Is The Workplace Ready For The F-Word?

Is the workplace ready for the F-word? Beyond the Pink?

How are workplaces dealing with feminism. Is it changing? What’s the approach companies and organisations in India taking? Has the revolution that we call feminism swept the workplace and made the much needed changes? These were some of the pertinent questions taken up at the Women Writer’s Fest.

Most panelists agreed there was need to go beyond the pink and therefore beyond lip service. Material change was due in most Indian organisations.

Renowned Feminist and Publisher Urvashi Butalia talked about the need to be sensitive in conversations and policies around women and men. She encouraged the need to include men in the dialogue.

“No, the problem of gender is not really solved but this has generated a lot of awareness. In corporate there is a lot of talk about various initiatives and policies taken,” said Anuranjita Kumar, Chief HR Officer of Citi South Asia. “The question remains are we really asking what do women want?” she asked in the context that companies need to think from a woman’s perspective while planning policies for them.

Most panelists agreed there was need to go beyond the pink and therefore beyond lip service. Material change was due in most Indian organisations.

Different women who come from different background have different aspirations and the changes they would like to have. That access is absent? Could quotas be the answer?

Author of Unlady Like and a stand up comedian Radhika Vaz, supported reservation if it helped fix the numbers. “I am a big fan of quotas because there is a huge difference between where men stand and where women stand. To bring equality there there has to be some extreme shift taken and that’s exactly what quota do.”
In context to her own business, she said, “What I face is that whoever is making a booking I have seen that 99% of the decisions are made by men and it’s a vicious cycle.”

Ritu Kapur of The Quint, a digital media platform, talked about how generational diversity in organisations was forcing the change. She said in the newsroom she was surrounded by feisty and driven women working with her. “When you are building anything, you want to be the best in terms of talent and creativity. And in that sense I don’t look at gender while hiring. And at last count, 70% of Quint’s workforce were women but without keeping gender in mind.”

Anuranjita also resonated with the hiring parity as she said, “At the level of hiring it is an equal hiring and we are almost 50-50 workforce at junior and mid level. I find younger women more hungry and driven in their careers but it’s when they have to start a family, that passion goes down.”

As the discussion circled back where it started from – the word Feminism, Radhika Vaz passionately said, “To me the opposite of feminist is asshole, the choice is yours,” throwing the audience into a roar of applause. Shreyasi Singh, the moderator asked if ‘humanists’ were now going beyond the ‘feminists’ to which Urvashi Butalia said it was best to focus on the solution, the end goal. “Forget the labels” as labels restrict some and empower some so to each their own.

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