Corporate India has spread its arms to accommodate diversity in its workforce. Policies are continuously reviewed to strike a balance so that no one is left behind from being a part of India’s economic growth story. Organisations understand that phenomenal growth will be possible only with a unified effort from people, irrespective of gender. Corporates have taken measures, such as extended maternity leaves, day-care facility in the workplace and work-from-home opportunities, to name a few. Yet, statistics do not reveal a very rosy picture for women in corporate India.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has recoded that:
• 11 million jobs were lost in India in 2018, of which the most affected were women, who lost 8.8 million jobs while men lost 2.2 million.
• Urban men did not lose jobs. On the contrary, they gained half a million jobs during 2018. Women lost jobs in both urban regions (2.3 million) and rural regions (6.5 million).
• Only 20 per cent of all the permanent employees of the top-listed companies of India are women.
• Young women not in employment, education and training (NEET) comprise 50% of India.
“The numbers are frightfully low, to say that 6.5 million women in rural India have lost their jobs — to whom? Some of these numbers do not take into account the unorganised sector, which has a large presence in India”
We spoke to some senior HR leaders and asked them what they thought of these numbers.
“This is not what we are witnessing in corporate India. Everyone is working to improve the diversity ratio. Any progressive company working on it will have reasonably good ratios at the base level. However, at the absolute top management, C Suite-level, we are yet to see better numbers,” says senior leader of a Big 5 company.
Emmanuel David, senior HR leader and director, Tata Management Training Centre, says, “The numbers are frightfully low, to say that 6.5 million women in rural India have lost their jobs — to whom? Some of these numbers do not take into account the unorganised sector, which has a large presence in India.”
Corporate India has adopted agile policies to encourage women to maintain professional and family/personal balance, and a bunch of initiatives have been taken in this respect. The mandatory maternity leave is a great step in this direction, but then a significant fraction believes that this facility has a dissuading effect as well. The revised maternity policy (26 weeks of mandatory leave) has cost women their jobs. Several surveys have reported this too. McKinsey and Co. estimates that more than $700 billion can be added to the country’s gross domestic product by 2025, if more women were to join the workforce.
Corporate India recognises a need to encourage and facilitate working mothers, protect their employment and enhance their access to resources but are they doing enough.