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More Inclusive Workplaces!

Achieving gender inclusivity isn’t just a moral issue — it makes economic sense. We need more participation from women

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami

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It goes without saying that technology will dominate our world in 2035. Imagine the number of drones and self-driven cars that we will be surrounded with. Certainly a smarter, more revolutionary world than the one we live in today. But what would such a world be without the emotion, the sensitivity and the colour of women standing shoulder to shoulder with men. Where we are no longer patriarchal or socially conservative, where women have to ‘adjust’ and play second fiddle to men.

Today, we are seeing a growing trend of women participating in the workplace, initiatives that encourage their economic empowerment and policies that safeguard them against violence. Then where are we failing? Most importantly, why are we lagging in creating a world where women have a ‘voice’ and the self-belief to transform not just themselves but also society?

The World Bank predicts that by the turn of the century India will surpass China as the most populous nation with a near equal number of men and women contributing to it. But what will really make the India powerhouse a reality in the years to come? Gender inclusivity could be that answer. Achieving gender inclusivity isn’t just a moral issue — it makes economic sense. To achieve this lofty growth target of 8 per cent per annum it is only imperative to have higher participation from women to reap the young demographic dividend which is expected to peak by 2035.

As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, what will help India leapfrog in the development race is the competitiveness of its human talent — the skills and productivity of men and women alike. Although we have started taking small steps, literally inching towards gender parity, structural change isn’t happening fast enough. For this a dual mindset shift needs to happen, with society accepting and encouraging women but more importantly women themselves breaking self-administered boundaries.

The root of these inequalities can be traced to early childhood and education. From birth, many girls are raised and educated differently from boys. And this continues later when women are able to work.

Women are increasingly participating in agricultural processes, education, and textile industry, to name a few. Some are even shaping laws of governance in their village. I’m proud that USL-Diageo is associated with one such stellar woman — Mina Meena, ‘Sarpanch’ of Sarver, a small village in Madhya Pradesh. Her efforts have helped transform her village into an ‘open defecation free’ area! I strongly believe, that a woman’s complex decision-making ability, innate resourcefulness and innovativeness as well as her sense of empathy and emotion at the workplace can only lead to higher productivity. This is beneficial for most companies today, creating products and services universally used by homogenous consumer groups that will continue in 2035 as well.

Likewise Corporate India must strengthen its policies to create inclusive workplaces providing equal opportunity to grow and facilitate work cultures that allow women to balance their careers along with their family and societal duties.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Abanti Sankaranarayanan

The author is chief strategy and corporate affairs officer, United Spirits

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