Unconscious bias at workplace can be addressed by professionals and corporate: Women Leadership Summit at IIM Bangalore

Bengaluru:  The third annual Women Leadership Summit, hosted by the Women in Management (WIM) club at IIM Bangalore, saw thought provoking knowledge sessions and an enthusiastic turnout not only from IIMB, but also from various other colleges like Christ University, and companies like SAP, Microsoft and Infosys in Bangalore.

Two keynote eminent speakers, each role models and struggled a lot in their life, combined to create a impact on discussions around women in leadership roles in corporate India. “Success and likeability are negative correlates for women,” said Neeta Revankar, CFO, Saken Technologies and Member of the Management Committee of Sasken, exhorting young professionals to recognise unconscious bias at the workplace and condition themselves to challenge it.

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The former South Zone cricketer turned CFO said that the value of developing domain expertise through constant learning and reskilling while paying equal attention to maintaining good health, building strong professional and personal networks and having the right mentors. “Make a religion around fitness. It will pime you for leadership roles and give you the confidence and the mental strength that you need,” she advised.

Emphasizing  that corporates should make it worth the while of qualified women to stay and excel in the work place, she urged organizations to create, build and support both women’s only and mixed networks at the workplace where women can interact during work hours. “Every member of every leadership team of every organization should have diversity as their goal, and should mentor at least 3-5 women,” she said.

On the theme of role models, the second speaker of the morning, Kaustubh Chakraborty, PGP alumnus (2003) from IIM Bangalore and current alum-trainer at McKinsey and Company, spoke on the aspiration gap which, he said, explained the lack of women in the C suite and emphasized the need to have more role models.

Supporting his views with statistics from a recent study of 118 companies with regard to women in leadership roles, he said the study found that women were choosing staff roles instead of line roles and the cycle kept reinforcing itself. “While addressing the aspiration gap, we should make a financial case for diversity,” he added.

The keynote speakers were followed by a panel on ‘Priming for Success’, where the participating speakers are as followed:  Dr. Do Thu Ha, Professor, Vietnam National University; Chitra V, Manager, Deloitte Consulting; Mansi Baranwal, Case Team Lead, Bain & Company and Latha S, CEO, ChipperSage Education, and moderated by Professor Vasanthi Srinivasan of the Organizational Behaviour & Human Resources Management area of IIM Bangalore.

The summit concluded with a workshop on ‘Social Entrepreneurship’, conducted by Nagaraja Prakasam, mentor at NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), the entrepreneurship and incubation centre at IIM Bangalore, and Angel Investor & Founder, Indian Angel Network. “Women and men often start out on an equal footing at entry levels in corporates. However, the numbers at the top tell a different story. Why is it that such few women are able to successfully ascend the professional ladder? What are the challenges faced, and how can they be overcome? These were the questions that inspired the theme of this summit,” said Anuradha Rao, President, Women in Management club, IIM Bangalore.

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