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Butter Churn? Pithy but true metaphor on women leaders today?

Fortune covered the 50 most powerful women in India, with Nirmala Sitharaman on the cover .

Apart from the spaces in industry, technology, government and family business , more and more sectors see the rise of women at the top. Interviewed in this article by Anshul Dhamija on conquering the last bastion, I have thrown in a tongue in cheek , and rather homely metaphor to explain the rise of women to the top , even in strongly male- oriented sectors like liquor, steel and real estate . While I affirmed that I was unsurprised by this elevation, I still tried to apply myself to what could be the triggers.

Read on to find out how Hina Nagarajan MD & CEO of Diageo , Soma Mondal Chairman of SAIL, Radha Dhir, CEO and Country Head, India, JLL sailed their way to the top ..

'The last 10 months have been a landmark for women business leaders with three of them taking up the top job in industries that have been completely dominated by men for as long as anybody can remember — steel, real estate and liquor. “Butter churn” is how Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, Managing Partner, Multiversal Advisory — an executive search firm based in Bengaluru, describes it. “The churn has been moving on and on, and when the churn moves, some good stuff floats to the top,” she says. “When I’m giving an old example of a butter churn, there is a lever that goes round and round and somebody has to move it — organisations, systems, people, law, equity principles and women themselves.That lever has been moving quietly,”she says'

All three women talk about the support and the push both within and from outside that propels them. THe fact is that the need for the churn was triggered long ago, the need to let the best rise to the top. But there are so many different factors and influencers at play, and organisations and legal/government frameworks are undoubtedly the most critical . Increasingly senior executives define success differently and on their own terms, so the fear of the glass cliff is less and the focus on the top job a bit more effortless.

'As Rajagopal says, there is something more critical to this churn: ability and lack of fear for the top job. After all, being successful is all about doing things on one’s own terms. Here’s a toast to the churn that will give India Inc. more women at the top.'


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