Gender equality in positions of power in the corporate sector is a challenge at the global level. While governments around the world should participate in increasing gender diversity, the business world needs to take precedence in it, say entrepreneurs. “I think if you have political action where they ask for a certain percentage of women, then the number really goes down,” says Gillian Tans, Booking.com CEO.

She adds, “In my experience, it is very complicated because you always need to make sure you have the best people for the job.

“I think companies need to take more ownership over the gender gap themselves because if everybody does that, then overall it will improve. That takes a lot of work and we have seen that at Booking as well.

“It’s not as if you can do one thing and it will make a big improvement. It’s a number of things internally and externally that you need to focus on,” Tans said on how to bring gender parity in the corporate scene.

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Anu Acharya of MapMyGenome, while speaking to SheThePeople.TV, backed Tans’ comment as she said, “Government intervening might not necessarily be the best situation because it does not always result in the desired outcome. But certainly there has to be some sort of guidelines for different sectors of organisations.”

“As for companies, they just need to be fair. The change will come if people implement gender diversity as part of the recruitment policy and not because of a rule. It will automatically bring women in leadership roles. For instance, in our board we have 50% women executives and that trickles down over the rest of the organization also.

“I think if companies bring in women for tokenism, then that wouldn’t last long in terms of closing the gender gap,” she added, saying that it is different for different sectors. “In some cases there are 90% men and almost no women like in the manufacturing sector. I think in those cases they should make sure that at least in the hiring process they look for three times the number of women.”

Sarika Bhattacharya of BD Foundation slightly differs from Tans and Acharya as she says, “Govt or legal mandate helps to push the agenda in the right direction. The gap is so huge that unless it’s legal mandate, it will never be filled.”

“But eventually, I do believe that once the gap is narrower, the legal mandate should be removed. The legal mandate should also make it clear that companies follow merit and eligibility criteria for all positions for all roles. If all things remain equal, then women should get a chance,” feels Bhattacharya.

Acharya believes that start-ups today are progressive in terms of pushing gender diversity. However, it is the big corporations where the governmental guidelines should be implemented in a transparent manner, which is not the case.

Another entrepreneur, Founder of Careerguide, Surbhi Dewra, also agrees with Tans. “Government policies cannot push gender equality in a longer run and corporate initiatives hold a much larger responsibility. But in a way government policies also have a role as in the initial stage, any sector has grown because of governmental policies. Mindset change comes from policy and then corporate should take a lead and normalize gender parity in organizations.”

“Organisations should highlight business imperatives and case studies when they have success with diverse teams. They should drive an inclusive culture with mentoring, creating visible women leadership role models along with male champions and also sensitising their organisation on values of respect and trust”

But there is a great deal of non-compliance from the companies even after government’s Companies Act 2013 that instructs every listed company and prescribed class of companies to have a woman director. “And when there is a deadline, loads of companies find it very difficult to find women leaders to fill in positions.”

Bhattacharya brings in a viable point, “Organisations should highlight business imperatives and case studies when they have success with diverse teams. They should drive an inclusive culture with mentoring, creating visible women leadership role models along with male champions and also sensitising their organisation on values of respect and trust. They should highlight how profits, innovation and brand value for customers increase as they have more diverse and inclusive teams.”

While governments can give initial push and penalize companies for not creating a gender diverse environment, the onus lies on companies to give a boost to women to climb up the executive ladder.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

 

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