As we celebrate women, we look forward to transforming workplaces, the value chain and society at large by applying a gender lens to everything, in pursuit of the belief that no woman should be left behind
Equality between women and men in the world of work has seen some encouraging improvements in the last decade or so, but progress on closing gender gaps has yet to be made. Persistent disparities remain between women and men, including labour market participation, pay for work of equal value, representation of women in high-paying occupations and managerial positions, and the distribution of unpaid care work.
Violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, also remains a reality for many women in the world of work. Achieving economic empowerment and gender equality for women will require proactive and transformative policies from a variety of global stakeholders, including governments, companies, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and civil society.
However, private-sector performance on gender equality varies widely depending on country, sector and company size, as well as corporate leadership and culture, with small and medium-sized enterprises experiencing the greatest challenges.
When you empower women in the workplace, you allow them to have more control over their careers. By investing in training, mentoring, equality programs, education grants, and promotion into senior-level positions, you ensure their career growth, which is essential to creating long-term employees.
Thankfully, many companies already have policies in place to encourage and empower women to find workplace success.
As we celebrate Women’s Day today, we have asked women across all walks of life how they need to be empowered at work and what changes in corporate or social structure would they envisage that needs to be incorporated for this.
Urvija Bhatkuly, Group Director, Business Goa
Being empowered is a lifelong mission
Business Goa has always been fascinated by the wonderful work done by enterprising ladies of this wonderful state. Empowerment shouldn’t be left to society, empowerment should be seized. Women today do not require societal patronage to make a difference to their lives.
Today the world is open to all of us to work, to create, to achieve our dreams and lead by example. Women’s Day is just a date on the calendar. Being empowered is a lifelong mission. On the occasion of Women’s Day, wishing all the super ladies who are featured in this section and those from across the State; more power to you.
Swati Salgaocar, Director, VIMSON Group
Organisations need to promote diversity and equal opportunities
In the corporate world, women need to be empowered by providing those crucial resources and support in the areas of training, career counseling as well as mentorship.
This enables them to better understand their options, set goal or targets and achieve them successfully. Organisations need to implement fair, inclusive policies promoting diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace.
Archana Bhobe, Owner, Snip Salons & Spas
Safety and Security at the workplace is a must
It starts with equality of opportunity which also includes equal pay (based on merit and performance). Women need to be given bigger roles across all levels of the organisation and encouraged / trained to take positions which are traditionally male oriented. Additionally, their safety and security against harassment should be ensured by the management especially since workplaces in India tend to have a skewed hiring ratio in favour of males.
Also, the empowerment should be that of men; men to accept women as their equal; professionally. I feel that corporates should ensure the following: Compliance to global best practices against sexual harassment at the workplace. A dedicated diversity officer in the HR department to ensure the right balance of female representation in the workforce is essential; Whistleblower protection (that is actual empowerment); and Gender sensitisation in the workplace through appropriate certifications.
Jyoti Sardesai, Director, Food and Drugs Administration
Women need to be supported by society, corporate and government structures
Women’s empowerment is a topic in which we have made many strides over the last decade or so. Across my career itself, I have seen much advancement in the role of women in corporate as well as government. But for all the progress made, a lot remains to be done. Women, even today, are subject to an unspoken and unfair binary: successful career or fulfilling home life. Women who choose to climb the corporate ladder or serve public interest are chided for not fulfilling their ‘natural’ role as nurturing caretakers of their spouse and children. Whereas women who choose to raise a family are mocked for not living up to their intellectual or earning potential, and being ‘dependent on a man.’ These things are never brought up to our faces, but we hear whispers behind our backs. For someone (such as myself) to have both, it takes not only the selfless support of my family but a truly herculean amount of dedication and effort; something that may not be on the cards for all women, due to their own individual circumstances.
