Manohari is employed at Hayleys PLC as manager for strategic business development. She was adjudged as the CIMA young star silver medal winner at the maiden CIMA Janashakthi pinnacle awards programme, held in 2004.
I’ve often wondered why there is little representation of women on the boards of most corporate organizations. Formal monthly board meetings are generally a gathering of men, with a woman only occasionally attending: a recent CIMA survey reveals that CIMA’s female members are six times less likely than its male members to be in senior roles such as CEOs or CFOs.
Is the invisible glass ceiling impregnable?
The glass ceiling
The term ‘glass ceiling’ was originally coined in an article written by Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt on the 24 March 1986 edition of the Wall Street Journal. The piece referred to the invisible barriers that impede the career advancement of women in the American workforce.
why do salary surveys reveal that women are paid less than their male counterparts?
why do women fall back in the corporate ladder after outperforming male peers at university?
do women concentrate too much on working hard, and insufficiently on networking?
The traditional woman preferred to stay at home and look after the family. However, the present economic environment, coupled with expectations of higher living standards, has resulted in an increasing number of women seeking jobs to earn a living.
Women in general have two main issues:
1. Balancing work and family
The dual role of career woman and wife and mother means juggling two to three roles in a day. McKinsey’s report on ‘Women Matter’, highlights this as the ‘double burden syndrome’.
Today’s careers are not restricted to nine to five. Occasionally, you’re required to attend meetings, seminars and cocktails well past traditional work hours. Guilt creeps in when you have to leave home for a long time. We wonder - is this worth it? Do we miss seeing our children growing up?
Knowledge also changes rapidly. There is a risk of becoming obsolete if you take a career break.
How should we strike a balance between work and family?Good time management is essential, and family support is a bonus. Organizing the day and giving priority to the most important tasks is a must. Devote ‘quality time‘ to your family.
The Asian woman is fortunate to have the immediate family - parents and in laws - to support her in looking after the kids while she is at work.
How can you stand out from the crowd in the workplace?Working hard and putting
in long hours is not the only way to advance your career. Build a good
reputation in your company, take up challenging assignments, and pursue higher
education to become a rising star.
Showing your skills set
context, soft skills (for example good PR and communication skills) are becoming
more and more important than paper qualifications. Women need to portray an
image of confidence to their superiors and colleagues.
needs to be developed. Ensure you have a vision with a clear strategy, the
ability to inspire and lead your team, and an awareness of when to show empathy.
You need not be a ‘yes’ person to your seniors, but disagreement needs to be
conveyed in a polite manner. Always uphold your integrity and values.
twice before saying ‘no’ to an opportunity given by your bosses, even if it is
outside your comfort zone. In order to succeed, you sometimes need to take
Networking is crucial in today’s business world. Devote
time to building networks with your fellow colleagues in your profession.
Understanding of different cultures, particularly when dealing with foreign
business partners, is also highly important.
Strategies for career development
Remaining solely in finance can also be a hindrance; explore the possibility of switching to general management or marketing in order to help you reach the top.
A good mix
McKinsey research has shown that companies with 30% or more representation at board or senior management level produce the best financial results. A combination of men and women helps ensure better decision making, as women bring in a different dimension when seeking solutions for complex business problems.
Many corporate videos are becoming more emotive, revealing how their products and services are touching human lives. Gone are the days where the corporate videos were product centric. Significantly, women are the driving force behind 70% of purchasing decisions, even in traditional 'male' product areas such as cars: for example, research has shown that women influence 60% of new car purchases in Japan.
Naturally, not all women may want to reach the top (which is actually quite a lonely spot); they may opt for middle management careers. It is however clear women should be better represented in decision making roles in the corporate arena. Let us hope that more aspiring women are able to take up leadership roles in the business world in the future, finding the ability to strike the right balance between family and work.