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75% Women Leaders Emphasise Empathy, Collaboration, Inclusion: Survey

The report highlights the prevalence of socialised beliefs, such as imposter syndrome, which limit one’s leadership vision, with 50 per cent of women leaders experiencing this

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Nearly 73 per cent of emerging women leaders in the social sector believe that continued mentorship and networking support would boost their leadership ambitions, revealed a recent survey.

Critically, 84.1 per cent of respondents believed that a tailored capacity building program would enhance their leadership journey. A [key want] is the knowledge of leadership frameworks which specifically speak to their journey’s, as mid-to-senior career women professionals in the Indian social impact space, and guidance on adapting it to their career path. Similarly, there is a desire for building crucial cross-functional/management skills, including negotiation, conflict management, and effective communication. There is also a desire to build a personal leadership style; 75.6 per cent of respondents cite the desire to build their own leadership style based on the attributes of empathy, collaboration, and inclusion.
The survey by India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS) highlighted the prevalence of socialised beliefs, such as imposter syndrome, which limit one’s leadership vision, with 50 per cent of women leaders experiencing this.

Other takeaways include the importance of having access to a peer community network; 76 per cent of respondents believe their leadership journey would benefit from having access to a network of like-minded women impact leaders, who can freely share their experiences & collectively strategize on how to navigate, and succeed in, the social impact space. Further, there is a clear [statement] that mentorship is a crucial element to amplify one’s leadership path; as the report states, respondents feel men have clearer access to cross-sectoral networks & mentorship opportunities with senior leaders. Building pathways to match emerging women leaders with senior women leaders may play a crucial role in supporting their leadership journeys, as 84.7 per cent respondents’ state. As Tara Singh Vachani, Executive Chairperson of Antara Senior Living and Vice Chairperson of Max India Limited, states, “An ecosystem of support first and foremost starts with giving women leaders a space to voice their needs.”

Finally, the report considers what structural changes need to occur in the development sector to systematically support women’s leadership journeys. By building an ecosystem of support, ranging from working with organization leaders to build inclusive leadership pipelines, to platforming women leaders across the sector, to embedding flexible working policies to support women with familial & childcare responsibilities, the sector can become a model for gender-balanced senior leadership.
“The ‘Emerging Women’s Leadership in the Indian Development Sector’ study highlights the unique challenges that women constantly grapple with and proposes solutions to reduce the current gap in the leadership positions in the social sector. We, at ILSS, believe that this study is an important step to build conducive pathways for more women professionals to reach leadership positions, and for social sector organizations to emerge as spaces where we see inclusive leadership thrive,” says Anu Prasad, Founder & CEO, India Leaders for Social Sector.

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