Are Corporates anti-women?

A friend’s company recently published this article on Harvard Business Review. Here’s an excerpt –

New research by our firm, Catalyst, shows that among graduates of elite MBA programs around the world—the high potentials on whom companies are counting to navigate the turbulent global economy over the next decade—women continue to lag men at every single career stage, right from their first professional jobs. Reports of progress in advancement, compensation, and career satisfaction are at best overstated, at worst just plain wrong.

The report stated that there is not much correlation between child bearing and career growth for women, there was not any significant indicator as to why women are at a junior position v/s men on the same career path. The only indicator which showed bias was the entry roles offered to women, where they had to prove their worth to the organization before being taken for higher roles (10% women were accepted at higher level roles v/s 19% men were accepted at higher level roles).

To know more of the scenarios that is in corporate India, I did some secondary research (read googling) and came with some interesting articles. This one says that the condition of women in India Inc. is no different, some excerpts –

Surprise? Not really, as experts say that a bare three per cent women occupy senior positions in private companies across India. And most of the companies only have five to six per cent women employees. What is more, a national daily quoted Pallavi Jha, former chairperson of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) (Maharashtra Region) as saying; “A study on women graduates of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, showed that more than 70 per cent do not pursue a career.”

A study conducted in 2007 revealed that this discrepancy is not only observed in the lower echelons of company management, but even more so at senior management levels.

Out of the 9,000 people on boards of the BSE-listed companies, only five are women. Indian companies seriously lack women in senior management roles, HR consultants say.

If one has to change this, then who does the responsibility lie with? The women to achieve more? The men to give women a fair chance? The organizations to level the odds for both the genders? The education system? Or the society to change their mindset?

JK Rowling at HBS

I was unaware of the fact that JK Rowling (the author of the very popular Harry Potter series) holds an honorary degree from the Harvard Business School. So it came as a surprise when I chanced upon her Commencement speech at the HBS Alumni meet.

An excerpt –

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

JK Rowling talks about how she looked at her failures to give her strength. To give her the courage to follow the road less trodden. Failure takes away all the unnecessary things, giving the individual focus and clarity. No wonder they say that failures are the pillars of success.

A parting note (quoting JK Rowling who was quoting Seneca)  –

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I think everyone who is aspiring to make it big should go through that speech. Success is not something that happens overnight, and without a certain clarity of purpose, it is very hard to succeed.