The Story of the "She" Who Wore Bangles to Work and was a Sales Leader
Continuing with my She Sells series of stories, the next story is one from my days as a National Sales Head in a leading private sector bank. I was handling the pan India Sales for a product vertical and travelled across India to meet customers & sales teams.
During my first visit to Delhi, I met my Regional Head, a confident, ambitious young man. We headed straight to the bank branch, met the sales team and completed our business review.
The plan was to have my breakfast and head out for customer calls. As I started on my breakfast of idlis, the Regional Head summoned one of his "boys" (team member) into the meeting room for a private feedback session. The poor "boy" was clearly flustered as he was being berated for not opening even a single account in the past 4 days. The Regional Head launched into a tirade about how useless the boy was, at the end of which he asked the boy a question in Hindi "Kyun ek bhi account nahi khola? Kya chudi pahanke office mein batha tha tu?" Translation - Why did you not open even a single account? Were you wearing bangles and sitting in the office? The boy was silent and looked at me nervously. I calmly told him to wait outside the room for 5 minutes.
He left the room and I got out of my chair and moved towards the Regional Head (I don't want to mention names here, hence the term Regional Head). I stood in front of him, put out my hands and asked him what he saw.(see the pic above).
My hands were adorned with bangles. He immediately realised what he had said and apologised to me. I asked him why he was apologising to me.He said that he realised that he was wrong in calling the boy weak and ineffective like a woman wearing bangles.
I told him in dramatic Bollywood style- "Your mother who held your hand and taught you how to walk is - a woman
Your wife who holds your hand and walks with you in good times & bad is - a woman
Your Manager who holds your hand and shows you the "Sales way" is - a woman
The three most important people in your Life - Work are women.
I hope you understand now that wearing bangles is not a sign of weakness or helplessness."
He told me he would never again think that " The hand which wears bangles is powerless or worthless".
I know that one incident changed the way he viewed women and their contribution. Somehow, these biases & stereotypes persist even after years of education & progress. Can we not be both, feminine & powerful ..at the same time? It is time for us all to change the lens through which we view women - Worthless or Worthy? Weak or Strong? Powerless or Powerful?
"Can we not be both, feminine & powerful ..at the same time?" -Chitra Singh
(Context note: the words "Kya chudi pahanke office mein batha tha tu"- is the equivalent of the phrase "were you just sitting around looking pretty?)