Why Aren't More Women in Digital Leadership Roles?
NASSCOM, in its report termed, Women and IT Scorecard India 2018, reveals that the total representation of women in the C-suite level remains at abysmal one per cent. Among the world's largest 500 companies, only 10.9 per cent of senior executives are women, according to Weber Shandwick's Gender Forward Pioneer Index. while to a data from the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange Index shows women earn less than male counterparts even at the CEO level.
Despite diversity being high on the agenda of businesses, not enough women occupy top most seats in business but women are slowly moving up the ranks with their strong leadership skills. In an industry that is largely male dominated, women today, are not only leaving their mark but also leaving many behind.
Digitalisation has been playing a key role in empowering women. It facilitates education and job training and also improves access to healthcare and participation in the economy and civil society. The FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) organised a session on ‘Digital Leadership & Inclusive Culture’ on 1 September 2018 to discuss more on the aspect and what does it take for women to make their mark at top-level management.
'Women make up half of potential human capital available in any economy. The efficient use of this talent pool is a key driver of competitiveness. In a world where 95 per cent of all jobs have a digital component and where this is large and growing shortage of talent and skills in the ICT sector the need of the hour for organisations is to have skilled, creative and one with diverse outlook.
The key to growth is to have more women involved and take interest in ICT careers. Women bring with them a depth of ideas and perspectives that can only add value to company's innovation endeavours. The new generation of techies is bold and efficient and slowly but steadily growing in numbers,' Pinky Reddy, President FLO in the inaugural speech.
'It's up to the organisations to give them support and freedom to flourish further. Despite diversity being high on the agenda of businesses, not many women occupy seats in the CIO role, though women are slowly moving up the ladder bringing together a unique blend of leadership skills,' she added.
Leading women CIOs joined in for a riveting session and eminent panelist such as Neena Pahuja, Director General at ERNET India, Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY), MC&IT, Government of India, Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO and Head of Digital – Airtel, Seema Gaur, Executive VP & Head – IT, IFFCO Tokio GIC Ltd and Anupreet Lamba – VP-Digital Technology (USA) Bank of America all joined in to put forth their views.
Pahuja was of the view that there is plethora of opportunity for women to work and deliver the goods. Speaking at the session Pahuja said, 'Digital technology and several recent government policies are playing significant role in empowering women in a big way. Technology is also helping women feel secure at workplaces as well as on the street,' said Pahuja.
'But at the same time, women have to stand on their own; so it's not just about diversity. I'm a firm believer that we as women are not only good but better than the men. Today there is plethora of opportunities for the ladies to work and deliver and what is required is to be sensitive to their demands,' she added.
Seema Gaur believes being focussed on your job and tasks, at the same time maintaining cordial relations with all at the workplace, irrespective of the fact that gender plays an important role in keeping you ahead in the game. Gaur believes a potential woman CIO should constantly upgrade her skill sets in this fast-paced world and that will be the key to success.
'Encouraging and empowering women in the workforce is something the country needs to take up on a war footing, most corporates nowadays do want more women in the workforce – because they are really dedicated and committed to completing work,' said Gaur, Executive VP & Head – IT, IFFCO Tokio GIC Ltd.
Harmeen Mehta of Airtel was of the view that despite so many changes that have happened in the recent years, even today, women are somehow lagging behind because they believe that things need to happen for them rather than grabbing at the opportunity. 'The young girls today have a lot more self-confidence, compared to 20 years ago. However, the one thing that hasn't changed is that somehow women today still believe that things need to happen to them. It's time that they realise no one is going to give things on a silver platter; you need to make the situation happen,' said Mehta.
Anupreet Lamba, believes that digitalisation is empowering women to become what they want. 'Today women have the option of becoming what they want and digitalisation has a big role in that. The government is doing a lot to bring the gender gap closer and big companies are trying to attract women or a diverse workforce.
Neena Pahuja, Director General at ERNET India, Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY), MC&IT, Government of India (2nd from right).
Neena Pahuja, Director General at ERNET India, Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY), MC&IT, Government of India.