Behind every success—individual, team or company—there are people behind the scenes—supporting, encouraging and absorbing the extra stress themselves, thereby ensuring success. As organisations we have focused on what we can provide to our employees to support and empower them, however this potentially is just about getting one side right. What gender diversity is but a social change and to get the real benefit the message & the support needs to be not just from the organisation but also for the families of the women employees to understand the key role that they play in the individuality.
We have seen more and more women—women with great potential—wanting to leave mid-career, primarily citing personal /family reasons. Conversations with these colleagues reveal that though they are passionate about their work and would love to continue, they feel guilty about ignoring their home duties, forcing them to take a call. Initiatives like SupportAnchors@Home, we hope, will mark the beginning of a partnership between the organisation and the family to empower women employees, giving them the requisite freedom to pursue their career. Biz Divas Foundation has been instrumental in bringing our thought of an event like this to practicality with their partnership as our consultant for this event.
From this thought has come, a brand new concept, it was developed on the back of a heightening number of female colleagues halting their careers at ‘mid management level’, due to family reasons and household duties.
RBS is making big strides towards being No1 for customer service, trust and advocacy because our people are working with grit, determination and rigor. And enabling them to do that are their SupportAnchors@Home—older members of the family, extended family, spouses, friends, and many others.
To recognize the contribution these support anchors play in the lives of our colleagues (and therefore our customer), the first “SupportAnchors@Home” event was organised for GFS women colleagues in Gurgaon last month.
Supported by Claire Baird, Head of GFS and Ajith Sundaresh, Head of GFS India, the event was a huge success—welcoming over 400 attendees, including 100 colleagues. A special area marked for children ensured the kids were well taken care of and the elders of the family could conduct the day’s business.
Claire Baird, who has been a great supporter and sponsor of diversity and inclusion at GFS, opened the day’s discussions by bringing her own family into the room through photographs and sharing her personal journey of the support and encouragement she has had from her family.
Two panels comprising a good mix of internal and external speakers, including family members—mothers, mothers-in-law, husbands of RBS employees—moderated by Shilpi Singh – Head,Coaching Practice at Biz Divas Foundation, steered the discussions. It was fulfilling to see free flow of conversations, in both English and Hindi across the hall, with audience also actively participating. It led to sharing of some very inspiring and emotional journeys.
Some key observations that came out of the discussions. It was noted that pursuing a career is different from doing a job. And when chasing a career goal, a woman needs greater support—functional and emotional. Yet, when women are allowed to do a job well, careers begin to take shape, leading to dreams.
While the day belonged to the families of colleagues, the highlight of the day was the guest speaker, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur, the first female commanding officer to lead the inter-services Guard of Honour inspected by US President Barack Obama on his India visit. Pooja too shared her personal journey, speaking of her support anchors at each stage of her life—parents, husband and mother-in-law.
She also helped bring out the other perspective of the discussions, which is the gratitude owed to Support Anchors, who work shoulder to shoulder with their women but stay away from the limelight. This event was to celebrate their contribution and share the spotlight with them. As one of the employees shared: “My anchor (my mom) was delighted to attend the event. She felt proud that I work at an organization that appreciates not only the employees’ work but also recognizes parents’ contribution in the successes. I request you to the keep re-kindling the spirit with more of these events.