So how can women be empowered at work? The same way they can be empowered everywhere. By making both choices valid, and supporting those who choose to attempt both. Society needs to stop holding women to this unfair duality. This includes giving women impartial information on what the trade-offs are of either choice, and more importantly, accepting without question women who choose to do one or the other. In order to gain the full benefit that women bring to the workplace, corporate structures need to recognise that women must be empowered to more easily pursue a career as well as a family. This not only includes parental leave and other concessions for the creation of a family, but in valuing the unique perspectives of someone who has a life and calling outside of work. Women will only be truly empowered at work when they are empowered in all things: When their decisions are accepted and supported by not only society but by corporate/government structures as well.
Heta Pandit, Author & Co-founder of Goa Heritage Action Group
Recreational and green spaces are equally important for women
I think citizens voices need to be heard on all counts. Today we are facing issues where decisions are being taken without any regard whatsoever for allowing free and fair participation.
When the roads are dug up, a 73 year old balusters destroyed on India’s longest promenade does it not affect every one of us? Does this not affect a working woman’s day? Her commuting efficiency, the recreational space available to her and then in turn the quality time she spends with her friends and family? Why do we only talk about work space? Recreational space and green space is equally if not more important.
Manasi Kamat Warty, Founder, Wisely HR Co.
Equal responsibility should be delegated to both men and women
I believe it makes a great impact when women are involved in the policy-making and are holding highest leadership positions; be it in corporate hierarchy, as business owners or as political leaders.
In order to facilitate this we need to introduce leadership grooming in organizations at an early stage itself. Also as a society we must delegate equal responsibility to men and women towards financial achievements and household management instead of fixating on gender dominant roles. This will encourage women to take on the executive positions without being daunted about the time and energy demanding nature of such roles.
Shruti Jaiswal Juwarkar, Proprietress, Roooh Serve
Women need to be involved in the decision making process
A woman’s sense of empowerment is often derived through validation she has been taught to seek since childhood first from her male counterpart, be it from her father, brother, husband or father-in-law.
We need to involve women in the decision-making process be it at home or at work. Seeking and considering women’s input while making decisions can bring in a different perspective to solve the matter at work/home while it empowers them. The following applies for empowerment as well:
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
Danira Vaz, Director, Models Group
Women should feel safe to express themselves
“Woman Empowerment is about creating a platform where women feel liberated, are treated justly, and are given equal opportunities for growth.
Gender equality in the workplace plays a major role in Woman Empowerment. Every corporate or institution should create an environment where women feel safe to express themselves. Equal opportunity should be given to all employees to voice out their opinions, challenge their personal growth and feel respected, irrespective of gender, age, and other factors.
Society should embrace the fact that in order to progress and grow all genders need to work together. Invest in a girl child’s education so that she can be independent enough to support herself and her family. Create an environment where women feel safe, respected, and enjoy the freedom of expression.”
Priyanka Row – Mind Coach & Licensed NLP Practitioner
Nothing, in my opinion, can block the rise of more senior women leaders.
“I am a huge advocate of merit. Merit must be rewarded and not gender; in life, in corporate boardrooms or in the society corridors. Most of our private corporate sectors and workplaces have fortunately started to adopt this approach.
The demands and lifestyle upgrades of modern day society have introduced double income families and gradual acceptance of women as bread earners too.
If income generation is now a shared responsibility between men and women, it is imperative that family and home maintenance also become a shared responsibility. This shift in mindset amongst parents and the men folk is crucial in society to take women professionals seriously and support their multi -feathered hats. This will help set the women up for success in their careers.
However while women are dominating and excelling at entry level and mid management jobs, the higher echelons and senior management see very few women leaders. My belief is not that they are not welcome. I believe they drop off owing to lack of support systems at home or in the community in helping them manage their householder duties and the stretched responsibilities of a senior management role. If social structures can build such support systems, I don’t think anything can stop the burgeoning of more senior women leaders.”
Caroline Collasso – Advocate
Women should not shy away from taking leadership roles.
“Women need to understand their legal rights at the workplace that prevents them from being treated unfairly and assert those rights granted to them. Women should not shy away from taking leadership roles and truly believe that non discrimination, gender equality and a workplace free from sexual harassment is a right that is guaranteed under law.
