How To Get More Women Into The Workforce

digital india

Despite all the progress that India is making in terms of its GDP, economic wellness etc., it is quite surprising that the participation of women in workforce is actually shrinking. The percentage of women either looking for a job or having a job, stands at a measly 32% vs. 80% in the case of men.  Out of 131 countries in the ILO’s Global Employment Trends report, India ranks at 11 from the bottom end of the list. This is a big concern not only due to an imbalanced workforce, but importantly because of its overall impact on labor productivity, growth and competitiveness for our country.

In the past few decades, the percentage of women managers in enterprises has increased, however they are still quite under represented.  There is also a skew in terms of the roles and industries that women typically favor – in several cases this is leaned towards HR, PR, finance and administrative roles. Women entrepreneurs are more likely in the micro and small sector.  

On the other hand, ILO findings also indicate that having more women on top has seen better financial performance of enterprises. This is because women are capable of better decision making, have far richer emotional intelligence and ability to delivery under pressure. A 2012 report by Credit Suisse, that covers findings of the number of women sitting on the boards of over 2360 companies, reveals that “companies with at least one female board member outperformed by 26% over those with no women on the board in terms of share price performance”.

As we fast forward into the future, it is the responsibility of every citizen and every company to work on improving the percentage of women in workforce. My recommendations would include:

-  Focusing on the right problem – Most programs aim at only women. This is an incorrect way to state then problem because, it makes men feel that they are not a part of the problem. Rather, the focus should be to create a culture of inclusiveness and meritocracy, where both men and women take joint responsibility to define the current problem and desired state.

- Living a balanced workforce program – A theoretical program that no one cares about is waste of productive time and puts additional pressure to an already stressed workforce. Rather, enterprises should focus on an equal opportunity program – a program where competence more than anything takes precedence to providing better workplace and growth opportunities, irrespective of gender. This is easier said than done, as it entails a huge change management process that needs to be driven from nothing less than the CEO’s office. After all, every manager and line of business head must believe in this philosophy, to be able to walk the talk and see the desired impact.

The KPI’s set for this program must be practical and not just intending to “feel good” based on metrics that no one really cares about. For instance, rather than a metric that calls for an overall percentage of male vs. female workforce, there must be a metric that measures this by departments or roles (so for example having a maximum percentage of women workforce at the bottom of the pyramid cannot be really called a balanced workforce).

Women to take ownership for fulfilling their dreams: After all, there is nothing like taking self- responsibility and ownership for the way one wants to live their dreams. Women must be bold and take increasing ownership for own decisions. Women must step out of their timid nature to live their dreams.

Like a famous quote goes, “Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.” It is time for women to take the lead in creating a bright future and a solid path for our next generations to immensely learn and benefit from.  

[Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Trivone Media Network's or that of CXOToday's.]