In an exclusive interaction with SightsIn, we have Ranga Ranmadugala, Chief Executive Officer of Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited – Essentials, She is significantly one of the first female Directors to be appointed to the Board of Brandix Apparels Limited. While playing a pivotal role in steering the company in a strategic direction, Ranga embodies the strength, confidence and drive of an empowered female leader, and represents the diverse and inclusive culture of Brandix. She shares her thoughts with us on career challenges for women & Gender Equality.
Q- Thanks for your precious time, Companies are committing to Gender Equality, tell us your view points for the same and model of Gender Equality at Brandix.
‘Gender equality in Organizations’ should enable both men and women the freedom to think freely, reach out for similar opportunities, should have access to similar resources, enjoy similar rewards and have similar recognition and respect.
This is the general belief which I agree to.
However I also believe that women should strive to ‘EARN’ all above without relying on someone to create the above space for them too.
Therefore for me the model has to be a two way process. Whilst the organization sponsors the Gender Equality Mechanism, Working Women should strive to earn the status too.
MODEL OF GENDER EQUALITY AT BRANDIX
Brandix has over fifty thousand employees across several countries of which approximately 85% are female workforce. One reason for this is the nature of the industry we operate in where the blue collar workforce are mostly women. We practice below model.
Number one priority is that Brandix has set a well-defined policy of respecting women at work which is public knowledge to all employees. This naturally enables the rejection of those who purposely attempt to disrespect women at work in any form. An escalation process and structure is in place for this.
Parallel to that, a formal independent structure is in place for counselling for women who have come across such incidents at work or at home.
2-Wellbeing of women
There is a carefully outlined process where Brandix tends to needs of these females throughout their lifecycle.
Since women tend to associate with water most of their time at home washing, cleaning; Brandix focuses towards providing clean water to their doorstep as much as possible. Once again this works through a process and a structure where women in need can reach out independently.
The next generation – the children of our women at work benefit in terms of educational aids which enables uplifting of the next generation in terms of literacy. This is the wish of all mothers at work!
Whilst most of the above holds true for the ‘executive’ females of Brandix, this category is being focused upon with a separate intensity altogether.
- Sponsorship at the highest level
- The Chairman and Group CEO both talk the talk AND walk the talk on this topic just like any other key business decision. They are quite outspoken on this subject and act on it too.
- The recent addition of two females into the Operating board of Brandix Apparel was one such bold step of acting on their belief.
- The two way model I mentioned earlier has been put to practice with the above move and now this model could be used to scale up the proof of concept across Brandix.
Q- Which are the 5 big issues women face at work and what can companies do to increase the representation of women?
In my opinion top five big issues are-
- Disrespect / disregard from other colleagues, superiors (not only males, even females).
- Lack of confidence others have in women, that they can create the same (or better) results as men.
- Conventional beliefs that prevail in those around women (within households and at work).
- Non availability of the support structure both at work and at home to enable. Females to put in the mind time needed to enable them to grow their career, have a work life balance.
- The lack of confidence in women themselves, lack of stretch the females are willing to go through; the victim mindset females hold
What companies can do; first is to ensure that this is truly adopted in the company
- Sponsorship by leaders
- Inclusion of this area in the strategy of the company
- Arrive at key goals, set measurements that are objective and reward
- Reduction of turnover of talented females
- Changes in employees’ quality of work life
- Creation of an inclusive environment
- Review the progress at the highest level at shorter intervals – repetitive reviews and enablement to ensure this is embedded into the DNA of the organization
I am a firm believer that; what gets sponsored at the top gets meaningfully measured and what gets meaningfully measured gets done with impact.
Second, consciously assist women at work to build confidence in them and create a process to invite them to do so this should be led by internal mentors, leaders and this effort by internal sponsors could be fine-tuned by external coaching assistance for each party – the sponsors and women who go through the change.
Q- What is inclusive culture to you and strategies to build more diverse & inclusive workplace?
Inclusive culture is truly practiced if the individual’s unique talent, qualities, personality is accepted as is without the person having to acclimatize to the existing dominating culture in the organisation. The person should feel included without compromising the unique personality traits in self.
Strategies to build a diverse and inclusive workplace
- First step is to build the foundations required which I spoke about in terms of sponsorship at the top, include this as part of the organizational strategies, set goals and measurements with a review mechanism, reward and recognition.
- Fine tune the process to bring in more diversity in many ways, not only gender.
- Encourage the system to change to adopt uniqueness brought in by diverse teams / individuals.
- Once again this needs to be an agenda in the C-suite or Board of Directors and constantly challenged, rewarded and recognised when done.
I love to believe that if these cycles are repeated often as part of the strategy reviews, it will allow the organisation to make a dramatic change in time to come.
Q- What is #Me Too Campaign to you, and how can men help for meaningful change?
In my opinion it’s good to remind everyone that there is a real issue in hand which needs much more action than celebrities calling out the issue, good to elevate the awareness levels that this issue prevails in every part of the world, in every society, irrespective of hierarchy, community. It is provoking a sizeable change in action in the legal systems around the world and good for women to realise they cannot be the victim hence formulate action against being a victim.
However I do think each one of us should also create an environment around us where we do not become victims or allow becoming victims – behavior, action, intentions have to be portrayed so that there is a reduced chance of becoming a victim.
Men in power should create this above sizeable change in action in the legal system as well as the social system.
Men who support women genuinely should come out publically to support this cause without feeling small in front of others for doing so – this need not be a shameful exercise.
Q- What is your advice for HR professionals to flourishing in the AI revolution!
When AI revolution sets in, there is bound to be a huge change in the eco systems that we work in. Each time a new cycle of revolution starts, there will be a new result generated which closes the loop in forming a new eco system. This should create new opportunities in the new eco system which has to be observed through its life cycle.
If this observation is done by HR professionals with a mindset to figure out the new opportunities that arise in the employment market, in building careers; the adjustment needed in the HR world will be faster and result would be that better opportunities are found for a working society.
Q- Tell us something about Brandix’s current and future projects in India?
A decade or so ago, Brandix visualized really big in terms of its footprint in India. This enabled Brandix to strategise into this big dream and today the results speak for it. We have by far one of the best self sufficient supply chain cities set up in India where a number of pioneering efforts for Brandix, its employees, its customers, supply chain partners and communities have experienced.
Our plans in India for the next decade are bigger than what we set out to do earlier. That is all I can mention until some of them come to life. We are firm believers that India is an emerging economy where tremendous opportunities await to be unraveled.
Q- What is your message for women who want to be great at their job?
The only message for any woman from me is that it is your decision to be great at what you do – no one else’s.
- You can choose to pave your way through the challenges that come across you for being a woman OR you can choose to behave like the victim. Chose the first and PAVE YOUR WAY – Yes it is tough, but what isn’t tough?
- Choose your battles in small chunks, PAVE YOUR WAY on small battles, come out of each one – one at a time. Repeat the cycle in every battle in smaller chunks. Naturally you will come out as a winner in most cases. Don’t feel let down by losses in this process, move on to the next battle and do the same.
- Make mistakes, doesn’t matter – learn from them and move on.
- The only difference that I see is that the effort needed for women at work might be higher – that does not mean it’s impossible.
Thank you Ranga!