Adobe has consistently been listed on various Best-Places-to-Work lists. And that is not without reason. For not only does Adobe value its employees, the company also contributes to various social causes, and consciously works towards creating a better world. At present, Adobe is celebrating a Breaking Bias week, which is aimed at effectively integrating individuals from various backgrounds into the company culture. And it was as part of this initiative that Adobe India had invited The Kiran Bedi for a session.
The session was supposed to start at 3:30 pm today at Adobe's Noida, Sector-132 campus. Noida Sector 25A and Bengaluru conference were going to connect through video conference. The conference hall started filling up half-an-hour before the session. Upon her arrival, sharp at 3:30, Dr Bedi was greeted with a thunderous applause. Dressed in a blue kurta and salwar with her trademark half jacket, she painted a striking picture. Her confidence and authority made her appear several heads taller than everyone around her. She stood out in this techy crowd just like she has stood out throughout her life.
She owned the session from the word "go". With some excellent questions posed by Adobe India's Executive Director Shanmugh Natarajan, the session was effortlessly transformative. Dr Bedi's connect with the audience was instant as she suggested that she and Nataraj stay standing so that the audience at the back too can see them well. Just listening to Dr Bedi talk about her journey, her teenage years as a Tennis Player, her choosing IPS after clearing the Civil Services examinations, her stint at Tihar Jail as the Inspector General, her on-going assignment as the Lt. General of Pondicherry, and her infectious positivity was enough to energize the audience. All her responses evoked loud applause and her ready wit and humor kept us engaged.
Though the entire session was thought-inducing and energizing, for me there were two main takeaways.
Takeaway 1: Before you venture out to break biases in others, address the biases that you hold against yourself. Dr Bedi doesn't give excuses. She has forged her way forward through toughest of situations because she never thought herself incapable of anything and has never demanded a special consideration because of her gender. I believe at every point in your life, in whatever project you take up, it is only about giving it your best. And after that, irrespective of the results, there can be no regrets, only a sense of accomplishment. Don't let anything become an excuse. If I talk about women, the biggest hurdle in our path to success is our belief that our success or failure in any field is related to our gender. It can be related to our own bias against our gender or others' bias against our gender, but gender itself doesn't hold you back from doing what you want to achieve.
Takeaway 2: A successful ecosystem is more likely to produce successful individuals. If we contribute towards creating such an ecosystem, the ecosystem in turn supports us in our journey. Each individual needs people who can fill in for him or her at times. We can be those people for our family, friends, colleagues, employer, employees etc, and in most cases, the gesture will be reciprocated. Even if it is not, the key is to stay positive and keep feeding this positivity to the ecosystem around you.
Throughout the session, though there were some specific questions about righting a skewed gender ratio and integrating people from diverse background, the most profound impact of the session was because Adobe had invited a trail blazer from a field, who also happened to be of the gender that is underrepresented in most professional areas, to interact with their employees. It is this subtle juxtaposition that creates the real difference as opposed to ostentatious talks about the problem situation, because it helps in opening minds and accepting things that were hitherto unforeseen. You cannot force bias out of people, but you can definitely expose them to new experiences that give them a fresh perspective.
The session was an hour long, but I wish it was longer. I could have listened to Dr Bedi for hours and hours. Thank you Adobe for giving us this opportunity. This is what makes #AdobeLife so special.