article banner
Work-life balance

It's a tightrope walk for work-life balance

Can women have it all – a suc­cess­ful ca­reer and a great fam­ily life? Per­haps yes, if we look at how women in In­dia Inc are man­ag­ing their pro­fes­sional and per­sonal lives. To­day’s women are will­ing to ex­per­i­ment and are ready to take on se­nior po­si­tions in com­pa­nies. All that they want is some flex­i­bil­ity. “When I saw my­self sur­rounded by a pres­ti­gious league of in­no­va­tors from across the world, in­clud­ing 78 men and only two women (in­clud­ing me) at Gold­man Sachs, I de­cided to take the big leap and start my own or­gan­i­sa­tion. Later, my ten­ure at Nord­strom worked as a con­fi­dence booster and I gave my en­tre­pre­neur­ial jour­ney a head­start,” says Rad­hika Agar­wal, co-founder and chief busi­ness of­fi­cer, Shop­

Like Agarwal, many women lead­ers in In­dia Inc are carv­ing a niche for them­selves as en­trepreneurs or lead­ers in their or­gan­i­sa­tions. Many of them also feel that their or­gan­i­sa­tions help­ing them strike  a bal­ance be­tween fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and ca­reers.
Take the case of Meenakshi Ra­j­pal Me­hta, head – fi­nan- cial ser­vices, Snapdeal and Freecharge. Be­ing a work­ing mother, she is re­quired to travel ex­ten­sively at times. “Even if I don’t travel as much as my male col­leagues, I can Skype, video chat and en­sure that my pres­ence is felt at work. Tech­nol­ogy helps a lot these days and or­gan­i­sa­tions are mak­ing full use of it to help women achieve a bal­ance,” she says.

Like Me­hta, many oth­ers are man­ag­ing ex­pertly to strike a healthy work-life bal­ance through var­i­ous ways. “Plan, pri­ori­tise and sched­ule as ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble is my mantra. Even while in of­fice, I would have planned my daugh­ter’s daily rou­tine, my menu, my guest list for the up­com­ing party at home in my head well be­fore time,” says Me­hta. What helps her is dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween ur­gent and im­por­tant. For Rachna Mukher­jee, chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer, Sch­nei­der Elec­tric In­dia, achiev­ing this bal­ance is all about pri­ori­tis­ing.

“We need to pri­ori­tise our tasks based on cir­cum­stances. Com­pa­nies can help by en­sur­ing flexi work hours in the over­all sched­ule. Be­ing cog­nizant of one’s strengths and weak­nesses and pick­ing up roles in align­ment with that al­ways helps,” she says.

Re­call­ing a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion she was in within three months of join­ing ecom­merce por­tal Snapdeal, Me­hta says she was once called for a meet­ing sched­uled in the sec­ond half of the day with com­pany CEO Ku­nal Bahl. “I won­dered how I would at­tend the meet­ing as the tim­ing clashed with my daugh­ter’s an­nual day func­tion,” she says. But one re­quest to the CEO’s of­fice to change the meet­ing hours solved the prob­lem. “Within min­utes his of­fice ac­com­mo­dated my re­quest and helped me ac­com­mo­date my per­sonal du­ties. If big com­pa­nies have smartly drafted poli­cies to help you man­age work-life bal­ance but do not have such mind­sets to un­der­stand your needs, it means a waste of re­sources,” says Me­hta. Be­sides deal­ing with per­sonal and pro­fes­sional chal­lenges, women also have to deal with of­fice pol­i­tics and tough male bosses to make a mark.

Ac­cord­ing to global pro­fes­sional ser­vices net­work Grant Thorn­ton’s in­ter­na­tional busi­ness re­port 2015 ti­tled Women i n Busi­ness: T he Path t o Lead­er­ship, In­dia ranked third low­est glob­ally in terms of pro­por­tion (15%) of busi­ness lead­er­ship roles.

A Fe­bru­ary 2016 sur­vey by staffing firm Team­lease re­veals In­dia Inc is re­luc­tant to in­te­grate women into the work­force, and gen­der equal­ity ini­tia­tives are more from a com­pli­ance per­spec­tive than bridg­ing the gap. Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, more than 72% women feel that gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion is preva­lent at the work­places.

This article was published in the Hindustan Times (Lucknow), to read please click here.