By Hanjali Permalloo, Chief Officer Operational Excellence of Rogers Capital Corporate Services
The experience of the last two years has left an indelible mark in our minds and set us on a new path – we’ve lived through the global pandemic, witnessed significant movements toward equality and have seen more organisations commit to strengthening their stances on equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.
From an organisational perspective, much of the focus has been on the growing representation of women in leadership. Between driving crucial inclusion initiatives to pioneering work in various fields of innovation, today’s generation of women leaders is proving that there is nothing stopping women from rising to new heights in business — even amidst a pandemic. While management believe that gender should not be a determining factor in defining leadership, there are valuable competencies of which women are better at. Women are better at interpersonal skills such as “inspires and motivates,” “communicates powerfully,” “collaboration/teamwork,” and “relationship building” all of which women leaders display higher levels of hence leading to better leadership effectiveness.
Female leaders tend to have better-developed emotional agility which makes them more inclined to adopt a more collaborative and empathetic style and which enables them to be more impactful in influencing others and building trust to create productive and effective teams. They are more likely to develop and grow people by bringing out their potential through coaching and mentoring.
It has been a struggle for women to move up the ladder mainly because of preconceived ideas, limiting beliefs and biases, It is refreshing to see that there are more and more open discussions about having more women in leadership roles being addressed both by powerful women and men, leaders that want the best for their people and organisations.
My inspiration and journey so far
I come from a family of strong women, women of character, who are ambitious, cheerful, caring and supportive. My grandmother raised six children while she worked as a teacher and later as a headmistress. My mum who started as a nurse to become the head of nursing officers, while still being the primary care-giver in our home. I have learnt leadership through these two great and inspiring female role models . I once read this quote “behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back and are cheering her on” and I can affirm that this is true, having experienced it myself.
Also, my parents have always encouraged me to stand on my feet and have given me the freedom to choose my own path.
Becoming the COO of Rogers Capital Corporate is an accomplishment of years of hard work, sacrifice, determination. I have gathered many achievements and have learnt through my willingness to experiment, to be creative, to risk failing in service of learning. I pulling myself up the ladder by building and inspiring trust and confidence both with the people I led and my leaders, by showing up, by being my authentic self and by being true to my values. I believe that the power of an organisation is the team and I have always focused on investing in and building high performing teams which was inculcated with high standards, managing complex situations and bringing results that matters.
Female leadership landscape and its practice
Rogers Capital fosters an environment that is open to diversity and growth. For instance, at Rogers Capital Corporate, the population is more female driven and there are quite a few female leaders forming part of the leadership team. The gender parity is 50% female and 50% male, showing a good representation of women at the leadership level.
I believe that more work should be done to promote female leadership at middle management level. The organisational design, structure and culture should be designed to help women unleash their potential to climb up the ladder. There is a shared responsibility for women to lean in and support each other as well as organisations to create systems that favour gender parity.
Leading differently to men
Women lead with a sense of purpose, with passion and empathy. They are more conscious of the ethical consequences of their decisions and are more willing to invest energy in coaching and mentoring, promoting collaboration and co-creation.
There have always been very strong female leaders like Rosa Parks, , Marie Curie, , Margaret Thatcher, and more recently Ruth Bader Ginsberg who made their mark on history. Today, we have powerful. compassionate leaders like Indra Nooyi, Sheryl Sandberg, Jacinda Arden, who are passionate about their beliefs and causes and who are playing a significant role in paving the way for more female leaders to follow.
Personal leadership style and development
I adapt the way I engage as a leader based on the nuances of the situation while always remaining true to being a bold purpose-driven leader. This means that I pause, assess and then make bold decisions in a humane way. The impact of this is that I engage, support, empower and encourage people to develop their potential and they in turn deliver exceptional results.
I have learned that when you inspire trust, integrity and ownership, people will follow and support you to accomplish your wildest mission. These qualities are deeply rooted in the way I lead an organisation.
For the next three to five years, my mission is to continue transforming organisations and nurturing young talented start-ups in their quest to innovate for the betterment of the world. I also like to coach women on their entrepreneurial journey and actively support women in organisations so that they develop their true potential and move up the corporate ladder, where they are needed.
Fostering diversity and breaking the glass ceiling
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has accelerated the promotion of women in leadership roles. We have seen the emergence of DEI as a role in many multinational organisations contributing to creating awareness and to supporting women in building the confidence to take up leadership roles. We also see that International Women’s Day is celebrated with an ever greater impact worldwide.
We will see a more equitable world when organisations start building support systems and inner networks that encourage, train and elevate women to new heights. There need to be a fundamental change in mindset, organisational systems and culture where women can own the space and take their seat at the boardroom table. Where women are recognised for their worth and their value they bring to the organisation and are given the right support in terms of coaching and mentoring foster greater levels of equality and diversity at all levels.
As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Hence women deserve to have a more equitable place in any public and private organisation.
Building the network effect
As women, we were conditioned from birth to be agreeable and self-effacing, to never put ourselves forward. This is one of the biggest challenges that women face as they rise to leadership roles. We forget that women build phenomenal networks because building communities come more naturally to women. So when it comes to building opportunities not only within organisations, but across sectors and across countries, women can benefit from becoming involved in different associations and networks, which allow them to build their knowledge, sharpen the skills, find mentors and find like-minded peers to support them on their career journey. In the virtual world, there are unparalleled opportunities to join women’s organisations at international level, such as Women in Africa, and in Mauritius there are organisations on the ground such as Association Mauricienne des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises (AMFCE), Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIOD) or WeEmpower which are also offering opportunities for training and networking which can help women to reach the next level.
The power of finding your purpose
Live with purpose
One of the most powerful things I recently learned is living in alignment with my purpose. Finding your purpose gives you the courage to stand up for what you believe in and fight for it. It is your life compass in guiding you to make strategic choices as well as supporting you through tough times.
Be your authentic self
Your voice matter and I think women should speak up. Your opinion may make all the difference in how problems are solved and how people are inspired – don’t be afraid to ask questions or admit you do not know the answer. Be your authentic self and believe in yourself. Take time out to self-reflect, be self-aware and understand the impact your words and behaviours have on others.
Keep on learning
Be ready to take up new challenges, as each opportunity allows you to meet new people and gives you exposure to learn new things. Find the right sponsors or mentors who will be part of your voice in the organisation. Recognise, support and coach other women. It is important to have female role models, mentors, and friends around you to inspire each other and build upon each other’s strengths. Only then will women finally achieve recognition of their rightful place as true leaders.