The importance of women hiring in the organized sector has been under the spotlight increasingly in the last two decades. With reforms in education making it affordable and the awareness surrounding women’s literacy, women hiring and employment should, ideally, have seen a steady rise. However, other factors such as the debacle in economic growth following the coronavirus outbreak turn into a pronounced hindrance for gender diversity in the workplace.
Past measures compound positive momentum as women employment in India suffers a setback
In India, the gender balance in both the organized sector and unorganized sector among professionals was markedly skewed, ever since industrialization took a portion of the farm economy. Despite milestone education enactments such as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education of 2009, there is a surprising proportion of unemployment among the educated populace. Invariably, fewer women than men go on to complete their education aims to reach the status of seasoned workers.
According to the UNGC (United Nations Global Compact) study on India, it is one of the few countries in which the gender parity and representation of women has taken a reverse turn in the past two decades. In this study, which compared the labor-force participation figures of the year 2006 (34%) to that of the year 2020 (24.8%), the widened gap in recent years is apparent.
The unprecedented circumstances have, however, brought a silver lining in the form of a greater acceptance toward remote work. This can bring back women hiring as it creates a wider talent pool and opens up the conventional in-office work model into a hybrid one.
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The paradigm shift required for creating jobs for women
The biggest mindset-shift in creating women employment in India is more than ensuring the mere availability of jobs for women. It is about recognizing what makes women ready to take up jobs – be it at a startup, or a large business, or to start small businesses of their own.
For most women in rural areas, literacy isn’t so much the problem as the challenge of traveling to a faraway job location is. Traditional views about women staying close to their homes confine families, and even the society at large to jobs in Teaching, Cottage Industry, or Daycare and Creche management for female workers.
In other cases, especially for women who have dropped out of a thriving career midway, the domestic cares and motherhood have overwhelmed their productive hours. Later, they find the gaps of several years on their résumés working against them, turning them into questions that women candidates need to explain to the satisfaction of potential employers. Women hiring takes an unsatisfactory turn for both employers and candidates when women candidates are compared unfavorably against males.
The encouraging wave has come in the form of re-skilling opportunities for women who have paused their careers to fulfill family responsibilities. Today, several privately-funded ventures such as JobsForHer and Kool Kanya operating online from Bangalore and Mumbai respectively, help women find supportive, safe spaces to discuss reskilling and career-building opportunities. These are wholesome career platforms on the lines of Naukri or Indeed. In addition to maintaining a database of openings for women hiring, they conduct workshops and events. They help women professionals network with industry representatives in IT, Pharmacy, Education, Immigration Consulting, and Core Sciences.
Women hiring initiatives from before the pandemic continue to be relevant
The reasons for fewer jobs for women have often been analyzed. Maternity, senior care, and childcare needs continue to be major factors in women dropping out of the workforce even after starting promising careers. In the current post-crisis situation where most households continue to tread carefully with regard to hiring outsiders for tasks around the house, the unpaid labor is done mainly by the women in a domestic setting. According to the National Statistical Office report released on 29th September 2020, women spend nearly one-fifth of their time performing domestic cleaning, care, and maintenance activities. However, the approach from the administration and industry leaders in the face of this newest economic setback promises to be different.
The Ministry of Women and Child Develop came up with several women hiring initiatives. One such is the Mahila-E-Haat eCommerce platform of 2016. It encourages women’s participation to harness their skills towards marketable gains. Since these skills are relevant to cottage industries, they are eminently scalable. Women hiring can take the form of several skilled women coming together to sell garments, offer tailoring services, or selling handicrafts, décor, and jewelry. Mahila-E-Haat is an exclusive eCommerce platform for women to register as sole business owners and self-employed groups of women hiring other women or banding together to start a venture.
Building system to recruit more women has to be laid brick by brick
As barriers to part-time work, working from home or remote locations come down, jobs for women should receive a shot in the arm. Women hiring need no longer suffer from female employees having to clock in a certain number of hours, and being required to forego the role at home in order to be present at work on par with men. Households with more employed members realize the importance of sharing domestic duties and caregiving responsibilities. This change is slow but sure in coming.
The three labor codes passed by the Modi administration seek to bring in gender equality and empower the women workforce, specifically those who work in manufacturing, core industries, and as migrant workers. These three labor codes pay special attention to the health and welfare aspect of all workers, and even more so for women.
Niti Aayog developed a Women Entrepreneurship Program in 2018. It is a support system for women to participate in small-scale production or cottage industry activities. They help women obtain loans and create self-help groups and support forums where candidates can discuss and overcome hiccups in the process.
The NSRCEL is an arm of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) that helps young people incubate new business ideas, offering internship and ideation opportunities with industry leaders. Internship partners include Maruti Suzuki and Goldman Sachs. They nurture social entrepreneurs, students with winning start-up ideas, as well as women. One such venture focused on enhancing women hiring is the Women Startup Program (WSP) which has been in the works since 2016. Come social distancing norms, the program is conducted online for women who meet the eligibility criteria of being Indian nationals who own or co-own their business ventures. WSP makes IIMB faculty available for lectures on entrepreneurship and brainstorming, and also offers advice on legality and compliance.
These are some examples out of several that sow the seed of financial independence among women and urge them to play a meaningful role in the interplay of the economy and society in India. Adding more women into their start-ups and promoting the cause of hiring female employees is a welcomed and anticipated fall-out of this enterprise.
- Creating a new work ecosystem for women | Hindustan Times | Lalita Panicker | Sep 20, 2020
- Women do most of the heavy lifting in Indian households: NSO report | Hindustan Times | Abhishek Jha | Sep 30, 2020
- India Inc.’s Diversity Agenda | Business Today | Ajita Shashidhar | October 4, 2020 (Print Edition)
- Disappearing through the cracks | Telegraph India | Chitvan Singh Dhillon and Navdeep Singh | Sep 30, 2020
- Female labour-force participation in India declined from 34 pc in 2006 to 24.8 pc in 2020: Study, Business Standard syndicated feed | Press Trust of India | March 6, 2020
- National Statistical Office, Annual Report Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS), Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation | June 2020 | Asit Kumar Sadhu
- Women Startup Program | NSRCEL.org | NSRCEL – IIMB
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