Ladies Study Group members and guests were audience to a most invigorating panel discussion on “Redefining Success As A Woman of Today” with eminent personalities: Indira Jaising, Supreme Court lawyer and India’s first woman additional Solicitor General; Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairperson of State Bank of India; Manisha Girotra, CEO Moelis & co. (investment banking) and Kiran Uttam Ghosh, renowned fashion designer of Kolkata. Paroma Roy Chowdhury, Vice President, corporate communications & public affairs, Soft Bank, moderated the discussion held on 29th June afternoon at the Westin, Kolkata.
Arundhati Bhattacharya’s easy charm was contagious. In a candid chat, she pointed out that women made up 30% in the entry-level bank positions but relatively fell to 4% in senior management. The drop in the curve was due to genuine difficulties faced at the grass-root level i.e. housing problem in the rural areas. Central centers were established enabling women to do assignments in the villages.
Ms Bhattacharya vowed the audience with her one-liners! Some gems from her conversation:
“Be nice and kind to those who form your support system at home, for without them, you can never focus on work,” she advised at one point.
“Replicate yourself, you are not indispensable. Share your knowledge. Let go!” advised the forum’s favourite.
“Your presence should be noted but your absence should not be felt at work,” she stressed.
Ms Indira Jaisingh realising early in her career that ‘Domestic Violence’ was a major issue, which was not addressed by the legal system, took up the cudgels to push to create a new law on Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment at work. Her perseverance led to beautiful crèche being set up in the Supreme Court, which was a boon to young working mothers. Ms. Jaisingh, an entity to reckon with said, ”you must be passionate about what you do, in order to succeed.”
Manisha Girotra unabashedly stated, “We must bring up our sons as daughters in order to change the mindset of society at large.” “When I opted for investment banking 25 years ago, it was a completely male dominated field and I had to endure grueling hours, which wouldn’t have been possible without the unconditional support of my family,” she said. Manisha went one step further stating, “One need not be the primary nurturer. Set your own standards in order to bring the right work-home balance.”
Kiran Uttam Ghosh said she ensured that there was zero tolerance towards sexual harassment in her workplace and encouraged flexible working hours for the female workers. “The meaning of success and failure to me has changed periodically. Today fashion without remuneration excites me. It’s about telling a story- draping a woman in an ensemble which is dramatic and luxurious,” said Kiran.
Breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ and undoing the conventional truly define the women of today and our panel truly demostrated that success lies in striking the right balance!