It was Saloni’s first day at work after her promotion. She had recently received a promotion, and now she was the senior manager in the sales department. Her hard work for ten years had finally paid off. She was happy with this growth, yet she wanted to do more and be more.
As the alarm rang, she jumped out of bed enthusiastically without caring about the Delhi winter. She was ready for this exciting phase of her work-life. She quickly got ready and took the Metro to work.
While entering the office looking at the half-partitioned cubicles, she was lost in a chain of thoughts.
Hereafter, I wouldn’t be sitting in these cubicles anymore; I would instead be sitting inside a swanky glass cabin…
I know I have earned it, but what can I do more to justify this promotion?
What can I make better?
How would my team treat me? Will they accept me as their leader?
A pat on the back broke her thoughts. It was her boss.
Boss: Hey Saloni, welcome back to the office, as a senior manager.
Saloni: Thanks, boss.
Boss: I have loads of new responsibilities to discuss with you, shall we go to your cabin?
Saloni: (excitedly) Sure.
Her boss talked about quite a few high-value prospects that her team needed to handle now. He was handing over these to her because he believed she was a capable leader in managing them well and getting the deal for the company. She was thrilled.
Exciting times ahead…
New prospects meant a lot of planning and impeccable execution. She sat down to make notes of the things that were needed to handle them well so that her team could close deals with them. Fully realizing this meant stretched work hours, lots of travels, networking with the prospective clients, loads of research, mentoring her team to step up, etc.
Just as she completed jotting down the strategies, the HR Head knocked on her cabin door.
HR: Hey, Saloni, congratulations on your new role.
Saloni: Thanks a lot.
HR: I am here to familiarize you with a few rules that managers need to follow to keep their team and themselves safe.
Saloni: Oh, ok. Please tell me.
HR: Your safety and your women team members’ security should be of utmost importance to you. Women are not supposed to meet clients all by themselves. They must, always have a male colleague accompanying them. Women must travel with their male counterparts so that all safety precautions are in place. It would be best if you also took a male colleague along with you when you go for client meets…
Saloni was already starting to feel the discrimination in the name of safety.
Saloni: (Cutting the HR in between) Sorry to interrupt you, I have a sales meeting now, would you mind sharing these rules over email. I will indeed have a look at them and revert to you.
She sat in her cabin, irritated with the two different messages she just received from her boss and the HR. Thinking about her boss on one side, who wanted to see her and her team grow exponentially, on the other side HR wished to regulate the movements of some of her team members. Which one should be her concentration?
What is more important to her organization? Her safety or her growth? She sat there, feeling torn apart between the two!
Lesson from this:
DECIDE WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOUR ORGANIZATION, WOMEN LEADER’S SAFETY, OR THEIR GROWTH.
Honestly, both are equally important. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure these rules are in sync with the holistic growth of women leaders of your company.
Women are here to perform and not to feel constrained with these complicated situations. They needn’t feel like second class leaders simply because of their gender. In the name of safety and security do not damage the morale of your women leaders or curb their free growth.
Instead, make rules which will genuinely make them feel empowered. For instance, what if your company decides to send two women together for a client meeting, instead of one? What if two women travel together instead of one?
Who said that men need to protect women even in professional spaces?
Make life a little easier for women leaders by providing clear messaging.
This is the 2nd story in the 100 ways to empower women leader’s series. You can read the other stories here.
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