«

»

Dear Men, On this Women’s Day….

Do me a favor. Don’t give the women in your life flowers, chocolates, inane messages on whatsapp , or diamonds ( ok ok I’ll make an exception on diamonds). Instead make an effort to listen to them, or better still, make an effort to ask them to speak up!

A McKinsey report, rather poignantly, for a research document, points out that 76% of men at middle management levels believe that they will reach the top, versus 58% women with exactly the same experience, talent and skill set! This under -confidence that women have, despite doing well, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in their successful ascent up the career ladder. And it lies like a serpent in their bosoms, waiting to strike at any moment; when the teacher asks a question in class, when they are sitting in the board room at an all-male table, when they are asked by their bosses to take up an assignment at a higher level, even when they have to negotiate for a salary hike.

However bright she may be, a woman is far more tentative than a man in literally every corporate environment and who can blame her? For her entire life she has been asked to be the silent and invisible gender. “A girl should not talk loudly, laugh boisterously, draw attention to herself, etc” was a message constantly drilled into her head while her brother could be as flamboyant and conspicuous as possible. Maybe it was in parts a desire in her parents to keep her safe by making her as less noticeable as possible or maybe in any case a girl’s opinion counted for so little that it was better she kept quiet?

Women were all made to feel and be lesser than themselves, and occupy as small a place under the sky; no wonder this has made them unsure about themselves and even if they know better they often choose to remain silent!

I remember a dear friend, once telling me that when he was the Chief Honcho at one of the largest research firms of those days, he would inform all the women in his team, that they were to visualize he had a ruler in his hand which he would whack them with, if they did not open their mouth during client meetings!

A rather tough love approach to solving the problem but one that I totally subscribe to! So if you are really sincere about wanting to give a gift to the women in your team, at home or at work, help them speak up!

Happy Women’s Day!