Striving for gender parity in corporate India

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Striving for gender parity in corporate India

Friday, 19 January 2024 | Pooja Sharma Goyal

Striving for gender parity in corporate India

Through data-driven insights and advocacy, gender parity can be given a boost. Government support is vital for an inclusive workforce

Gender parity in corporate India faces numerous challenges that impede the progress towards a more inclusive and diverse workplace. One significant obstacle is the persistent gender bias prevalent in recruitment and promotion processes, leading to unequal opportunities for women. Stereotypes and cultural norms further contribute to the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles. Discriminatory workplace practices, such as the gender pay gap, hinder the professional growth of women, creating a barrier to achieving parity.

To address these challenges, gathering data becomes a crucial tool in understanding and dismantling gender disparities within corporate structures. By collecting comprehensive data on hiring practices, promotion rates, pay scales, and overall representation, companies can identify specific areas of concern and implement targeted strategies. This data-driven approach allows organizations to establish benchmarks, track progress over time, and hold themselves accountable for fostering an equitable work environment.  Moreover, transparently sharing this information helps raise awareness and encourages a collective effort from stakeholders, including employees, leaders, and policymakers, to actively contribute to achieving gender parity in corporate India.

The NGOs like Udaiti Foundations have taken initiatives for data-driven gender parity in the corporate world. It is accelerating women's economic empowerment in India and aims to address the challenges hindering the growth of female participation in the workforce.

India stands at an exciting point in its economic history, with sustainable growth and ambitions to become a 5 trillion-dollar economy in the near future. However, achieving this goal is closely tied to addressing the country's low female labour force participation rate, currently hovering around 27-28%. To tackle this issue credible data is required. Focused on building data-backed evidence, collaborating with state governments and businesses to understand the challenges is a must

The "Close the Gender Gap" platform analyses annual reports of 2000 NSC companies and 450 Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSRs). This platform aims to provide insights into gender parameters, such as the representation of women in key management positions and on corporate boards. While some sectors, like services and healthcare, show improvement in women's employment, others like IT, Consumer Goods, and Financial Services remain stagnant.

In larger corporations, although there is an initial attraction to women's talent, there is a significant drop in the representation of women in key management positions as the company size increases. This suggests that women face challenges and impediments to their growth within these organizations, hitting a glass ceiling that hinders their career progression.

To drive change our focus must be on creating a network of champions, including CHROs, CXOs, and board members, who can lead efforts to make workplaces more gender-diverse. The organization aims to provide data that not only highlights the importance of diversity for its own sake but also demonstrates the positive impact on business outcomes.

The government initiatives like Mission Shakti and PM Swanidhi can make a vital difference. The conversation has shifted from questioning the need for gender diversity to figuring out how to implement it effectively. Many NGOs are actively working with state governments, leveraging successful case studies, and publishing white papers to guide the public and private sectors towards gender parity.Probably within the next decade, the initiatives for gender parity in corporte India will no longer be necessary, fingers crossed.

(The writer is a gender activist; views are personal)

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