In an exclusive interaction with SightsIn, we have with us Ranga Ranmadugala, who is significantly one of the first female Directors to be appointed to the Board of Brandix Apparels Limited, and the Chief Executive Officer of Brandix Apparel Solutions Limited - Essentials. 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.
Interview- By Romesh Srivastava
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.
A:‘Gender Equality in Organizations’ should enable both men and women the freedom to think freely, reach out for similar opportunities, have access to similar resources, enjoy similar rewards and receive similar recognition and respect.
This is the general belief which I agree to.
However, I also believe that women should strive to ‘EARN’ all of the above without relying on someone to create the above space for them too.
Therefore, my personal view is that 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 BRANDIXBrandix has over fifty thousand employees across several countries of which approximately 90% is the female workforce. One reason for this is the nature of the industry we operate in where the blue collar workforce are mostly women. We therefore practice below model.
- 1. Respect Women
At Brandix, we have always promoted an environment that is conducive to women at work. We ensure that women are not disrespected in any form at the workplace and parallel to that, a formal independent structure is in place offering counselling for women who have come across such incidents at work or at home.
- 2. Wellbeing of women
There is a carefully outlined process at Brandix, where the company tends to the needs of its female workforce throughout their career at the organization.
Since women most often have the responsibility of washing and cleaning in their households, Brandix focuses on providing clean water that is also easy to access. 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, also benefit in terms of receiving educational aids which helps empower them in terms of literacy. This is an aspiration all mothers have!
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 passionate 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 into practice with the above move and 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?
A: In my opinion, the top five big issues are-
- 1. Disrespect / disregard from other colleagues, superiors (not only males, even females).
- 2. Lack of confidence others have in women, that they can generate the same (or improved) results as men.
- 3. Conventional beliefs that prevail in those around women (within households and at work).
- 4. Non availability of the support structure both at work and at home to enable. Females need to put in the time to enable them to grow their career and have a work - life balance.
- 5. The lack of confidence in women themselves, lack of stretch 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
- a. Sponsorship by leaders
- b. Inclusion of this area in the strategy of the company
- c. Arrive at key goals, set measurements that are objective, and reward
- d. Reduction of turnover of talented females
- e. Changes in employees’ quality of work life
- f. Creation of an inclusive environment
- g. 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.
Secondly, consciously assist women at work to help build confidence in them and create a process to invite them to do so themselves. This should be led by internal mentors and leaders, and this effort by internal sponsors could be supported with 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?
A: An 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
The first step is to build the foundations required, which I referred to in terms of sponsorship earlier on, include this as part of the organizational strategies, set goals and measurements with a review mechanism, and then reward and recognize.
Fine-tune the process to bring in more diversity in many ways, and not limit it only to gender. Encourage the system 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?
A: In my opinion, it’s good to remind everyone that there is a real issue at hand which needs much more action than celebrities calling out the issue. It’s good to raise awareness on the fact that this issue prevails in every part of the world, in every society and community, irrespective of hierarchy. It is provoking a sizeable change in action in the legal systems around the world and it is good for women to realise that 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 others to become victims – behavior, action, intentions have to be portrayed so that there is a reduced chance of becoming a victim. Men in power can help create this sizeable change in action in the legal system as well as in the social system.
Men who support women genuinely should come out publicly 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!
A: When Al 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: A decade or so ago, Brandix visualized really big in terms of its footprint in India. This enabled Brandix to strategise 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 have been experienced by its employees, its customers, supply chain partners and communities. 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 firmly believe 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?
A: The only message that I would give women 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 you come across as a woman OR you can choose to behave like the victim. Choose the first and PAVE YOUR WAY – Yes, it is tough, but what isn’t tough?
- - Choose your battles in small chunks, PAVE YOUR WAY through 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 – learn from them and move on.
- - The only difference that I see is that women at work may need to make a greater effort – that does not mean it’s impossible.
Thank you Ranga!