Mumbai: Having a gender diverse workforce could be the flavour of the next financial year. In a study by BTI Consultants, based on insights gathered through a market mapping of the Indian business landscape representing over top 100 corporates, nearly 70% of organisations said they would be hiring more women in 2018-19. On the other hand, 20% said they would hire more women professionals for CXO roles.
However, while companies are keen on improving gender diversity ratios, there are a number of challenges, which include unconscious biases, lack of work-life balance and retention. Unconscious bias towards women is said to be a primary cause for skewed gender ratios at organisations. For instance, while meaty roles go to men, women employees are delegated non-critical support roles, resulting in their disengagement at work.
The dropout rate among women employees after maternity, too, is high. The BTI study states six out of 10 women do not return back to work. Temp hiring in India is yet to catch up and not all companies provide longer duration maternity leaves and sabbaticals. Women who move out of a role, therefore, find it difficult to get their roles back after they return. The study states creating a talent pipeline that starts from the entry level with a clear growth path to the leadership level is important as this acts as a huge motivator to attract, retain and grow talent even in difficult roles.
James Agrawal, MD, BTI Consultants, said, “The importance of diversity cannot be overemphasised. It has to be top driven by the leaders as it brings about greater innovation, an increased workforce availability and a diversity of thought. Organisations, we reached out to, have roughly a 13% diversity profile in India. Attrition is at 8%, which they are trying to fill through diversity profiles to improve the gender equality.”
Across all industries, women currently make up on an average 33% of junior level staff, 24% of mid-level staff, 15% of senior-level staff and 9% of CEOs. The industries with the highest percentage of women on boards are technology, media, and telecommunications. In the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, the diversity numbers are far better than other industries. Although, even here the numbers are more in the functions of R&D, marketing, HR, finance & IT. It is yet to pick up significantly in manufacturing & sales where the percentage is as low as 2% in comparison to other functions where it is at 30-40%.
Women’s participation in the labour force sectors like agriculture is much higher compared to white-collar jobs in big towns and cities. Industry estimates reveal that the female workforce participation has risen from 27% in 2009-10 to 37% in 2004-05. The urban female workers ratio has only inched up from 13.4% in 1972-73 to 14.7% in 2011-2012. Participation of women in the workforce is good for the economy as indicated by The McKinsey Global Institute report 2016, which estimates that improved gender diversity can add $12 trillion to the world GDP by 2025.
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