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​IWD: #BreakTheBias with Suneeta Padda, Director at Padda Consulting

March 07, 2022

This International Women's Day, I interviewed Suneeta Padda, director at Padda Consulting and she shared her thoughts on how we can #BreakTheBias.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. 

1. Which bias would you like to break about women at work in 2022? 
That women are not equal to men based on gender alone. Women and men should be appointed based on skill and ability to fulfil a role regardless of sex, age and colour. A more diverse approach in terms of gender creates a richer and balanced industry culture. 

2. Within your market / industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equality? 
I think firms are starting to drive the move towards gender equality but there is still so much more to do, firms are driven by targets and/or benchmarks emanating from various external requirements whether driven by the regulators or ESG, but firms really need to understand the benefits of a diverse workforce, seeing things from different perspectives, attracting talent from a broader resource pool, it’s not about meeting the targets, it’s about the added benefit! 

3. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies? 
Remove biases – easier said than done. Openly embrace the need to address the gender balance and review CVs on not only experience for the job but life experiences which make the character. Look at the barriers that person has overcome and how valuable they will be to your organisation. Ensure the salary for the role is the same for the individual who takes up the job.

4. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?   
Only list skills that are 100% necessary and do not exclude candidates that have potential. The wording on the job description should be inclusive and avoid unnecessary jargon. Also, what can you as a company offer the candidate – flexibility, training & development opportunities etc.

5. Do you think that more companies adopting a hybrid working pattern has helped to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working for women and why? 
Yes, as it proves that it’s not how many hours you spend at a desk, it’s about getting the job done. That said, the global pandemic and the move towards hybrid working has seen a number of men take more responsibility in the home, I think hybrid working has helped shift pre-conceived ideas about flexible working for both men and women.

6. How can organisations support their employees in raising awareness against bias?  
The approach to addressing the bias needs to be purposeful. In the same way companies set sales targets and review budgets, the bias needs to be monitored, measurable and celebrated. Training and regular workshops on unconscious bias awareness. Some companies have conducted culture reviews to identify areas of bias where they have been able to identify areas/pockets of bias and then identifying ways in which to address this, whether this is raising awareness of a speaking up policy, gender equality training, mentorship programmes etc. 

7. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements. Who inspires you? 
There are lots of women who inspire me, so it is difficult to narrow this down: 

  • Women who have the courage to leave an arranged/abusive marriage 

  • Women who make sacrifices for others, such as children/parents 

  • Women who are single mums who work hard to raise their children alone 

  • Women who break down barriers and drive change for others who are ‘behind’ them 

  • Women who don’t let others prevent them from being successful