his voice is firm “I am answerable to my management for giving the contract with premium price to you, can you please justify your high value”. Elderly gentleman frowned, straining and looking at regional head for help.
Till now, Sakshi said no word, just observing everyone and happenings. She rose up, went to the white board in the room, took the black pen and started writing on it. The elderly gentlemen, regional head and the client,everyone in the room, turned to the board, surprised and curious. She made few charts, explained the products technically and their differentiating factors from others. She illustrated how her organisation stands out from others and what practices they follow. She came back to her seat, made few calculations and presented to regional head for final numbers. They took some time and nevertheless to say, the contract was signed by evening. By the end of the quarter, she was awarded the “Best Sales Person”of the company.
This is not a story, it’s a true event. Every working women can relate to Sakshi at some point of their career. Irrespective of the diversity and inclusion movements at all working places, women face such instances very often, almost everywhere.
Recently, Harvard business reviews published a research article on “Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills”. This research data clearly portraits the high efficiency of women than men almost in every aspects of work place. In fact, women at leadership role are equally competent, at times better than men. However, even if data stands strong with “Women Power”, the real picture is slightly different with employment history of women. For centuries, there have been broad, cultural biases against women along with stereotype attitude towards them. Our career is considered to be “Hobby” at times. Even if we work hard with sincerity, we are considered not to aspire the highest ranks of the organisation.
Reality hurts even more knowing another fact on this aspect. The ratio of educated women has a huge gap with women at workplace in real. In my country, India, the movement of “Girl Education”got applauded by majority of the crowd. Women literacy is growing every year,though not satisfactory yet with improvement. Well, this growth is not result oriented when to comes to women employment, disappointing indeed. Number of working women in India is declining every year.
Coming back to Sakshi’s story, this has been a burning issue for females since ages.Certain professions are perceived as “Not female friendly”such as site jobs,Sales etc which require field activities and extensive travelling at times.Man has been predominantly ruling these areas and is always expected to lead here. So, when women started to Pursue career in those fields,patriarchal system of society could not stand by it easily.
I remember, when I started my career 11 years back in electrical marketing, I was the only lady in my organisation for choosing marketing. I still remember the hassle full journey, the surprised glances of my clients to see a “Girl” in this profession. The main hurdle was to handle the “Male Chauvinist” attitude and the “Uncomfortable reactions”. Things are much better over time and people are now more comfortable with ladies in every field.Yet, women have to face such incidences on time to time basis, even now.
Its a disturbing fact, the number of women can be counted on fingers at CEO level and its declining as per the Harvard research data.
The good part is every organisation is working on diversity and inclusion at present time. Corporates are also willing to hire more no of females these days. The strict discipline of organisation about making derogatory comment on women also helping to reduce men made biases.
Looking back at my long tenure of working life, some of the learnings I would like to share.
We women need to build our confidence at younger ages only which will motivate us to take more initiative in future, be more resilient and to be more receptive to feedback from others, which in turn will make us more effective leaders in the long run.
We have to convince ourselves first that we can do anything impossible even after obstacles and biases around us.
We are emotional and vulnerable and these two qualities make us indeed stronger than our male counterpart. We can hit the rod harder after phase of our emotional imbalance.
Good look does not comply good quality and never ever try to take advantage of it. One example of such advantage may ruin the path for others who believes in worth of hard work.
And most importantly, “ Believe in yourself”. We are already one step ahead once our self belief emerges out from within.
Overall, I hope, our society will be more supporting towards women to share the load equally. Female being the pillar of a society, should be more and more encouraged to come out with flying numbers.
Keep smiling and stay blessed😊😊😊