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This is a book that those interested in understanding the scenario of leadership and diversity may like to read as well as those in leadership roles

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Poonam Barua’s Leadership by Proxy: The Story of Wom- en in Corporate India (Bloomsbury) is a book that will resonate with practically every woman who has worked in corporate India. It touches on the key issues women face at work and also sets out some points ‘to trigger thinking’ such as common stereotyping and scepticism of women about organisation’s intent among others.

The author draws on her career experience spanning corporates and institutions and as Founder-Chairman of the “Forum for Women in Leadership, WILL. This was launched in 2007, with a mission and vision for creating opportunities and larger role for women for progressive national and corporate development (from foreword).

Reading the book, however, leaves one feeling discouraged and disheartened. While the author sets out making a case for inclusiveness and diversity, corporate India does not appear to be convinced and that is where the book seems to lack the punch and persuasiveness to make a difference. This is disheartening since WILL has some of the best known names and business in India supporting it and working with it. The book reads like a mix of a journal and a report on the activities of WILL. There are chapters and content on womenomics, guide to mentoring, retaining women, balanced boards, mother’s hand book etc. and more. There are stories of women and men in leadership interspersed with the author’s experiences and personal journey of leadership. Perhaps taking more time and thought to the structure and the take away to the readers would have improved the impact of the book, which was written in 45 days. One wonders why the editors have not given more thought to the style and the structure of this book.

Despite these shortcomings, this is a book that those interested in understanding the scenario of leadership and diversity may like to read as well as those in leadership roles. They will get a flavour of what needs to be fixed and suggestions on how they could take steps to fix it at their organisations.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Anjana Vivek

The author is Founder-Director, VentureBean Consulting

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