For women navigating the glass ceiling is about undoing centuries of social biases, say experts

A panel discussion on ‘Navigating the Glass Ceiling’, was recently organised by the Lean In India chapter in New Delhi.


Women have been subject to biases at the workplace and at home for centuries. The glass ceiling that the society has defined for centuries is being challenged by some fiery spirited women.


A panel discussion on ‘Navigating the Glass Ceiling’, was recently organised by the Lean In India chapter which was moderated by Urvee Juneja, SVP, Three D Integrated Solutions, University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 


The panelists included: Pravin Goel-MD, BlackRock, Sukriti Gupta, Co-founder, Sipping Thoughts, Dinakar Adhyam, MD, Saint Gobain and Poonam Barua, CEO WLL, India. 


The panel began with a question about gender inequality at the workplace where women are 18 per cent less likely to be promoted than their male counterparts.  


Speaking about the issue, Poonam Barua of WLL India said, “In my view the first glass ceiling is : where is the appetite to break it and how to create it. You have to create an appetite for what you think is right. We are 500 million women in India , that is 8 percent of the world's population. The big question is who is going to unlock the huge potential that they have. Another challenge is having lesser women in top positions who are ready to listen. Most importantly we should remember that leadership does not belong to anybody, leadership belongs to everybody.” 


“I think its not about Men Vs Women, it’s not just a feminist issue , its a social issue. Having said that, we need to undo hundreds of years of biases to address the issue,” added Pravin Goel-MD, BlackRock. 


 Dinakar Adhyam, MD, Saint Gobain spoke about how his company was creating an encouraging environment for women leaders to thrive. He said that all companies should adopt such practices to reduce gender bias. “We have created an environment that actively encourages women to seek leadership roles. The biggest challenge women face is the dual role that nature imposes on them. Companies now have newer policies for women taking maternal breaks , but we still need to have better policies in terms of how to get them back to work in  a way where it is easier for them to resume work.” 


When asked if women listen to their inner critic more often and how can they break the glass ceiling, Sukriti Gupta of Sipping Thoughts said, “When i started my career we had many role models and when I worked with Nokia we had a strong woman leader who inspired us to relook at the gender equation. When you see women in close proximity breaking the glass ceilings it inspires you to play at the same level where men are playing.” 

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