Dear All,

SAP Labs India was adjudged #1 in “Great place to work” survey for “Supporting Women to remain at Work” this year. It is with immense pride SAP Labs India hosted the “SAP Women in Tech” Summit on 7th Sept, 2015.  The event was attended by around 400 women professionals comprising of middle to senior women from technology companies, students from select engineering colleges in Bangalore, our associate companies and of course our women colleagues from SAP and few brave men. I would love to see the number of men increase though in the next summit.

This blog is about my thoughts on how such an event helps women professionals.

Usually I don’t find most of the women centric events interesting as the topics are more stereotype, it starts from work-life balance and ends on work-life balance. With the advent of globalization and smart devices, it’s more work life integration these days. For this summit we, the organizing committee, made it a point to include lot of technical topics from our technical women leaders in various domains and it was such a pleasure to listen from these leaders on variety of topics. So there is a talk on cloud, mobility, rack scale architecture and yours truly also gave a session on microservices. The agenda and the speaker details can be checked here . Check the twitter handle #SAPtechpowHer for the summit updates.

Many of us might think that why such an event focusing on women only. The woman professional is at par with the male counterparts. As long as she is proving herself and delivering results continuously, why should we make any bone of the fact that she is a woman? The woman professional should be getting promoted or recognized based on her work and gender has got nothing to do with it. Mostly true. Having said that, there are different challenges which women face in their personal or professional life. So having such events provide more insights on why companies like SAP are investing so much in women’s career and how these events help groom a woman professional towards more leadership positions.

It’s a known fact that Diversity – be it gender based, region based or any other type of diversity helps in coming up with a more holistic picture. The teams with such diversity produce better results. For example if people from only one country are part of a team, they might completely miss out on the practices followed in other regions and thus the design wouldn’t be complete.

Most of the people are aware that having diverse teams has its own advantages and yet we see that 1) Women in same position are paid lesser than their male counterparts. 2) There are very few women at top leadership positions.

Why is that ? 

The summit helped in understanding some of these disparities –

  1. Women generally are shy about talking their achievements. One doesn’t need to be aggressive, but need to at least proudly talk about what one has achieved so far.
  2. Similarly women rarely negotiate their salaries unlike their male counterparts.
  3. Women need to actively engage more in networking. It’s not just enough to do your work and let you work speak for itself. No, we need to engage with others. When we network we not just learn from others, we may find a potential mentor or a career sponsor.

Through such summits, we get to learn from the top women leaders what they did to be different, how they climbed the corporate ladders? There is no one-size-fit-all, so the same solution may not work for all. However one does get to learn some tips and tricks and can brainstorm on what would work for one the best.

And of course one does get to learn

– about the new topics,

– the exciting stuff that people are involved these days,

– the new buzzwords in technology,

– how the user experience can be manipulated,

– how IoT, cloud , mobility, microservices are shaping up the business decisions,

– how the intellectual property needs to be preserved and collaborated on with your competitors,

– where the world is moving to and

– how the current trends are going to shape the future etc. etc.

In all, definitely event worth attending. I am looking forward to the next year’s event, hoping that this would become an annual event.

Signing off for now. And as usual awaiting your feedback.

With Best Regards,

Priyanka

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4 Comments

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  1. Navya B

    Very nice article.

    To add to the list of concerns for a woman in tech, when a women conceives, it hits her career real hard esp., when there is no strong HR policies empowering the women employees. Some companies, ask women employees to resign based on mutual understanding because she would go on maternity leave for few months. I have seen couple of cases. This is really alarming for girls like me when I think of myself in that situation sometime in future. Ofcourse, SAP HR policies might be women employee friendly. But, if we look outside, it’s a dirty game.

    What can we do about it? I know it’s more of a HR relevant question but since women in tech is focusing on empowering women at work on the whole, I thought it’s a good forum to discuss this topic.

    Many start-ups are budding and blooming in our very own silicon valley. In most of those companies, there would not be any strong HR policies esp., for women it’s really hard to survive in such an environment when there are not even basic necessities such as sick room let alone strong maternity policies.

    Also, when a women voices out her opinion, its being mocked at most of the work places ( irrespective of start-up or a big firm ) without any respect for it.

    Working for a start-up is the current trend since the learning curve is considered way better than working for a big organisation. But, for most of the women, inspite of being capable of outstanding the rest in terms of technology, it becomes hard to survive in a start-up due to various aforementioned reasons.

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    1. Priyanka Porwal Post author

      Thanks Navya for the kind words and also expressing your thoughts so candidly.

      Many companies are now starting to invest more towards women’s career specially the MNCs. Of course SAP is the leader here. You brought in a good point for start-ups, here the statutory limits can be brought in. By law itself, there is a minimum maternity leave period and I heard of some discussions towards increasing this maternity leave period. If person is good, maybe startups will also think of providing leave without pay kind of options if someone needs more than statutory maternity leave.

      Respect at work is very important, if someone gets mocked despite expertise, it’s anyways not the right place to be in either for startup or for big organizations.

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      1. Navya B

        Thanks Priyanka for acknowledging my comment. Despite the law on maternity leave, some companies manipulate and compromise the law by agreeing to provide pay during minimum period of maternity leave and then asking employee to resign and join back based on the availability and requirement later on. This is basically to save the employer’s PF contribution and so on. Employer might call back the employee because of the requirement and the employee’s performance. But, when you have to resign for this reason, it impacts the morale of that woman and puts her into confusion state when she has to join back for work. Also, she has to put her efforts in finding jobs once she is ready to get back to work, which is not fair. Women is a victim here. This devoids her from being self-dependent for sometime until she gets back to work.

        The question here is how can we create a platform to support and empower women working for start-ups and other small organisations to address various issues. I am not putting all the blame on the company since start-ups and small organisations have limitations on funds and other stuff. But, to encourage a women to go for such companies, it’s really important to address this issue.

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        1. Priyanka Porwal Post author

          It’s really sad if such practices are being deployed. I feel these are not the places to be IN. In long term, the women will anyways not get recognized in such companies, so I feel its better to join a company which recognizes woman’s efforts and caliber. A person who is creative will bring value to any company – be it small or big. So innovation can be brought about the person themselves.

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