“We are really hungry Suruchi – can you arrange for coffee and snacks?” – A senior leader visiting Jombay a few years ago asked me at a leadership meeting as we took a break. A meeting where I happened to be the only woman in the room. Was it a coincidence that my co-founder and other leadership members (all men) weren’t asked this question?

Are you also cringing at this unexpected, yet all-too-familiar scene?

This scene, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, is about so much more than just coffee and snacks! It is emblematic of the subtle, yet deeply ingrained stereotypes that still haunt even the most modern workplaces. In an era where women are CEOs, innovators, and pioneers, why are we still shackled by these archaic expectations? 

It isn’t enough to hire women into leadership positions; we must also cultivate an environment that respects and recognizes their roles beyond traditional stereotypes. Each of us has a role to play in this – by recognizing these biases, addressing them in the moment, and setting precedents for behavior that we want to see in the future.

This is one of the reasons why I have been so insistent on building an allyship culture along with developing women leaders as we champion the 1000 Women Leaders Movement. I’m sure you all have such stories and ideas for how we can encourage more allies to step up in the workplace. Would love to hear them 🙂

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