It was the Summer of ’76, when the scoreboard at the Olympics first showed that change was in the offing, and that the scoreboard needed a full revamp. The record set until then in Gymnastics – and the maximum recording capacity of scoreboards – was 9.99, but something dramatic had happened. Someone had cracked a near impossible feat – a perfect 10! Nadia Comaneci, the first person in the world to crack a perfect 10. A woman. History was made! It heralded a new benchmark for mankind, besides scoreboards having to change to reflect 10.
Cut to 1979, another cliché was being created, to do with a perfect ‘10’. An anecdotal juxtaposition of the measure of a woman and Bo Derek’s now famous run on a beach in Greece. Memory of the latter is probably more vivid than the former. And those different ends of a spectrum by which women are judged by most, is just to make a point that the world has moved on since then. And positively, so this analogy is no longer true. Women have come into their own, and powerfully so. Across business, politics, industry, music, the arts, science, information technology and high-level boardrooms, women have gone from glory to greater glory, replete with successes and the guts and gumption needed to survive in a male-dominated world. How times have changed.
It is 2019 and the paradigm has changed. We see the finest of professional and talented women rising to the uppermost echelons of boardrooms, in positions of responsibility, carrying the ambitions of their companies into the future, besides having utmost clarity on their own intent and ambition. Some of the most admired global brands and many of India’s finest too have women at the helm of affairs. Look around, count them and see how successful they have made their respective companies. As we progress, in the remotest of places, we can see woman power emerging.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, it is worth reiterating that when you educate a woman, you educate a generation. How apt and how true! These societal steps will be giant leaps as reboot and programme our minds. Laws such as the recent diktat on compulsory inclusion of women on Company Boards will also drive the change. We have by now discovered that women bring commitment, professional integrity and a strong emotional quotient to succeed in an otherwise unequal and competitive world. Actually, the best way to approach this is to think of men and women being of one gender in a company: colleagues. And then may the best and most talented emerge the winner.
The question is: Is this enough? There’s still some way to go.We need to identify the real, magnified or perceptual barriers that still exist. That sees numbers dropping off as we move up the hierarchy. Look at any morning flight across our metro cities, and count the number of women off to conduct business elsewhere, and therein lies a tale. The number must increase if we wish our nation to progress. Organisations must create a positive culture that encourages equality and supports a healthy work-life balance and ensures safety of women. There has to be policy protection and acknowledgement of the fact that many women will take time off to raise a family, and that we must collectively encourage them to return and pursue their ambitions.Think of a company without values like aesthetics, design, fashion or flair and what that brings to contemporariness, branding and marketing – and you will truly realise the power of the ‘W factor’. Today, we can no longer indulge in gender-based conversations.It has to be about correcting the imbalance. And creating the new normal.