While there are laws and policies that India has ratified, various international instruments committing to secure equal right to women, the gender disparity gap is wide at all levels. Genuine women’s empowerment and participation in the labour force can boost growth and reduce inequality. Placing women on decision- making bodies /boards in the corporate world is a good business practice and would make a difference that will help leverage the diversity of views and opinions for company growth. Since women play such an important role in child rearing and future of the family, the corporate world should realise that women need an extra fillip, greater opportunities at workplace taking into consideration this important role they perform and difficulty in juggling these roles of family and work – thus ensuring child care leave, family support policies, maternity benefits, crèches at workplace, easy access to health care, access to further studies/programmes to enhance her career, strict anti sexual-harassment policy at workplace will go a long way to help women reach her full potential and contribute in a real and meaningful way, so that gender equality at all levels becomes a reality.”
Pallavi Lawande – Architect and owner of PNL DESIGNS
Women can devote their full attention to their work duties once the personal front is managed.
“The word empowerment means the process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want or to control what happens to you. With power always comes great responsibility.
Throughout the years, women have taken on the responsibility of their homes. Be it the working of their homes, upbringing of children, taking care of elders, working in their professional field etc. But over a period of time they have been forced to take a back seat at workplace due to gender bias.
All this should change in today’s world where things are moving at a fast pace. It is difficult for men to catch up sometimes, so imagine how it would be for women who are already behind. Steps should be taken in every sector, personal and professional to empower women.
At the workplace women should be given equal opportunities so that they can compete fairly with men. A safe and friendly environment should be provided so that they can give their 100%. Women should be entrusted with higher responsibilities which can challenge them. They should be given leadership posts where they can display their talents. There should be no bias and equal pay structure should be affixed for men as well as women.
The corporate structure should accommodate maternity leaves; allow work from home in special cases, flexible working hours, and medical insurance. This will allow them to fulfill their personal duties as a mother, wife, and daughter as well as take time out for their well being. When the personal front is handled, women can wholeheartedly focus on their professional commitments.
This way, we will definitely see more output from our women workforce. Shifting importance on quality of work rather than physical appearance is very important.
Reconstruction of work policies, and encouraging women to take up and manage projects on their own is definitely the next step towards woman empowerment. In conclusion by redefining gender roles, equal and fair opportunities should be given to men and women so that we have a successful and balanced society.”
Joyce Lobo, General Manager (Corporate), GKB Hi-Tech Lenses Pvt. Ltd.
Supporting women in the workplace through pivotal moments is a component of empowering them.
“To empower women at work places is to help them in developing their belief and their ability to get the desired changes by way of in-house training, recognizing their accomplishments so that they get encouraged and takes ownership and responsibility of the work they do to contribute to a meaningful decision towards a common goal.
Supporting women run businesses; like endorsing her, invest in her or mentor her. By sharing ones knowledge and experience with younger women, we can help them reach their full potential. Work place and work culture influences the way people perform their task, which directly impacts on the higher productivity levels. A transparent communication, setting proper boundaries, allowing opportunities to learn and demonstrate skills, mutual respect, trust and pleasant environment enables people to feel confident and empowered in the work they do.
Being a young working mother or care giver comes with challenges. A part of empowering women at workplace is to support them during the crucial times. In fact the biggest support should come from their families.”
Shruti Tiwari- Wedding Planner –VLW Global
Women at work should be empowered through a variety of strategies and changes in corporate and social structures.
“As someone who has been in the industry as an employee and now an employer, I believe that women should be empowered at work through various strategies and changes in corporate and social structures. Personally, some of the suggestions below are what I believe strongly in-
Equal pay: Women should be paid the same as their male counterparts for the same job and level of experience. This requires companies to conduct pay audits and address any discrepancies found.
Flexibility: Companies should offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, job sharing, and flexible schedules. This would help women balance work and family responsibilities.
Leadership development: Companies should actively seek to develop and promote female leaders by providing leadership training, coaching, and sponsorship.
Family-friendly policies: Workplaces should offer family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, on-site child care, etc
Zero-tolerance policies: Companies should have zero-tolerance policies for harassment and discrimination and take swift action to address any instances that arise.
