Lead Story

With the deliberate championing of women, India Inc thrives

A few companies have laudable diversity and inclusion models that pulls women back into the workforce and cheers them on

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When Vinusha Vasudevan was looking to get back to work after a five-year-break, taken to accompany her husband for an offsite job posting, she wasn’t even making it to an interview room. “Organisations are wary of people who have taken a break… I had worked as a project manager earlier, but people were telling me that I would have to consider a junior position,” she says. Things were looking hopeless till she heard about PayPal’s Recharge programme. 

Under this annual programme, 100 women from each location in Bengaluru and Chennai, who are looking to re-join work are invited to a one-day workshop with various sessions and interactions. Out of this group, 30-40 women are shortlisted for a boot camp, of which 10-15 are selected for positions at PayPal. Vasudevan aced it and now works as an engineering programme manager at PayPal’s Bengaluru facility. 

Lead Story

India’s best workplaces for women 2020

Outlook Business and Great Place to Work® bring you the third annual listing of India’s Best Workplaces For Women*. Read on to know what these admirable companies are doing right 

Published a year ago on Nov 06, 2020 9 minutes Read
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Unconscious bias in hiring has been cited as one of the biggest hurdles women have to cross. Managers who think they are giving everyone a fair chance may ignore, for example, a woman applicant for a role that involves a lot of travelling or late evenings. CISCO takes these blindspots head on with their ‘Unconscious Bias Training’. Among other things, it teaches people to recognise it and create processes to minimise it. The company also coaches people on having ‘Courageous Conversations’, which is essentially about having an open and respectful dialogue, and supports a Social Justice Community, which pushes for inclusion. Through the Women of Essence series, senior women leaders share their journey and thoughts on leadership. They talk about making strategic decisions, dealing with fear, and disrupting and succeeding. The company’s Grace Hopper Celebrations is India’s largest gathering of women technologists and its Women of Impact is a full-day devoted to the professional development of women.

Editor's Note

India Inc should take lessons from these outliers, so should Indian families

A few workplaces are moving towards equity for women and respect for their talent. Social groups should follow their lead

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For several years, women have been asking to be allowed to work from home (WFH). Most managers and human resources (HR) hummed and hawed, saying it was too much trouble and that it would bring down productivity and do something nasty to team spirit. They did allow WFH on rare occasions, but not before letting the woman know what a favour they are doing her. The pandemic has put an end to such worries. 

Everyone including reluctant managers and HR personnel, are now on the WFH bandwagon. Businesses have been forced to look at the most efficient way to get work done and, guess what, they have discovered that WFH actually works and could potentially change things for the better. Who would have thought? That’s a win for everyone, across genders for the flexibility it affords them and businesses for the wider talent pool they can fish from. That’s the bright side.

The not-so-bright side is that the pandemic lockdown has doubled the workload on women. Working mothers have always worked two shifts — after a full day at the office, they end up spending hours caring for children and doing other domestic chores. The pandemic has added to this burden by pulling the plug on their support system, with the house help not showing up or not being allowed into apartment complexes. Women even have to put aside more hours for childcare, which includes helping out with online classes. 

A McKinsey-Lean In Study, Women in the Workplace 2020, recently found that one in three mothers has considered leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers because of COVID-19. It found that, since the pandemic, mothers that are a part of dual-career couple are twice as likely as fathers to spend five more hours a day on chores. The authors of the study urged companies to take note of the situation and act to prevent women from opting out. Though the study was done for women workforce in the US, it could very well be a call to every company, wherever they are located.

Notwithstanding that, here is my take. The real change will come not just through companies promoting equity in workplaces, which consider the disadvantages women face and support them to overcome it, but through families and the larger society that extend similar empathy. The latter has to appreciate the potential and merit in creating a more equal society. Change has to begin at home.

Overall, to give credit where it is due, workplaces are evolving faster than families and social groups. There are a number of companies that are setting higher standards in promoting equity, and we are delighted to present them to you. May their tribe increase!