07 Dec 2019 14:55 IST

MICA launches ‘MI-voice matters’ series

In the first of its conversation series, women shared experiences of school and corporate bullying

To reinforce the gender-sensitive and empowered environment, MICA, Ahmedabad, launched a conversation series titled ‘MI-Voice Matters’ (My Voice Matters).

The first session was an all women meet held on December 4, where they shared stories and experiences of workplace well-being, work-life balance and feedback, with an aim to introduce innovative practices that can help women address difficult experiences and deal with similar issues in future. This will be an ongoing series with the goal of influencing policy, structure and culture in institutions where both women and men engage honestly and interact to bring out the best in everyone, the institute said.

The session was led by MICA Dean Dr Preeti Shroff who began her talk with the quote: “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them”, and then showed a trailer of a recent Gujarati film Hellaro, which is a celluloid celebration of breaking-free.

Emphasising the fact that women now need to stand up against the ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude, Dr Shroff said, “The ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude should not be accepted.” She emphasised that women should not hesitate to question unacceptable behaviour and unfair practices all around us.

School and corporate bullying

The institute has initiated the conversation with women employees to share the constraints and fear they face from society, multiple responsibilities they deal with at home and at work, and how they wish to contribute to a workplace environment that is thoughtful and respectful to women as a professional community, Dr Shroff added.

Throughout the session, women shared past experiences of school and corporate bullying, and how to deal with men staring and being rude in public spaces, gender biases in workplaces, and intimidation by aggressive men (and the same behaviour internalised by some women).

Dr Shailendra Raj Mehta, President and Director, MICA, said: “MICA has been on the forefront in ensuring gender diversity on its campus, as we maintain 50 per cent or higher women representation in all our programmes. In terms of faculty too, we have a good gender balance. We do acknowledge that women in the workplace have to face a whole different set of concerns compared to their male colleagues. Hence, it becomes imperative for us to ensure a cohesive environment at MICA, an attempt to make a change in the mindset and to provide opportunities for women to work hand-in-hand with male counterparts.”

Budding system for new employees

All women agreed that there should be a “go to person” who can be trusted and provide support in difficult moments. Some of the suggestions that were taken into consideration included introducing a buddy system for new employees, with a special focus on women, curation of stories of real-life experiences, sensitisation sessions to correct male behaviour, and addressing any aggressive behaviour that discriminates against anyone at the workplace.

MICA has launched a global study on ‘Women’s leadership path across India, China and the US’. A round table was hosted which invited women leaders across the globe. MICA is also partnering with City Police Commissioner’s office for student led urban impact project on safe cities, and will initiate public behaviour change communication activities’ campaign and movement in the city.