Representation: Women should be represented at all levels of the organization, including senior management and board positions.
These changes would require a shift in corporate and social structures to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Companies should prioritize gender equality and diversity and take active steps to promote women’s empowerment.”
Sheetal Pai Kane -Chairperson CII-IWN Goa & Director, Acoustic Components Pvt Ltd Goa
“Women are the real architects of society.”
“Women are everywhere you look, from a CEO who runs illustrious companies to a housewife who looks after the household and raises her children. Our country was built by strong women and will continue to do so. Women are breaking down barriers, stereotypes and making extraordinary strides, despite gender inequalities across industries. Be it the industrial or the corporate structure, we should work on creating a company that reflects the ethos of the company and empowers women to feel safe and speak up.
Encourage them to be themselves rather than imitate or be a puppet to someone else’s calls. Recognize their potential, support and encourage them towards the right areas and decision making by mentoring and guiding them. Giving younger women in the workforce a chance to take part in brainstorming and to take important decisions, goes a long way in empowering women at the workplace. A common occurrence seen these days in women from the corporate world is, ‘Work Burnout.’ Small steps like work life balance should be harped on by companies where women don’t feel the work stress and can compartmentalise their priorities.
The most important part is every working woman has a world other than her job or the work she does, she may be a mother, a care giver. If one can understand her circumstances and give her the required support. To provide a work place flexibility and flexible working hours, along with encouraging shared parental duties. Overall have a collaborative environment that values her presence and decisions.
On the social front, education is the most important tool for empowerment. Skill development for women along with employment which should be major focus areas. An equal participation of both men and women in the community and society should be necessary. Eliminating discrimination and violence against women and adopting measures to improve their rights, social security and help them get their source of income which in turn makes them more self sufficient.
By following this we will not only create a better, but also an economically stronger society.”
Dr. Dipti Srivastava- MS Ophthalmology, GMC with Karthika Vijayamani
It is essential for women to befriend other women at work.
“Looking at beyond the obvious which is pay gap between genders for equal qualifications/experience, hiring bias in the employment sector and the need to have more women at workplaces, there are other areas where significant benefit will accrue from a shift in prevailing attitudes and practices.
Caring, sharing, nurturing skills are less valued currently in the professional sphere. A lot of women are employed in such roles for e.g. primary school teachers, nursing, child care centres including Anganwadis. These in the private sector are low paying jobs despite the fact that the care providers are directly engaged in taking care of the future and current generation. It would be empowering to recognize the importance of these critical skills and value them more with better pay scales.
Offering paternity leave can help offset hiring bias and incentivise the man to participate in domestic care-giving responsibilities thus freeing up the woman to pursue her work and career with fewer interruptions.
In the corporate sector, it would be very impactful to have more women in leadership roles involving decision making, handling budget allocation and critical business processes. Mentor-mentee relationships should be actively fostered as there are very few women role models for new entrants. Not just structured relationships such as this, it is important for women to befriend other women at workplaces. Traditionally patriarchy has pitted women against women. Thus it would have to be an active process for women to view other women at work as allies, not rivals. Female friendships strengthen professional growth.
It is difficult for women to naturally display confrontational behaviour often necessary for leadership roles. Promoting a collaborative workspace as opposed to a fiercely competitive one would encourage women to participate more actively as it decreases the need to be adversarial.
It has been seen that a lot of networking happens very easily for men over informal meets for coffee, drinks, etc. It is important for men to be mindful that business decisions that occur during such men-only smoke/drink breaks are exclusionary practices. Socio-culturally, such opportunities are few for women typically due to domestic commitments. There exists a need for active participation by women along with men even in settings of informal networking.
Discussions about strengthening presence of women at workplaces need to see men participating in these as much as women. It is a win-win situation for both genders and has benefits in both professional and domestic situations.
In conclusion, while Women’s Day could offer the starting point for a discussion, the commitment to an attitude shift that encourages gender parity is one that should be sustained through the year and is the need of the hour for both men and women in professional realms.”