January 31, 2012 by Ilene H. Lang
Earlier this month, we met with CEOs of Indian companies to discuss the importance of expanding opportunities for women and business in India Inc. Women currently make up 36 percent of the Indian labor force, yet 67 percent of Indian employers are struggling to fill jobs. One solution to this talent crunch: educated and ambitious Indian women.
CEOs across Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore shared with us inspiring, and effective, ways in which they’re shifting their organizations’ cultures to ensure that all talent is valued. One CEO talked about “leading by example.” He has taken action and asked each member of his leadership team to mentor three women, while he personally mentors five!
Another CEO talked about consciously changing the way he viewed women—namely, by thinking of them as natural leaders. Once he started from the assumption that women were born to lead, it helped him to confront and shatter biases and stereotypes about women that he grew up with.
Finally, a CEO talked about changing the default question at his company, so that when women are considering a new role with bigger responsibility, they are not asked, “why would you want to do this job,” but instead, “why wouldn’t you want to do this job?”
Actions like these are clearing a path for the success of talented, and ambitious, Indian women. Gender gaps exist in India, but we’ve discovered on this trip that many companies understand how women can fuel India Inc. And they are acting on it—an inspiring model for senior leaders in India, and around the world.