International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 celebrates the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” emphasising the use of innovative technology to create a more inclusive and equitable world for women. The Indian context is particularly relevant to this theme, as the country has made significant progress in recent years towards workplace gender equality, but much remains to be done to ensure women’s full participation and leadership in the digital economy. Let’s take a look at what some of the women leaders of India Inc. have to say on this subject.
Sunitha Lal, CHRO, Ather Energy
“Women are still one of the world’s greatest untapped forces. While establishing equity, we focus our efforts on creating the right opportunities for everyone. To create a diverse and scalable industry that is ready for the future, we need to make sure that our workplaces are designed to include women and other diverse groups. Technology has helped accelerate this by unlocking more diverse teams with the reach and support it provides, and also empowered women entrepreneurs. Organisations should train their teams and create space for healthy conversations to educate team members, and inspect their people practices through the DEI lens right from the hiring stages. Only when everyone feels safe and welcome can people build safe and welcoming environments for others”?
Rachna Mukherjee, Ex CHRO, SCHNEIDER Electric – India & South Asia
“Diversity and Inclusion at the workplace are critical, however embracing equity is the route to explore this deeper. Digital innovations can really catapult the efforts forward by helping minimise unconscious bias and providing a level playing field”.
Runa Maitra, Founder & Director, People Talent International
“Women in the workplace had always been equally talented, but the opportunities entrusted unfortunately were fewer – due to biases, and trust issues which might be deep-rooted to the value the existing senior people carried to the opposite gender. The foundation in India, to appreciate professional talented women colleagues is weak and needs good parenting. The technological transformations historically were again led by men. The tech workers especially coders were engineers and we had witnessed women choosing this profession in bulk appear much later which also might have led to inequality. Now, it’s changing which is encouraging and women are also coaching the upcoming generation to appreciate talent without being worried about the gender issue. We all are aware that there is a big knock of the “third gender” workforce, waiting to demand equal platforms hence the diversity of the workforce is the need of the hour.”
Sarmistha Roy Chowdhury, Ex CHRO & Doctoral Research Scholar, TISS
“In terms of digital proficiency and technological access, women lag behind men. Digital education and revolutionary, inclusive technology are required for sustainability. Despite several programmes and efforts to promote women in the technology industry, gender stereotypes, unequal growth opportunities, differing compensation for the same talents, and preconceived notions continue to be the greatest obstacles for many women leaders in India. Even C-level executives must constantly establish their worth in the business jungle. Organizations should encourage greater significance and make deliberate efforts to provide secure, bias-free environments for women leaders to flourish. I want to add one more point -Women who are still unemployed or whose talents are underutilized despite being employed have an effect on the GDP.”
Chandra Bhattacharjee, CHRO, Grasim Industries
“To be technically competent women should seize opportunities and not be afraid to fail. They need to set learning goals for themselves and actively network with peers and mentors in the technology domain of their interest. It is about embracing change and ambiguity and knowing that change is the only constant.”
Priya Khatri, Head HR, Jetking Infotrain Ltd.
“Woman in digital is a passion in the digital world and harnessing the passion within oneself should be the motive for each and every woman. No doubt women have always been digitally savvy and different in their thoughts and actions since ancient times, but making them DIGITALL is the dream of the tech world in the real sense. Tech companies play a major role in creating a global digital world for women by creating equality and diversifying employee strength in every way.”
Kanika Mahajan, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
“In general, technological changes in labour markets can affect demographic groups differently. Research in developed countries shows that demand for female workers due to increased computer use can account for over half of the growth in demand for female workers during 1980-2000, as physical work is reduced. Our research shows that mechanisation in Indian agriculture has reduced women’s employment in rural India since women are regarded as less complementary with tractors and also because demand for weeding fell. Hence, there are opportunities as well as gaps that are bound to arise due to technological advancement based on how ‘suitable’ the women are considered with the emerging technology. Here, a deliberate inclusion of diversity as a goal within organizations can help reduce stereotypes and enable women’s employment to expand.”
In conclusion, International Women’s Day 2023 presents an opportunity to celebrate the progress made towards workplace gender equality in the Indian context while highlighting the need for further action. DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality is an essential theme, emphasising the role of technology in creating a more inclusive and equitable world for women.
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