HCL Emerging Women Leaders’ Summit: An Experience Worth Sharing

Fri, Nov 30, 2012

Biz Arena

“When women are the advisor, the Lords of creation don’t take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do; then they act upon it and if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it; if fails, they generously give herself the whole”

- Louisa May Alcott

This phrase defines how women have been suppressed since ages and how the cup of failure is always on their side of the table. With this, I would like to emphasize on how imperative it has become to identify, motivate and guide women professionals to succeed in today’s global economy.

Women are a critical aspect of any organization. Today, companies follow diversify & inclusion principle for a gender diverse boardroom. Women now have to break many cultural barriers imposed by the society. Being a woman, it feels glorified to see women’s tremendous management and entrepreneurial spirit to become an integral part of the great Indian success saga.

“Emerging Women Leader’s Summit” recently organized by HCL technologies is a step to identify and communicate the importance of women leaders in an organization. The occasion was blessed with the presence of global leaders at HCL technologies and I feel honored to be able to become a part of such a wonderful and enriching experience.

Ms. Srimathi Shivashankar, an extremely elegant lady heading strategic division at HCL, set the ball rolling.She started by emphasizing on the need to move away from clichés and brought on the table the concept of balance leadership. Maintaining equal stands of men and women in senior management positions in the company is what the term highlights. This balance has a direct implication. As more and more women gets included in leadership positions, the lesser the chances of risk gets. According to one of the McKinsey reports, it has been put forth that the teams with good number of women yields much higher productivity with lesser risks than the teams which are devoid of women.

The entire scenario of gender neutral workforce revolves around what a person is and not who a person is. i.e irrespective of gender what matters is what qualities a person have, that can add value to the organization, that brings business to the table. I loved the way she quoted the fact that Indian women need not reinvent, she just needs to pick a leaf up from her grandma’s book and there she is with all the answers, with all the remedies.

Women just need to rediscover herself. Many women fear leadership positions because they don’t find themselves competent enough to their male counterparts. Leadership does not imply that a woman changes herself or moulds herself by aping others. It is something which is an extension of her personality and comes out very easily when the situation demands. It is just that she needs to realize her potential and be ready to take charge of the situation, when needed.Organizations want a balance between male and female employees for the purpose of sound decisions, for higher productivity.A right workforce brings right business for you. Women need to find such organizations which nurtures them and HCL Technologies is one right place for them.

The discussion was taken forward by Mr. Prithvi Shergill, Chief Human Resource Officer at HCL. He talked about HCL’s policy of “Employees First, Customers Second”. A book has been written on the same by HCL’s CEO Mr. Vineet Nayar. Mr. Krishna Chatterjee, Head Strategic Marketing also explained how EFCS is a strategy, culture and a way of life at HCL Technologies.

HCL is a value centric organization and trust, transparency and flexibility are its basic pillars. The book is all about the transformation through a cultural change that came because of transparency. After its inception and implementation in HCL since 2005, the policy resulted in tripling of revenues and profits at HCL.

The four tenants of the book:

Mirror Mirror ,Confronting the Truth deals with open and honest conversations across the organization to result in satisfied and productive employees.

Transparency to build Trust deals with sharing of financial information (good or bad) with all its employees.

Inverting the management Pyramid, the sole focus of which is to make the people at the helm accountable to frontline employees. An initiative is 360 degree feedback.

Recasting the Office of CEO, a value portal system where employees offer suggestions and solutions for change.

CEO, Mr. Nayar himself came to bless the occasion. According to him, the whole idea at HCL is to put the employees first so that the customer never feels second. By placing the employees first, they are giving them the opportunities and good players wait for one single opportunity. Motivation is within each self. HCL provides you with a platform of opportunities. You have to remain self-motivated to grab the suitable opportunity.

The next focus of the meet was “Gender Intelligence”.  A lady with eternal poise, Ms. Ranjini Manian,CEO,Global Adjustments, created an aura in the entire room, when she started mentioning  the growing importance of gender intelligence. She quoted by saying that, women can be great leaders if they come out of their shells. They have great conviction power which is one of the cornerstones of leadership.

Good leaders can bind the people in one vision and you need a great convincing power to do the same. Women have immense potential to be great leaders and they are very good at replicating the exact focus of the business into minds and hearts of the employees.It is just that women need to recognize their potential. They need to come out of their comfort zones and should carry the transition from No Confidence to Confidence.

It is Ok to be Imperfect. Women are generally risk averse. Life doesn’t end by a wrong decision but women keep many things on stake and hence fear a wrong decision. They should give themselves the permission to be imperfect. And then everything will be fine. She quoted a commendable example to focus on difference in thought structures, mentality of women in various countries and cultures.

“A child falls on stairs. A woman from western world will not cuddle her child but she will ask him to be careful next time whereas in the same scenario, an Indian woman will quickly hug her child and will start cursing stairs in front of the child.” Nice example, isn’t it?  And it says it all. We need to change our way of thinking and this transition has already started taking place particularly for women, since a decade or so.

Mr. Ed Cohen, Chief Learning officer then carried forward the discussion focusing on the emerging need of transition to a global mindset. He made us aware about various traits of independent and interdependent societies and centered his discussion on the need of globalization in today’s era. There were panel discussions regarding the changing trends in IT market space and careers for management students and management of successful careers as women.

Women are excellent networkers, great mediators and are good in building relationships. The time has come that Indian women should rise and claim for their position in the organizations. HCL is one such organization which believes in women and gives them immense opportunities to prove themselves in today’s global scenario.

The day ended by closing remarks by Mr. Naveen Narayanan, Global head-Talent Acquisition.The remarkable insights from all distinguished speakers regarding women empowerment, leadership, and global business scenarios were clearly in line with the management philosophy at HCL Technologies and were truly enlightening.

Monica Agrawal

MBA 2013, IIT Kanpur

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