UNLOCKING WOMEN POTENTIAL IN BUILDING MATERIALS INDUSTRY
Global researches have shown that teams with more gender diversity are on average more creative, innovative and bring greater profitability. However, we are yet to see concrete gains in the building materials industry.
Dr. Ananya Gandotra, Head of Design and Sustaibility Birla Estates Pvt Ltd was of the view that while women in the building materials sector were already behind in terms of opportunities, Covid-19 outbreak, has pushed them even further to the back.
Pratima Joshi, Founding Member & Executive Director, Shelter Associates stated, “The covid situation has been harder on employees working on site- both men and women. In our own organization, we tried to engage them through technology as site visits were not possible. We made sure not a single women got laid off during covid.”
Santha Gaur, Principal Architect & Co-Founder, Infiniti Design Studio & Director- Planet 3 Studios Architecture Pvt Ltd added. “As a women who is heading the organisation the first step would be to take responsibility of giving other women equal opportunity especially in the times of crisis. We as women leaders should support other women employees working with us.”
Milli Majumdar, Managing Director, GBCI India & Sr. VP, USGBC expressed, “I’ am one of the first women who worked in the green building industry. When I started working I was possibly the only women. I have done energy audits in hospitality corridors which was considered men’s work. Now, in my team I have equal number of men and women. From my experience, I can say, if you have the will to do something you will never shy away.”
Rakhi Deepak, National Secretary – FSAI and Founder & Managing Director, SagTaur Universal recounting her experience said, “I deal mostly with men who are working at the site. Sometimes it gets extremely difficult to make them listen to what I want to convey. Initially it was very difficult, but after a lot of experience it has become easier.”
Lainey Loitta, Fire Protection Manager – North America, The Lubrizol Corporation said, “It is very important to believe in yourself and working with confidence and optimism in order to complete the tasks and move ahead with experience.”
Radha Ramanujan, Chief Financial Officer, Aliaxis SA- Ashirvad Pipes said, “We need to maintain work life balance. I manage home, children, the work and strict deadlines which is sometimes overwhelming, but my work gives me pride and motivation to keep going. If you are facing problems at work or home, share them with your organization or family and find a solution.”
When you encourage men employees to take care of home and family responsibilities than it’s easier to create a gender neutral working environment. This brings out the best from both women and men workforce.”
THE GOLDEN BLISS OF WORK LIFE BALANCE
Organizations are continuously making efforts to cater to the need for a work –life balance and are employing various techniques such as flexible timings, childcare, family leave policies, remote working etc.
Milli Majumdar mentioned, “There are a lot of hurdles in life when both men and women in a family have professional careers. One needs to keep looking for optimum ways of tackling problems as they come. Apart from remaining positive and confident, it is important to focus on physical and mental wellbeing.”
Rakhi Deepak feelt that to improve the productivity, it is necessary to prioritise the tasks. “Do not stress yourself over monthly or quarterly performance, just be passionate about whatever you do. The companies on their part should provide a level playing field with equal exposure and opportunities to grow to both men and women employees.”
Pratima Joshi believes that is imperative to maintain work-life balance along with one’s wellbeing. “I have always let my family know what kind of work I’m doing, I involve them and they support me in doing my best. Providing flexible working hours to employees can go a long way in balancing work and life both for men and women.”
Lainey Loitta added, “Believing in yourself and having confidence is important. Also, important for women professionals especially the young ones to have a mentor. We women should look at growing together and lifting each other up rather than competing with each other. Women work differently than men and both bring different perspectives to the table which makes final decisions more thought-out. We need more women in this industry to offer their views.”
Santha Gour agreed, “I mentor young architectural students in my office. We do other activities apart from work like camping, marathon, meditation sessions and I often share my experiences with them. If you are capable and confident then there are no barriers to achieving success. However, providing safe working environment, transportation in case of late hours is the responsibility of the organization.”
Radha Ramanujan shared her personal experience, “Initially, often questions were raised on a woman heading a finance department but, I have been leading the organization for 8 years now. I feel companies should be transparent about the succession plans with guidelines to follow, so that all employees can benefit from that. Most importantly, instead of focussing on criticism, we should learn how to take work with a positive attitude.”
Dr. Ananya Gandotra raising some important issues commented, “In the corporate world, whistle blower policies against sexual harassment at workplace need to be taken very seriously and implemented effectively. In addition, given the job pressures, health and stress management programme will benefit all employees.”
Work Life balance is a myth because one or the other will suffer at various point in time. The best a women can do is to prioritize and build a supportive environment at work and home.