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IACC WBC Panel Discussion on ''Re-Thinking Women in Leadership : An Indo US Perspective''

(L-R) Ms.Priya Chetty Rajagopal, Chairperson IACC Women's Business Council; Dr.Shalini Rajneesh, Secretary RDPR & Principal Secretary DPAR (AR); Mr.Abhijit Bhaduri, Chief Learning Officer, Wipro; Ms.Akila Krishnakumar, President, Global Technology & Country Head( India), SunGard; Mr.Gopichand Katragadda, Managing Director, GE India Technology Centre and Ms.Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, US Consulate, Chennai

Great strides have already been taken in the space of Women’s Leadership in India. Certainly, more has been done in the last 5 years than the last 50. There are tangible results that are showing up already. However there is too far a distance to further walk, a lot of intangible issues to further explore. At this point, we need to look at what we must do to re-strategise and rethink our  ideas and execution on Women’s Leadership in the current and coming decade.

As the need for talent in the Indian marketplace begins to multiply and exposure to the dynamics of a cross-cultural global strategic workforce begins to increase, many companies and CEOs have to seriously re-evaluate the demographic pool of women executives in the workplace.

The IACC Women’s Business Council (WBC ) hosted the second of its multicity , pan Indian women leadership event focussing on “ Re-Thinking Women in Leadership : An Indo US Perspective”, in Bangalore on March 15, 2012   to take stock an evaluate not only where Women Leadership in India stands now, but also where we should be going to . It also hoped to evaluate and quantify the inputs and requirements from all the different stakeholders in the process , namely Government, Business/Corporate, Media, Academia, Society, and most importantly the Individual – Women and Men themselves.

The US Consul General at Chennai Ms Jennifer McIntyre delivered the keynote address stating that Women are making history every day, in India, in the United States, and around the world. Both education and women’s empowerment are also key areas of the strategic dialogue between India and the United States. It is important that issues related to women’s empowerment should be integrated into all aspects of the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. Both of our countries - and societies – need to continue to work towards equality and empowerment for all citizens. She noted women’s leadership is not only good for business, but also good for results and cited research showing a correlation between the number of women on boards and higher corporate profits.

Pointing to a new State Department report on the impact of women business leaders on companies and organizations, Secretary Clinton said that including more women at the top of organizations, businesses and the public sector is “not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.” Legislation and organizational mandating  certainly impact the acceleration of Women in Leadership in the US, she added . Leaders should give out the right ‘cues’ to make this happen

The Panellists Mr.Gopichand Katragadda, Managing Director GE India Technology Centre, Ms. Akila Krishnakumar, President, Global Technology & Country Head India, Sungard, Mr. Abhijit Bhaduri , Chief Learning Officer , Wipro and Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Secretary, Hyderabad Karnataka Area Development Board and Ms. Priya Chetty Rajagopal , VP, Stanton Chase International went though the ownership of the concept itself , and the movement forward. They  emphasised the importance for a support system at work and home and providing learning opportunities and mentoring to women thus enabling them to grow in leadership levels.

Social pressures are changing - In today’s generation, may women have taken the responsibility of being bread winners where as men have opted to take care of the family.

Dr. Shalini Rajneesh spoke about how 30% of the state budget it towards women oriented schemes. Abhijit Bhaduri referred to addressing individual needs (‘addressing a crowd of one’)rather than blanketing all women as one group

The panel highlighted the need for organisations to work towards retaining women talent by introducing support systems, flexibility and mentoring for women. Women Achievers should be showcased. The Government should work towards providing incentives to companies that are women friendly and are actively working towards promoting the retention and growth of women. As Priya Chetty-Rajagopal concluded, The Woman herself is the biggest stakeholder , and should take a strong stance in not only pushing the agenda forward , but ensure there is enough momentum for the upcoming (and more demanding) Generation X in the workplace.

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