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Paradigm Shift: How the Gig Economy is Able to Empower Mompreneurs The gig economy has enabled women to take up jobs during maternity leave and often continue to work from home to take care of their family needs

By Sanjay Lakhotia

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Diversity is at the core of organizational culture today and one of the major factors fueling productivity and profitability – this includes gender diversity as well. However, according to a global survey by Grant Thornton, India is ranked the third lowest in the proportion of business leadership roles held by women for the third year consecutively. Since 1990, female labor force participation has fallen from 37% to 28% in the country. This gives rise to several questions.

Why is there a decreasing female labor participation rate in India?
  • Do paid maternity leaves and the increased cost for companies discourage them from hiring women?

  • How to ensure the participation of female employees in the Indian corporate scenario?

Apart from economic, social, and political barriers which prevent women from entering the workforce, maternity is a major factor. Although the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act was well intended, the cost implications of this policy discourages firms from hiring women. Not only would they be paying for 26 weeks of no work but would also need to compensate the worker brought in temporarily. These overheads discourage employers, especially in SMEs, from hiring women.

Rise of the Mompreneur

However, with the rise in the gig economy, there has been a paradigm shift in this trend. It has enabled women to take up jobs during their maternity leave and often continue to work from home to take care of their family needs. According to a report by YourStory, about 45% women are open to finding "work-from-home" opportunities and 15% women started freelancing or working from home on part-time work during their maternity leaves. Mompreneurship has emerged as a buzzword fueled by the gig economy for young mothers.

Related: Five Tips on How to Achieve Success as a Mompreneur

These Mompreneurs push for greater financial freedom by taking on side-gigs like selling lifestyle products or registering as a freelancer. The emergence of career platforms for independent consultants is also proving useful in helping women find work-from-home opportunities. A case in point is the fact that about 55% assignments were bagged by women and only 45% went to men. This has further enabled large companies to have remote and freelance workers which helps them deal with their headcount problem and reduce overheads.

Gigs offering pay parity

Further, about 86% of female gig workers in India believe that this kind of an arrangement gives them an opportunity to earn equal to their male counterparts.Female gig workers are part of a growing and important segment of the larger workforce with the potential to push the boundaries of participation. With flexibility and pay parity satiated, gig work helps women gain job satisfaction by enabling them to upskill during work breaks and use their experience during assignments. The way gig economy has bridged the pay gap and boosted pay parity between men and women is a concept which still evades traditional employment models.

Related: #4 Money Management Tips Every Mompreneur Should Consider to Maintain a Perfect Work-Life Balance

Due to our societal norms, there are differences between the work life of a man and a woman. Women along with their full-time jobs are also the caregivers at home. Moreover, in the case of life events like marriage or pregnancy, things change for them majorly. In a country like India, where more than 90% of women are also the caregivers at their home, the gig economy has provided a promising dimension of work, offering the essential but elusive time, flexibility, and balance between personal and professional life. It is helping them spur their careers on without compromising on family time, academics, or even recreation.

Helping achieve a balance

The same report by HyperWallet also indicates that about 90% of female gig workers would recommend this opportunity to their female friends and another 68% of female gig workers said they have friends in the gig space in India. This positive perception about the gig economy has boosted the careers of many working mothers. In India where women are the primary caregivers, the chance to take care of one's professional life without compromising on the family is very significant.

Related: 10 of the Highest-Paying Gig Economy Jobs of 2019

Gig work has the potential to offer women financial freedom, based on the opportunity for equal pay and improved work/life balance when compared to a traditional career path. However, few women have embraced gig work as their primary source of income, with many only working a few hours a week and supplementing their income with another part-time or full-time job, or spouse's income.

In Conclusion

Women are a growing and important segment of the workforce and companies in the gig economy still need to address key drawbacks – including inconsistent income and lack of employee benefits. But through the gig economy, the female workforce has been able to bridge the gender gap and reduce the economic damage from the lack of female labor participation in India.

Sanjay Lakhotia

Co-Founder, Noble house Consulting Pte

Sanjay Lakhotia is the co-founder of Noble House Consulting Pte, an HR talent marketplace that helps independent consultants find short- and long-term assignments as per their skill set. A seasoned HR professional with a background in technology development, he has more than 20 years of experience in working across all areas of HR including HR Transformation, Leadership development, HR technology deployment, Performance culture, Rewards etc. 

His last assignment with Hewitt was as the Head of Operations for Asia Pac. Sanjay also worked in various senior management positions across India and Asia-Pac during his stint with Hewitt.

Sanjay has been instrumental in conceptualizing various technology products for the use of clients including PMS, Compensation, 360, employee engagement, and Fitastik - a Healthcare app. 

Sanjay is the founder of Aamoksh One Eighty, a venture involved in setting up centers for senior citizens living in India in collaboration with One Eighty of USA. He is also a founding team member at Talentonic HR Solutions, an HR consulting and technology organization. Sanjay's rich portfolio of work has also led him to become an advisor to various corporates on business and HR related issues. Sanjay is a Post Graduate in Human Resources from XLRI Jamshedpur. 

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