Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.…It shouldn't be that women are the exception - says a wise quote by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Similarly, in the IT industry women are finally finding themselves in decision making roles unlike earlier. Things are surely looking up for women slowly yet steadily - and Jayati Roy, Director, HR, at Barco firmly believes that pandemic has opened upon further avenues for women.
DQ: How has the perception towards women in technology changed over the years?
Jayati Roy: Over the years, the perception towards women in technology has changed dramatically, from a stage where women were primarily relegated to tier-two roles, with their output being viewed through the lens of marriage and maternity leaves, to the stage where women are leading several teams and being hired for the unique perspectives they bring in. Women perform some key roles more effectively than their male counterparts and we are seeing a fundamental shift in the way the industry is working, growing, developing and maturing. The perception towards women has changed from that of tier-two citizens to people who are equals, not because somebody believes them to be equal, but because they have really command the respect and proven themselves over the years.
DQ: What are your thoughts on diversity in the technology industry?
Jayati Roy: Diversity is a very broad term and, in the technology industry, we've seen diversity ratios increasing over the years, indicating that several positions are being taken up by women. Two things have enabled this –the influx of women-friendly policies and work environments, and the growing number of women leaders and mentors supporting diversity. Women leaders have proven their credibility and established the effectiveness of having more women leaders. We must now stop focusing on just diversity and work towards inclusion. There are women in the workforce but are they really included? Do they feel like a part of the team? Do they face challenges? For example, do you still have all men or only men cigarette breaks and other gender stereotypes? We should be doing away with those kinds of habits and practices to create a more inclusive workplace.
DQ: The pandemic has thrown up several challenges for women. How have you dealt with it, and helped your team deal with it?
Jayati Roy: The pandemic has been a revelation as well as a challenging situation for women. By revelation I mean the flexibility and capacity unlocked through hybrid working, which is now a reality enabling people to work from home without compromising on their output. This has opened up many avenues for women. The challenges included women starting to feel burnt out in the process of managing children, home and work responsibilities. This prompted all of us to take more conscious calls with regard to our careers and Barco has taken all possible effort to make the transition easier for the employees.
DQ: What are some of the measures that need to be introduced to help women employees sail through the pandemic?
Jayati Roy: Given the fact that the pandemic is wearing off now, we expect more and more women to return to the mainstream workforce. What's worked well for us and our teams is the connect, the power of human connection. Having the ability to reach out to colleagues, along with a strong network of women within the organization, has helped foster an effective voicing system. This ensures that employees have someone to reach out to and communicate with. Barco’s Employee Assistance Program has also helped tremendously, with counselors available round the clock. This has ensured that if women need to share or discuss things, or voice their concerns, it is possible 24*7. The organization has been very flexible and understanding and we've had meetings where kids have walked in and out, where meeting times have been rescheduled without any pressure, because we understand the demands of family. We've also celebrated small milestones, fostering positive elements frequently, in addition to offering small bites of development initiatives. We have set milestones for women to help them pick up tasks and roles and grow along the way.
DQ: What are the steps that are needed to be taken to ensure more participation from women?
Jayati Roy: At Barco, we believe that the proof of the pudding is within the teams. We've seen two women take on team leadership roles in the last two years, right in the middle of the pandemic. This indicates that the initiatives discussed above are working and boosting women’s participation and inclusion. We have always strived to create an equitable workplace focused on gender parity and we can proudly say that, Barco is a Great Place to Work, for all genders. From offering empowerment sessions and leadership training, to ensuring a clear flow of communication between the teams and senior management, we have fostered a diverse organization aimed at ensuring optimal participation from all team members, especially women. At an organizational level, more participation of women can be ensured through steps such as equal opportunities, equal recognition and appreciation of work, equal profiles and equal pay structures. In addition, women can participate better if they enjoy work flexibility so organizations should create a work culture focused on flexibility, adaptability, resilience and inclusivity.