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BW Businessworld

Technology Is Empowering Diversity

Diversity - The missing block of the puzzle, that will unlock future growth opportunities

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I am often asked to express my views on empowering women, my belief remains:  how can we ‘empower’ the already mighty, compassionate and intelligent of the human species? From being mentors in schools and education institutions, to becoming rescue mission pilots, chief economist, defence minister and representatives of the country’s technology council, women are surpassing and surprising the world and the stereotypes surrounding them. They are simply unstoppable!

Diversity - The missing block of the puzzle, that will unlock future growth opportunities

The future needs imagination and each individual has a role to play in it. The volatility in global economy and ongoing technological disruption makes it crucial for businesses to deliver innovative solutions that successfully cater to demands of the future. Therefore, it is more important than ever for businesses to embrace workforce diversity and reap its complimentary benefits in terms of increased creativity, innovation and profitability.

What is working in the favour?
With diversity and representation of women becoming a key mandate for organisations, and with global forums debating the future of infinite digital possibilities, the world is finally taking cognizance of the value women bring to the table. 

There are innumerable data findings pointing to the correlation between workforce diversity and robust business performance, across sectors and geographies. 

The roadblocks

This debate around diversity often makes me ponder on the real issues faced by the industry workforce worldwide. Working women continue to carry a disproportionate burden on their shoulders - as being the primary family caregivers and managing their careers. That apart, there are several other factors such as - marriage, childbirth, family responsibilities, and many unconscious biases of our society that keeps them away from achieving their professional goals.

Understanding the great digital divide
The world is becoming digitized at an unprecedented rate and almost all sectors of the economy including - finance, manufacturing, entertainment and government are reinventing themselves with new-age technologies and innovations. However, the disruption is not evenly distributed and not everyone is onboard.

A report reflects that of the 7.1 billion people in the world, men make up eighteen per cent and women sixteen per cent of people who are online, reflecting 200 million fewer women online overall*. An unfortunate news for the economy, this fact also reflects upon the society’s inability to involve inputs from this sizeable fragment of the total workforce, to draw maximum mileage out of this massive digital transformational journey.

Technology is bridging the gap 

I truly believe that technology has the potential to lead us towards a shared future in a fragmented world. Technology has a significant role in empowering women both at the workplace and at home — and businesses stand to benefit, if these efforts are pursued strategically.

In fact, a lot of this is already happening. 

In this digital age, technology is already proving to be a great leveller, bringing all stakeholders together – under the common thread of innovations and experiments, leading to a superior connected experience. Though not overwhelming, the representation of women is gradually picking-up steam across leading organisations in senior leadership and management positions. 

With technologies like - Virtual Conferencing, Remote Access Networks, VoIP, VPN etc., businesses are encouraging and enabling women to make new strides in their professional journeys.

Leading the change
Balancing work and family is tough, especially for women, but organisations can lead the change by providing them with the necessary ammunition to manage their professional roles with great ease. This includes incorporating flexible working schedules, and project based roles/assignments. Strengthening transparency in reporting on pay equity and focusing on diversity hiring across functions can also help in providing equitable employment and growth opportunities.

Focused networking groups within organisations can also help women move up the career ladder by implementing strategies and programs that address the specific challenges faced by them.

Educated, skilled and able women and men are a country’s true strength. Therefore, the thrust on reskilling, especially in futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Sciences, Robotics, Machine Learning (ML) and Cyber security must ensue. At the grass-root level, government schools and colleges can play a key role in grooming girls to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses with adequate support from the academia.

If there is anything that needs a tweak – it is our mindset
Rather than thinking about their capabilities, the focus needs to shift towards making the workplaces and opportunities capable/suitable enough for women to achieve their career goals.

It is important to change the narrative from women empowerment to ‘nurturing the growth opportunities’ for women. 

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.

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C.P Gurnani

MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra

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