Corporate houses are becoming more accommodating to women: Punam SinghNowadays, the corporate houses are becoming more accommodating when it comes to looking after new mothers. Companies have started providing six months maternity leave.
As corporate jobs become increasingly competitive, one needs to give 100 percent effort. Punam Singh, assistant general manager-marketing of Hansraj Hulaschand and Co, a subsidiary of Golchha Organisation, started her career in marketing with Gorkha Brewery. She worked there for three years before joining Golchha Organisation eight years ago. According to Singh, corporate job might look glamorous from the outside but it requires a lot of hard work. In an interview with Krishana Prasain, Singh shares her views on women in corporate jobs and workplace harassment. Excerpts:
What is the state of women’s participation in the corporate sector?
Over the years, the number of women working in corporate sectors have increased significantly and the future looks promising in that way. Especially the banking and financial sectors have reasonable numbers of women working, from tellers to senior managerial positions. Many corporate houses have also incorporated a strong rule that every department needs to have at least one female employee. This rule is a very progressive step towards empowering women in a professional setting. It has also encouraged and motivated women to perform better.
How hard is it for women to take leadership roles in such companies? Are there equal opportunities?
I do not think it is difficult. It isn’t about gender, anyone leading a company is given the same job with same responsibilities. Many people say women have to juggle work and home, but I think everyone has to manage their personal and professional lives—even men. I don’t think it is any different for men and women.
I believe that as long as you are willing to work hard and reach goals and targets, nothing can obstruct from succeeding. To expect leverage and to expect equality at the same time is absolutely wrong.
So you haven't faced any challenges for being a woman throughout your career?
I acknowledge that there are women whose families aren’t very supportive of their career interests. Fortunately, my parents are liberal and educated, so they understand the nature of my job. I don’t have to rush home as soon as it gets dark. So, I give credit to my family for empowering me, which may not be the case for all women.
What do you advise young people who want to build careers in the corporate sector?
Hard work goes a long way. You need to be confident and strong. If you don’t work hard, you cannot grow. When you are assigned a project, you need to take ownership. You have to be self-disciplined and shouldn’t take your responsibilities lightly. The company’s work is also your work, so you need to be focused. If you don’t take ownership, you will not climb the corporate ladder and will probably remain in base-level roles for a long time. But it is also important to get satisfaction from your work, it will encourage you to deliver your best.
What do you think is lacking in new candidates that you've seen while hiring? How can they upskill?
The biggest problem while hiring candidates, from what I have experienced, is their attitude. Many youth have plans to go abroad, which is why they are not serious about their job and responsibility. Even the ones who want to build careers here in Nepal, they seem to be unable to take constructive criticism.
This mentality of new hirees is hitting all the corporate houses right now. If we want to grow then we have to learn. Young people should understand that before they have high expectations from the company regarding their career, they are also equally responsible to adjust and learn in their earlier days. Nothing happens overnight. They need to experience the ground’s reality and work continuously and consistently to achieve what they desire.
How do you define workplace harassment? What are your suggestions to cope with the situation? How should the company deal with such cases?
In an ideal situation, workplace harassment shouldn’t even exist. It is something that hampers the entire work environment. There is zero tolerance policy for harassment in our workplace.
Any form of harassment is unacceptable and anyone failing to abide by the rules will be fired. This rule applies to everyone—be it men or women. A workplace should be a safe space for everyone. There should be certain degree of respect and professionalism in work.
It is also important to stand up for yourself. If someone is harassing you, then you shouldn’t hesitate to speak up about your experience. The company should also have robust guidelines to tackle such unhealthy behaviour and take immediate action if a such thing is to happen. We have a habit of not taking the rules seriously unless it is implemented.
Women are sometimes forced to quit their career in favour of domestic/household responsibilities. How can companies help those who seek to continue their career?
Nowadays, the corporate houses are becoming more accommodating when it comes to looking after new mothers. Companies have started providing six months maternity leave.
But there is still a lot of work to be done. Corporate houses can implement flexible hours for women to go home early to feed the baby. We still lack the facilities, such as nurseries at workplace like in foreign countries, that allow mothers to bring children to work. But, hopefully, this may soon change and no women will have to quit their career just to take care of their household responsibilities.