I have been in the workplace for a while now!
One of the things that has grown in velocity is the women in leadership conversation, and validly so. Except I don't see too many of them.
What I do see is a lot of women, at schools, at restaurants, malls, parks - of all shapes and sizes. Women who have families in shades and textures, ones who have it simple, have had it hard, have had to battle certain stereotypes or live with certain truths in their own lives.
Most of these women are not thinking about women in leadership. They are not even thinking about the big hairy goals yet. Many have lives, inspiring in other ways. And in no way there is a lack of ambition, except that their version of success belongs elsewhere.
Some of these women topped their classes, went to top colleges, did well in projects assigned to them. Some of these are young women, who are potentially the first in their families to step out in a big way. Many of these are women, who choose to make their parents happy by marrying early or studying something that wasn't their first preference. Many of these women run family schedules which will give a fat CEO a run for his money. Some have in laws who can make Indo-Pak peace process a cakewalk. Some of them are first or only caregivers in their spaces.
Some of these are daughters, with stars in their eyes but a high degree of hard reality and tough decisions to live with. Some of them have spent a lifetime supporting husbands in their super bright careers. Some of these are highly qualified women but they live in small towns or got married into families who are far removed from the women at work agenda, leave alone women in leadership.
Ignoring the unsexy middle - the urban educated housewife, the prospective flex worker, the wannabe mompreneur, the young woman who wants to explore her options, the average woman with interests of family and herself tied is not going to serve us as a nation.
India needs the ingenuity and talent of women in its economy, not just society.
As a country we need to gently coax some of these women to explore just another small step. A step into the direction of their dreams or just a step into what may seem like a nice little fit between their personal professional aspiration. I think we need to step back, zoom out and find spaces for each one of them. I am sure a fine crop of leaders will emerge in the process anyway.
Some of my career wins came with help of peers ad bosses who were not pushing me into leadership but gently coaching me to explore my own potential, unravel some of the curiosity I had or nudge me into areas I was keen on.
All through my career, the thought that has never left me is the need to survive before you thrive. We are like that. A lot of men and women undergo those phases. Same stands true for millions of women. These women might be invisible but they run this country's backend. They are our #Everyday SHEROES
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