Women at work in India – Rethink opportunity, tinker measuring scale
The Economist cover, focussed on women a work, talks of the the absence of Indian women in its economy. This should make us all get up and think. When half of a 1.3 billion people are ignored, just how do you expect a nation to prospect and grow? There is an absence of initiative at multiple levels – from the top of national leadership to employers across India who ought to have a better working environment and culture. National efforts need to be made to make women more included in the economy – whether they are working in the freelance ecosystem or the organised ecosystem. We have poor numbers to show right now, but this can change. Just because the rest of the world is growing at 3 odd percent growth, India is happy to be above 6 percent. But imagine if we unleash the women’s economy what will come off our growth story?
Women at work in India – Rethink the opportunity, tinker your measuring scale – Manjula of Her Second Innings
Meet Pallavi (name changed). She is about 25 years old and already a widow. She is a graduate. But she is unable to work because her in laws are not convinced that she should be financially independent. All these years they were worried about her safety to leave the house. Then we started persuading them for having Pallavi work from home. Today she is working for two organisation on part time basis. For the family she is bringing financial freedom, respect and a sense of pride for herself by raise her only son with what she earns. Her dream is to send her boy to the finest college to Bangalore, the nearest big city for her. Recently NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, “Women entrepreneurs must for India to grow at 9-10%.”
I am going to focus on how growth and empathy together will change the game for women and for the country
GROWTH AND EMPATHY
Enough has been said about how the gross domestic growth of a country will surge when women join the economic force. If you need a reminder, here’s a connect. But I am going to focus on how growth and empathy together will change the game for women and for the country. When women lead decisions, they nurture whatever is around them – from business, people to the environment. In India we now need to find ways by which women are joining the workforce without always ‘being in a job.’ We talk a lot about the gig economy and the Prime Minister is a champion of the digital opportunity but just how many women are included in this? Just how many are in the know of, and can capture those opportunities?
FIX THE PROBLEM
Here are the simple steps to include women:
-Organisations need to shift the mind of a job from face time in office to delivery of the work assignment
-Corporations should look at higher flexibility, higher productivity models
-Look at the example of how e-commerce made a difference in Indian worklife. It has unleash job roles like selling, blogging, photography, fashion writing, and more and helps to bring more women to get back to work stream. Create the sustainable work place to bring the women at work through digital technologies.
-Reduce commuting time. Meeting, communication and collaboration everything is possible with the help of digital technology then why are we still averse of asking women to work from home?
Think of the women’s economy beyond an ‘HR’ initiative. How can the focus on women at work become a corner office agenda item?
MOVING THE NEEDLE
When everyone equally contributes at home and workplace, we can expect improved growth. As a percentage economists predict 27% growth in economy when women gets equal opportunity to work. Inspite of knowing the facts and action items , if we are not moving forward it clearly shows gender discrimination and we need to be coach, train and mentor our male counterpart to realise the truth.
We need the governments to push for work from home opportunities. Women will take these up and fill many skill gaps we are facing as a fast growing economy.
Let this Economist cover be a wake up call. It’s time to rethink. India promises to lose its edge in growth without the contribution of its women. For that growth will not only be sub-par but also incomplete.
Manjula Dharmalingam is the founder of Her Second Innings