The performance of an organisation depends on the talent it attracts, retains and empowers. I have always believed in the potent philosophy “win the war for talent”. Diversity and inclusion are instrumental to the growth, strategy and leadership of a company. Hiring decisions need to be based on the right “talent” for the right job, as opposed to the right “man” for the right job.
Gender diversity is known to be a driver, not just of revenue but of innovation as well.
Statistics reveal that the degree of innovation jumps 10% in companies when the percentage of female managers within a company crosses 20%. In terms of revenue impact, a 1% increase in gender balance is correlated with a 3% increase in sales revenue.
Having said that, I would like to share my experience in the shipping and logistics industry in a few words. I have been in the industry for 17 years, and I have been fortunate to have had great colleagues and seniors who have recognised my abilities and provided a healthy conducive environment for growth. I did, though, face challenges in being accepted in the North India market and had to work doubly hard to prove my capabilities and to be taken seriously as a woman. However, I just decided to let my work speak for itself. There was no point in becoming defensive about my gender. I just took a very neutral approach to any bias coming my way and kept silently creating a difference for my clients and their business. And, yes, never asking for concessions or special treatment (on account of my gender) was a big part of this.
I often had to travel to remote hinterland areas to visit clients, and I negotiated internally with stakeholders to create value pricing for my clients. I learned about their pain points so that I could address them to the best of my ability. As their account manager, I understood that to win their trust and confidence, I had to create way more value than the basic services offered. I started sharing market intel with them, such as trade information about their business. I found solutions for them to bring down their logistics costs, such as route optimisation. By reducing shipment turnaround times, they could import larger volumes of material every month, thereby enabling them to sell more.
Basically, the gender bias worked in my favour, as out of necessity, I had to create more, take more action and be more result oriented than I would have been in the absence of the bias. After a while, it stopped being an issue for me, because it was irrelevant once the results materialised for my clients. It is interesting to note that inclusion also influences a company’s culture too. Employees become actively engaged at work when they believe the culture is inclusive. If they have a sense of belonging, they perform better. Conversely, disengagement and attrition can often be attributed, in part, to a lack of inclusion.
Summiit Cheema - President - WISTA India
Founder - Dycecorp
To conclude, if you are hiring, then look for talented people with an impressive track record and who fit the bill, irrespective of their gender. If you are being hired, demonstrate to your prospective employer why they should hire you and what skillset you bring to the table. Seek out companies that promote an inclusive culture. A diverse workforce is an enriched one and fosters success, innovation and advancement.