Saturday, 10 February 2018

Indian Women in Hospitality - Vision and Mission



Our Vision 

We connect to inspire and empower!


Our Mission 

We will create a platform for the Indian Women working in the Hospitality industry across the globe to reach their fullest potential through knowledge sharing, mentoring and inspiring each other.

We will collaborate to enhance women’s roles in their own lives, families, communities and the society with self reliance, dignity and equality.

We will work for the nation building and get all Indian Women Empowered by providing support and contributing towards meaningful social causes.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Indian Women In Hospitality



I am extremely happy today; in fact my happiness knows no bounds! I feel finally have created something which can really go far as the saying goes, a small step leading to a giant leap! A  platform for the Indian women, working in the hospitality industry. It’ll be used for knowledge & experience sharing, networking, mentoring and collaborating. We have come far indeed but a lot needs to be done. Together we all can achieve more!
Look at inspirational stories among us, motivate us to give our best, share our concerns, and get mentoring but above all each woman empowering the other!  That’s the focus of this group. Would like to get every success story reach the others through blogs and you never know when that can give shape to a book. That’s the vision, to have a collection of success stories from the fraternity.

I believe we have amazing women among us who have beaten every stereotype to reach where they are in their careers and life. There are super women who have been there and done that let their stories guide the others who are just embarking on this journey. It’s easy for women to work for a couple of years in the industry and then switch track, not finding it their cup of tea. We see high turnover among women employees in hospitality. Whereas the truth is that hospitality comes naturally to women, so making a career in the industry can be utilising their strengths to the core. They also make great managers just like men. In my own experience I have felt the privilege of being a woman at my work place. There is respect, caring and the challenge of walking shoulder to shoulder with the men. Gender equity is the mantra to follow and not become a victim of gender bias!
I often hear from my ex students, colleagues as well as women I met across the country during my training programs, writing to me seeking guidance. I end up counseling them, sharing whatever best I can but I feel I am not equipped to handle all on my own. This platform will thus create a bigger bandwidth, a support group where one can seek help from the others.
A local newspaper approached me to write a column in their supplement. Now this was an offer that I couldn't resist simply for the love of sharing my thoughts with people. The thoughts of hospitality as a career, as I still feel people in India, need to know it better.

The Hospitality and Tourism industry offers careers that are dynamic, challenging, thrilling and vibrant in nature. The industry offers many opportunities to the people with the right skills set. A recent study by the World Travel & Tourism Council shows that the hospitality industry is the largest employer worldwide hiring 1 in 12 workers, and this number is set to grow with the continued expansion and growth of the sector. The industry is not really understood well by the masses. Most of them associate it with glamour but there’s a lot of hard work, discipline and the love to serve others that goes hand in hand. Hospitality is all about doing things that come from the heart, manage events and create memorable experiences for the guests. 

Being in the industry for more than two decades and counselling parents and students as well as employees over the years, I have felt that it is extremely important for the students or new employees to know how the hotels operate and what career paths will be available to them. 
Anything first is always very special. The article will remain special to me.
I thought of sharing a very important concern that comes up during my counselling sessions- gender stereotypes! Not that I am a feminist who shouts from the rooftop, but when it comes to dealing with concerned parents of youngsters who are thinking of venturing into a career in the hospitality industry I get asked often how the industry was for girls. 

I am a girl, of course a lady now! Have been in the industry, for almost 21 years. Studied in a hospitality college where the boys to girls ratio was 7:1 (most professional courses show this kind of ratio), a hosteller while there, done my intern ship of 6 months in the second year of college. I have worked in the hotel operations for the first 4 years of my career before getting into academics and after 6 years of that, I am back having one foot in the operations and the other in teaching, learning and development. I haven’t really experienced any bias anywhere, but I was a fighter just like many other women of my generation! Can say that; the industry is very safe to work in. In fact hotels take great care of their women team members. Within the hotel, which is a 24 hours operation it’s absolutely as safe as one’s own home. Women also need to work in shifts but shifts are followed in such a manner that they change at convenient hours so that one can travel back home safely. If a shift gets over after 10 pm then the ladies are given a home drop in the hotel car.
In today’s’ day and time most professions work round the clock so employees need to adapt to the  shifts concept, be it a hospital, a hyper mall or a petrol pump. These places are also safe for women to work.

The opportunities that the hotel industry offers are one of the best. Initially they may not be the best paying but in the due course they are also equally challenging and rewarding. In fact the merits are many such as working anywhere in the world, experiencing the product and holiday plans with family being some of them.
So when the industry holds so much potential why don’t the women who work there make great careers? We need more role models and more take charge women. Indian women in hospitality will bring such women together and create and share success stories.

