Leaning in has become a very important concept for women in the corporate world. Sheryl Sandberg asked women to Lean In. Many women joined in the movement and decided to ‘lean in’ in their respective organisations.
But what does it mean?
It means to grab opportunities with both hands, without hesitation.
And how do we do that?
By getting rid of inhibitions. By being bold. And by standing up for ourselves.
Let us look at few of the most relevant problem areas for working women.
What we think of us
First and foremost, as soon as we enter the office, we need to become a professional worker. Our goal in the organisation is to deliver our services in lieu of remuneration. In this goal, there should ideally be no place for being a man or a woman. But that is a utopian scenario. Right now, in many places, women are objectified too much to be able to achieve that level of gender neutrality. However, we have to start somewhere. So let us do so by treating ourselves as employees rather than ‘female employees’. I say this because many people have asked me how I am so confident as to lead/dominate the conversation in a room full of men. Most of them appreciate this, but why is that even a benchmark? The way I see it, I am not the only woman in the room but I am one of the professionals sitting in the room.
If we remove our inhibitions, we will automatically be more confident and contribute better.
How others see us
Sexual harassment at workplace is another serious challenge women face. In fact, not even a month ago, a singer was grabbed and kissed on TV by a random contestant. Why? Who told men that to appreciate a woman, you have to grab/kiss/touch her? This is blatant and obvious objectification of women.
But most of the times, what we face is very ‘subtle’. The harasser usually begins with a seemingly innocent question about our marital/relationship status. But that is where, though we feel awkward, we end up answering the question in a polite manner, instead of sternly saying it is none of his business. Because we want to give people the benefit of the doubt and do not want to read too much into something. Then the offender gets bolder. He has now started thinking that you are game for a frolic. And if we again let go of his behaviour, without a stern response in terms of a direct ‘I am not interested’ or raising an alarm, this only gets worse. Not only is that terribly disturbing and irritating in itself, but we will end up facing further questions like, ‘Why did you not say no in the first place? Why did you wait so long?’
Please be informed about the sexual harassment policy in your organisation and question them if there is no training provided on it. One very important point to remember is that you should never hesitate in raising an alarm if you are so uncomfortable with any behaviour of a colleague that your work suffers. Because whether an act is considered as sexual harassment at workplace depends on the effect it has on the receiver. So have the courage to speak up and say no in the first instance.
One of the biggest issues we face is juggling of duties. We tend to take too much on ourselves and then lead our lives constantly stressed. So, please ensure that your family is trained enough to do household chores. Family includes everyone of all genders, counting the youngest child in the house. That is how you can focus on your professional responsibilities as well. Your home responsibility is a shared one, not yours alone.
All of us have only twenty four hours in a day, irrespective of gender. So utilise the day by prioritising well.