Indian Firms Need To Catch Up On Gender Parity

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 17, 2017

women IT

At a time, when talks on women empowerment at the workplace has become a norm, Indian enterprises seems to have ignored the basics when it comes to providing meaningful career opportunities to its women employees. Most women professionals don’t consider their workplaces women friendly, reveals a new study. The report reveals that though most organizations claim to offer equal opportunities to men and women, their own women employees feel very differently, as nearly 90% women professionals say there isn’t much equality in their organization when it comes to career progression. They stated that promotions, opportunities for leadership roles, salary increases and incentive programs are biased towards men.

The report was the result of a TJinsite research that TimesJobs undertook in March to gauge the pulse of working women in India with candid inputs from over 2,500 working women. While rating the work aspects which directly or indirectly help in creating a women-friendly workplace, 70% women disagreed that their own workplace was female friendly.

Lack of leadership opportunities, career growth

As far as leadership opportunities are concerned, almost 95% respondents rated female representation in their organization’s top leadership as poor. Sadly, none of the surveyed women professionals rated women representation in top leadership at their organization as good.

In terms of career growth, over 75% women rated the management opportunities provided by their organization for female professionals as poor. In addition, 40% women professionals rated satisfaction with their salaries as poor, 50% as just average and only 10% rated it as good.

As Srividya Kannan , Founder, Director – Avaali Solutions Pvt Ltd. 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, according to ILO findings that also indicate 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”.

Read more: Seven Most Powerful Women In Tech

Given that role transition is now a routine part of working life, continued learning should be viewed as a necessity, but this clearly is not the case for many women professionals who feel they miss out on growth opportunities because of lack of proper training and upskilling initiatives. Almost 75% of women state that learning opportunities at their company is poor, as per the TimesJob report.

In addition, 80% women professionals rated sponsorship or mentorship initiatives at their organization as poor. This is surprising, considering corporate mentoring is on the rise with most Fortune 500 companies offering professional mentoring programs to their employees.

No work life balance

Workplace flexibility remains one of the key reasons for people to join or leave a company. However, 70% women employees rate flexibility in their organization as poor. Almost 80% of these women professionals are even ready to forego promotions in favor of better work life balance. In addition, 60% women professionals rated the ability to telecommute for work as poor, and only 5% voted it as good in their organizations.

Sadly, the study finds that 35% women professionals rated maternity provisions at their workplace as poor, 55% voted them as average and only 10% agreed that these provisions were good. While the recent amendments to the maternity bill have given hope to women professionals, the ground reality is that these changes have not been adopted by many companies yet.

Sreekala Kurup, Chief Operating Officer, CrackVerbal believes even at this day, every woman has to fight her battles, which of course are different from that of the battles fought by men. “While a man can be assertive on his first day at work, a woman is expected to be collaborative and patient,” she said adding that this subconscious assumption that women are mostly nurturing and co-operating, while men are ambitious and authoritative has had a damaging effect on gender equality in the workplace the world over.

Read more: Vision 2030: In Tech Women Take The Lead

While 45.9% of graduates in India are women, Grant Thornton’s ‘International Business Report’ in March 2014 states that the proportion of women in senior positions in the Indian workforce has reduced from 19% in 2013 to 14% in 2014. This is despite the fact that India has some of the best examples of women in leadership positions in varied industries.

“It is disturbing that even after decades of aggressive efforts to create a level field for women; inequity appears entrenched in Indian organizations. We hope this study is a clarion call for companies to acknowledge this gaping need - look at the problem areas highlighted and find practical solutions to help talented women professionals advance in their careers,” says Nilanjan Roy, Head of Strategy, Times Business Solutions.

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.