In any work culture, relationships are necessary for employees to attain professional success. Women in particular need support from people in positions of authority who use their influence intentionally to help others progress. That support and empowerment are essential to ensuring career advancement and professional development. Women may have a lot of mentors but they also need advocates or supporters, who will give them visibility, talk about their accomplishments on the board and promote them for higher opportunities.
There are very few examples of women role models in workplaces. You can’t be what you can’t see. Research shows that almost two-thirds of women reported a lack of senior or visibly successful female role models as a major obstacle to their career advancement. Not many women hold leadership roles in spite of a substantial representation at work place. Give them the wings and see them soar high. Not just they flying but they taking the entire organisation to great heights.

We have come a long way but there are miles to go before there's fair representation and equal opportunities for women. Let's make workplaces productive and happy not just profitable businesses. Women dream to get equal opportunities and recognition for their work, which is long due. Let's all make that dream a reality. A woman has the power and ability to make castle with every brick thrown at her. Let them use this power to engage, inspire, motivate and empower each other.

 
PS: Women in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism can join the Facebook group: Indian Women in Hospitality.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/141735206638001/

Picture Courtesy: Ladies in Hospitality event (taken only for representational purpose)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Maritime Union of India - Women's Wing


We - The Power!
The Maritime Union of India- History and work undertaken
The Maritime Union of India (MUI) represents the Merchant Navy Officers who are it’s members. It is affiliated to the International Transport Workers' Federation, London, U.K. that has to it's affiliation more than 600 transport workers' trade unions in over 135 countries and presents the interests of about 5 million workers around the world. MUI is also affiliated to the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, New Delhi, that has as it's members a very large section of workers from various industries in India. MUI is thus lawfully represented on Government and Semi Government Maritime Boards and Committees. It also liaisons with various social and welfare organizations.

Women  who made it possible - the first get together.
The Union supports, participates and organizes medical awareness and welfare camps. The main objective and aim is to work for better terms and conditions of employment of the member Merchant Navy Officers. The Union enters into periodic agreement with the national and international shipping companies. By virtue of such periodic agreements it is able to establish welfare funds for the Merchant Navy officers and their families. The Union has branches/liaison offices in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Tuticorin. It is planning to open a few more liaison offices in major port cities of India. The Union staff is well experienced and is capable of handling as well as extending guidance in the matter of taxation, legal, financial and medical awareness.
The administration of the Union is being guided by the Executive Committee members who are elected periodically under the rules of the Indian Trade Union Act 1926. The Maritime Union of India has the support of eminent personalities and experts who are actively engaged in Legal, Medical, Maritime, Social, Welfare and Charitable activities. It publishes it's home journal the OCEANITE every quarter and it is distributed free of cost to the members and the Shipping fraternity. 

Together we inspire and empower!
MUI has an arrangement with United India Insurance Company Ltd to cover Merchant Navy Officers' Certificate of Competency to support legal cost at the time of court proceedings. It firmly supports Government and all Maritime Organizations for the Merchant Navy Officers employment prospects, welfare and solidarity. It is ever ready to work as a partner with the shipping fraternity for the welfare of the Merchant Navy Officers in all spheres of maritime concerns, their development and prosperity.

Now that there are women who have made great careers in the maritime industry it’s but natural that they too have a representation. I am a firm believer of gender equity; formulating a Women’s Wing is a step in this direction. I was a part of this historic moment. The MUI-WW was formally unveiled on 26th January 2018. The day will be marked in golden letters just as it became the Republic Day of India in 1950.

The Unveiling of the Women's Wing, MUI-WW

No matter where you are in life, inspire and empower the women around you! Success is never reached alone, and wisdom as well as wealth is sweeter when shared. Were the words of Ms. Saleha Shaikh who is the head of the MUI-WW, the lady instrumental in turning the dream into a reality. 

With this beautiful thought, we set off on our maiden voyage, empowered with passion and purpose. After all happy and healthy families make happy seafarers. Happy seafarers make the fraternity strong! MUI General Secretary, Mr Amar Singh Thakur graced the occasion. He spoke about the history and purpose of setting up of MUI and the idea behind starting the Women Wing now. The historic moment was inaugurated with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the invited dignitaries along with Mr. Thakur and Ms. Shaikh. 
The ladies, wives of officers as well as lady seafarers were registered as members. The MUI-Women's Wing (WW) thus had it's first get-together at Mumbai. The event commenced with an empowering session by 'Take Charge Expert’ and author Ms.Gemini Dhar. It was a great platform for synergy, experience sharing, collaborating and networking. The ladies had a great time interacting with each other over high tea. Women's Wing head, Ms Saleha Zubair Shaikh revealed the details of the exciting activities planned for the upcoming events. A room full of women can do wonders if they join their hands and decide to support each other. That itself is so very powerful! It was a pleasure to have 3rd Engineer Ms. Jhilam Chatterjee at the first meet up. We look forward to have more of our women seafarers gracing future gatherings, now that the platform is created.
In session - Ms. Gemini Dhar
Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress but working together is success. We wish to climb the ladder of success together, empowering every woman and creating space for fair representation, experience sharing, ideating; above all making the maritime fraternity robust! It is rightly said, "You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will!"

