What to do when you cannot go around the world seeking adventure? You just switch from one career to another that is poles apart, and you will discover all the gems of your life. Speaking of gems, we were delighted to have interviewed one such personality who made bold life choices and turned this mere aphorism into a reality – Maj. Pallavi Shivanna (Retd), ex-army officer and VP of HR at Fincare Small Finance Bank.
“A woman in the armed forces? How did her parents allow it? A woman is not competent to lead men in the army.” — These are just the surface-level prejudices and discriminatory comments that women face in the ‘male-dominated’ profession of the army. Sharing some more profound insights about her time in the army as a woman, Pallavi shares,
“It is one thing to command soldiers or the men who work for you and get their respect, but it is a challenge to make your fellow officers accept you and make you part of the clan.”
A career in the armed forces is precarious enough as it is. Yet, gender discrimination seeps in. “Leadership is genderless,” Maj. Pallavi asserts firmly. “Once you are a leader, nobody cares if you are a gentleman or a lady,” she continues. But that has not been the case with her fellow officers. It is no secret that sometimes having a woman in charge may make some men feel or behave differently.
“Once you are in the army, do not expect to be treated differently because you are a woman.”
A hard-hitting response by Maj. Pallavi when asked if women can sustain in the army after a few years in service. “Irrespective of the fact that somebody is a man or a woman, if they are choosing to join the army, they need to be ready for any challenges thrown at them at any point in time,” says Maj. Shivanna. In the 9th year of her service, Pallavi began her career transition. Shedding some light on that, she says,
“The army and the corporate world both have their share of challenges.”
Maj. Pallavi decided to pursue either HR or marketing as her new career path. Reminiscing on the tough choice, she credits her professor, who advised her to pursue HR for Maj. Pallavi is a people person. “I love interacting with people. I simply enjoy being around them,” she affirms. This personality trait of hers got her to start this new career path.
“HR as a function can drive change in any organization. But…”
Maj. Pallavi continues, “Being an HR person, one should first create value for themselves, then for the department, and then their stakeholders will pay attention to them.” “As an HR professional, it is important to focus on how you communicate your message across,” she opens up while discussing her challenges in getting her suggestions to reach the stakeholders.
HR is a facilitator in creating safe workplaces but ultimately, it’s the organization’s vision- Pallavi on HR’s impact to tackle workplace harassment.
She talks about her current organization’s policy when she says, “Aside from PoSH, we have zero tolerance for any sort of harassment across all levels and hierarchy.” Speaking more on Fincare Small Finance Bank’s work culture, she shares, “We ensure diversity across gender, education and generations. We work together and function as a team.”
“As an organization, we can give women the opportunity, a roadmap to help them grow. However, it is a missing factor.”
Speaking of how organizations exhibit soft discrimination, Maj. Pallavi states one of the instances: “When a woman goes on maternity leave, doubts start spiraling about their competency at their jobs and how they can juggle between work and being a parent.” “This ideology needs to change. Organizations need to focus on the talent, ambitions, and individuality of women,” stresses Maj. Pallavi.
Why do only women need to take a career break? The way we look at bringing up a child and the contribution of both parents is important, says Maj. Pallavi.
She explains that building a safe, inclusive workspace is a joint effort of the HR department and the employees of the organization. In her parting comments, Maj. Pallavi says, “Women, on their part, should be vocal about their aspirations and speak of their ambitions out loud.” And to answer the age-old, infamous question: how can women balance their personal and professional lives? Maj. Shivanna advises, “Keep professional and personal life separate so that you know where to draw the line. Not to carry work back home, not to bring personal issues into the office. Both hamper productivity.”
The takeaway here from this conversation is simple – gender bias has no space in career choices and workspaces. Maj. Pallavi stands true to this belief and encourages the younger generation to embark on the same.
International Women’s Day Summit – Shakti
The celebration of Women’s Day 2021 at KelpHR was marked by a panel of influential individuals who came forward for a forthright discussion on the matter of global importance – women’s empowerment – a subject matter that is far from saturation. Gender discrimination, hostile workplace environment, disability rights and quantitative solutions and more were a part of one of these dialogues and panels at the IWD 2022 – Shakti by KelpHR.
At KelpHR we believe that having a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is the key to business trans-formation and growth and that we must be inclusive of all persons irrespective of any differences. To know more about KelpHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion solutions do call us at +91-95001-29652, email email@example.com, visit www.kelphr.com
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve work-place culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at work-place), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.