When The Clock Strikes Six

When The Clock Strikes Six

Sarita glanced at the clock. It showed 6.30 PM. Office hours were 9.00 AM to 6.00 PM. She looked around her. All her male colleagues were either squinting into their screens or having heated conversations on the phone.Not even one looked like they were getting ready to leave. She really did not want to be the odd one out.

But her kids needed to be taken shopping for the school excursion the next day that they were so excited about. Her boss emerged from his cabin, saw her and asked her to come in for a meeting to work on the report due next week.

Appraisals were around the corner and she was quite familiar with the recency effect. Sarita, the youngest General Manager in the company with 18 years’ experience, leading a team of 20 people across 4 regions, felt tears welling up. Dilemmas are a part of every working woman’s world. Each moment is fraught with choices to be made and the opportunity cost of each decision.

The fact that women are conditioned to be primary caregivers of the family makes such dilemmas feel like value conflicts. It is not that men do not face such dilemmas but essentially for them, they are prioritisation issues – more a managerial skill they have to master! And there is always the lady of the house who ensures things get done, somehow. Dilemmas cannot be seen in isolation.

The elements of a dilemma include a value conflict governed by contextual prejudice and driven by limiting beliefs. In this series, we look at each of the micro dilemmas that women face. These tend to add up till a woman decides she can’t take it anymore. How can women equip themselves to manage these dilemmas and give their best, on their terms.

Dilemma 1:

  • Is it okay for me to leave work on time?
  • Will I be seen as less committed or dedicated than my colleagues?
  • Will this perception that I create, affect my growth in the organisation?

Our research shows that women have had to work much harder than men to be taken seriously at the workplace. One indicator of this is the time they spend at the workplace. With on-site work slowly and steadily picking up pace, the advantage that women had when they worked from home is passe’ and they are back to coming in early, staying late, and participating in calls all around the clock.

One of the participants of our SheLeads programme has an assertive way of dealing with this. She makes it a habit to leave on time. When her male colleagues roll their eyes and talk about how she can leave early because she is a woman, she first reminds them that she is not leaving early.

Then, on the lighter side, she also asks them how long they are planning to stay at work to escape taking on chores at home. She also talks to them about how important it is to have work-life balance.

How have you perceived the women who leave on time in your workplace?

Ladies, what would make you confident enough to leave when you want to?

Note: This research was carried out for SheLeads – a special programme for women leaders, led by women coaches. Click here to know more