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Workplace challenges faced by women

I am invited to an event tomorrow, where working women are coming together on a platform to discuss and deliberate on the challenges they face at work place. It is a support group that wants to help women not only cope with the issues but also do something concrete so that the challenges can actually be converted into strengths and it becomes a win win for all. Women are not making progress that they have a right to and are capable of.
Frankly speaking I never thought of these issues ever in my career of over two decades and having worked with 3 different organisations. I always believed in gender equity and thought that this is how things worked, that is being fair. Infact the talk tomorrow made be think of the issues and challenges that I have faced as a woman and it was actually like opening the Pandora's box. No matter how we think 'All is Well', it actually isn't! I have tried to list a few of the issues that I have faced and also some my lady colleagues and friends have had to deal with. Some of them were so bad that a lady who was well educated, qualified and extremely capable had to quit the job. Some losing their confidence and not joining the work force ever again.

Men versus women
It is said that the men are from Mars and women come from Venus, maybe there is some truth to it. I wouldn’t even like to think of men and women as being very different. They have their own set of issues to manage. Men might be stronger physically whereas women hold more of emotional strength.  Every journey comes with it's own ups and downs as well as the meandering path that it follows. You can’t question the path unless you have walked that journey. What is easy to either sex may come across as a major challenge for the other. We should be sensitive to that.

Equal opportunities and equal pay
Women around the globe continue to face wage and opportunities gap. The issue has been raised many a times be it in sports or the film industry. These two professions have higher visibility and bigger reach. The voices are heard on a global platform. Do you think it doesn't apply to other professions? It does and I have experienced it myself. Forget the pay even opportunities are not equal; which is worrisome. Each individual has unique skill sets and similar intelligence; will deliver similar results when an opportunity is provided. Women might do better for the gratitude that they feel as things don't come easy to them.

Gender bias and stereotypes
A woman has to face gender bias and stereotypes constantly. Her ability is not at the forefront but she is seen as being less serious about her job. What creates that opinion about her, it's out of my understanding. The work place becomes non inclusive, sometimes the need for a woman to work is questioned. More so if her husband is doing well professionally. Her reason to work may or may not be her husband, it's her own education and capabilities. Every career person has aspirations. It's just that a married woman with children might work on maintaining a work life balance rather than being highly ambitious. But her aspirations cannot be undermined.

Power play and ego clashes
Women team members too work hard and achieve the desired results but they may not be given the due credit. New York University's Heilman and Michelle Haynes of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell have shown that in mixed-sex teams, credit is far more often given to the male than the female team member. Specifically, female members were rated as being less competent, less influential and less likely to have played a leadership role in work on the task. Both women and men fell into the trap of giving higher marks to the male team member. Some men can't handle women doing anything better than them at work place. If the boss happens to have this kind of a mindset, the women can never grow in an organisation like that. Forget professional growth just survival in such work places becomes extremely difficult, it is toxic!

Sexual harassment
Women face unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could make them feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can be physical, verbal or written. Women around the globe spoke about #Metoo, letting the world know how large and how serious the issue was. Women face it everyday, they are treated differently just for being who they are. Having strong biases and not giving them what they work for, is a harassment. Mental harassment is a serious issue!

Empowerment and fair representation
In any work culture, relationships are necessary for employees to attain professional success. Women in particular need support from people in positions of authority who use their influence intentionally to help others progress. That support and empowerment are essential to ensuring career advancement and professional development. Women may have a lot of mentors but they also need advocates or supporters, who will give them visibility, talk about their accomplishments on the board and promote them for higher opportunities.

Competent woman, a threat
A woman is not considered worthy of promotions after a certain level. This is a major problem that still plagues women.  Specially when they are competent, they are also often judged to be unlikable  by both men and women. In fact the more accomplished women become, the more they may suffer in the workplace. Leadership is actually supporting the people below you and getting more joy out of their advancement than your own. A competent person is an asset to an organisation, not a threat.

Lack of women role models
There are very  few  examples of women role models in workplaces. You can’t be what you can’t see. Research shows that almost two-thirds of women reported a lack of senior or visibly successful female role models as a major obstacle to their career advancement. Not many women hold leadership roles in spite of a substantial representation at work place. Give them the wings and see them soar high. Not just them flying but they take the entire organisation to great heights.

We have come a long way but there are miles to go before there's fair representation and equal opportunities for women. Let's make workplaces productive and happy not just profitable businesses. Women dream to get equal opportunities and recognition for their work, which is long due. Let's all make that dream a reality. A woman has the power and ability to make castle with every brick thrown at her.

PS Pictures are taken from Google for representational purpose, with due credits.