Has India Inc succeeded in breaking barriers of workplace equality?

Women across corporates said gender disparity has reduced to a great extent and employers are giving all employees a level ground to compete on

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 11, 2020 9:07 AM
Women's Day

Are corporate workplaces a level ground for women employees? Has pay disparity been addressed by employers in India? This woman’s day India Inc says corporate India has finally taken the initial steps to come of age when it comes to treating men and women employees directly.

Some employees feel the criteria for success doesn’t depend on one’s sex. Rightly so.  “I don’t really see a gender difference between a business leader rising up the ladder and breaking any kind of ceilings. The fundamentals of success criteria don’t change – whether it’s hard work, stakeholder management and team play etc. So it is important to have good work ethics, sincerity and honesty and the glass ceilings will shatter automatically. In my opinion, we should all appreciate and learn from good leaders and have them as our role models instead of focusing on any particular gender rising to leadership levels in an organization,” said Bidisha Nagaraj, Vice President Marketing, Greater India at Schneider Electric India.

Talking of pay disparities that women employees in corporate India often complain Nagaraj said globally the gender wage gap is about 23 per cent. In other words, women earn 77 per cent of what men earn.

But the scenario is changing at Scheider Electric, where concerted efforts are being taken to address the pay parity issue.

“We are one of the few organizations, who have worked to ensure pay parity for its employees. As a part of our HeForShe commitments, we have developed a pay equality framework covering 89 per cent of our global workforce. Our renewed ambition is to extend it to 95 per cent of our workforce by the end of 2020. This is critical to our commitment to gender equality,” she added.

Aditi Shrivastava, CFA – Co-Founder at Pocket Aces one of the fastest-growing digital content house popular for the brands like Filter Copy agreed that there has been a rise in the number of women leaders in the corporates, but she also added that women still have a long way to go as far as breaking the glass ceiling is concerned. "While the numbers aren’t encouraging, the fact that we have made a meaningful start is worth recognition in itself. Whether its corporate India or startups, we need to introspect and introduce diversity and inclusion measures that take an empathetic approach and empower women to have a work and personal life balance further pushing them to lap up rewarding opportunities at work and grow into leadership positions.”

According to Grant Thornton's Women in Business: Beyond Policy report (2018), India ranks the fifth lowest when it comes to women in leadership roles. Even if we look at startups, the most recent statistics show that women only make up 13.76 per cent of the total number of entrepreneurs. 

Shrivastava said pay disparity still exists in corporate India but there are initiatives being taken to change it. “The gender pay gap indeed prevails and is yet wide in India and this is the case, despite continued efforts in various industries. According to recent research, the gender pay gap between male and female directors alone doubled in FY19, from FY18. So, there's still a bias that exists when we talk about women CXOs in the corporate world. But, it's worth noting that startups are bringing a lot of difference to this gender pay gap, by ensuring both men and women get paid at par. Personally, at Pocket Aces, all employees are paid in line with their years of experience, qualifications and their merit, regardless of gender,” she said

Talking about what is to be done to address pay disparity she said, "It's important to sensitise leaders on the need to bridge gender pay gap, not just at the CXO level but throughout the organisation, empower employees to command an equal pay and a good way to start this is by celebrating companies and leaders that are actually practising this.”

Things have certainly changed for women in the last 10 years said Manashi Kumar, Chief of Strategy and People Officer, BARC India. “But this conversation needs to continue since it is still far off from being equal. The issue of pay parity does not exist just in the corporate world and is more of a societal issue. Unless this change and we have more support towards this cause, we are still far away from bridging this gap,” she said.

Gender equality at work is important to improve performances and relationships at work. It also sends a positive message about the company's core values. Although some significant strides have been taken, India inc clearly has a lot of ground to cover.

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