Work-Life Balance Challenging, But Not Impossible
Women may still be a minority in technology sector, but as their power rises, so does their accountability and visibility. In an recent interaction with CXOToday, Pallavi Singh, Director, E-Commerce Operations, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, discusses how it feels like to become a women leader in the tech industry, challenges of women leaders in IT, about work-life balance and many more.
Pallavi Singh: Academically, I am a CA. I have worked in a couple of medium tier CA firms in audit. Then, I moved on to Tax Advisory in KPMG. Post the same, I moved on to the E-commerce space which I believed was the next revolution with respect to retail in India. I started out on this journey in 2015 and have seen the e-commerce space grow manifolds since then. It was a very tough act to take a traditional manufacturing company like ours to go online and createa market space for us. But now, I can safely say that about 70-80% of our business is online.
CXOtoday: What are the unique challenges Indian women leaders are facing in the field of technology? How are these challenges similar or different from their western counterparts?
Pallavi Singh: Women in today’s day and age are well seen in equivalent roles to those of their male counterparts in plenty of fields. However, I feel there are still some roles in which the society perceives it difficult to imagine a woman fitting into. The Indian societal pressures along with bias that exists underneath makes it difficult for women to strike the ideal work-life balance. We, as women, are always judged for working the extra hours which might be regular working hours for a male.
Having said the above, our western counterparts may face relatively lesser issues. A simple concept such as paternity leave is available to those abroad but not in our country as a male is perceived to be the bread earner and is never pressurized to take time off to cater to children.
Each society comes with a different set of challenges and to compare would not be very fair since the ecosystem behind each is very different.
CXOtoday: We do not see more women in the CIO or a similar senior role still. What needs to be done about it? Do you see things are changing for the better?
Pallavi Singh: Given that roles to the tune of CIO/CEO’s are highly demanding, women are perceived as not being able to handle the same. Also, the fact that the sacrifice to get to the top of the ladder, for women, is substantially more. Not of all us may be fortunate enough to receive the kind of support required where we are pushed to go get what we want. Alternatively, not all women may be willing to give up all that is needed because anatomically women are not wired that way.
In the past year, simply looking at the Fortune 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 lists, we see that only a minor percentage belongs to women. However, it still an improvement from the past years and I know that the number increases in the coming years.
A better support system, a better work life balance, equal treatment are only a few of those things that can help the above list transform in an equilateral one. I personally do see this happening slowly and steadily and see the mindset of people changing to one where they want to see the women of the family achieve higher standards in their career.
CXOtoday: How do you think inclusion of female executives and other board member help in reducing the gender gap?
Pallavi Singh: I see this as a healthy step as women are getting the positions of which they are worthy as well as making the organization and board more respectful towards woman leaders.
CXOtoday: What would be your organization’s priorities in the next one year?
Pallavi Singh: In the coming year, we are trying to further expand our reach along with our online strategic partner, Flipkart. We are also trying to build a more extensive after sales support system so that our customer satisfaction is more than a 100%.
CXOtoday: What are your hobbies?
Pallavi Singh: I like to travel and read.
CXOtoday: What is your advice for women CIOs and entrepreneurs?
Pallavi Singh: Be the best of you and the rest will follow.