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Empowering Women at Workplaces to Accelerate Company Growth With the role of women in powering growth of organizations established beyond doubt, emphasis needs to be placed on ways and means to make this happen

By Sreya Oberoi

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"No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men" – particularly in workplaces. As per a report by McKinsey, if every country makes due efforts to close the gender gap, there will be an 11per cent increase in GDP globally; 16per cent increase in India alone, by 2025. Not surprising, considering the fact that men and women together can present innovative solutions born out of diverse ideas brought forth by dissimilar experiences and viewpoints. An amalgamation of thoughts varied and deep-reaching in nature will certainly have the potential to present cutting-edge solutions to drive an organization's growth and the global economy.

In fact, there are multiple reasons why more and more women should be inducted and empowered in workplaces.

  1. To Engage the Best Talent – According to a recent report in TOI, there has been a high influx of women in universities. Participation of almost 46per cent of women in higher education indicates a vast talent pool up for grabs. This latent talent when nurtured by organizations can duly help them achieve ambitious growth targets and surge forward in a competitive market.

  2. Get Onboard a Variety of Attributes – Both men and women bring different attributes to the table: while men are aggressive on risk, women and risk-averse. Thus, a gender-balanced team can strike the right balance for the organization and help in making progressive decisions.

  3. Exert the Best Influence – Women make or influence 70per cent of buying decisions today. A look at the changing advertising scenario confirms this. Deepika Padukone replaced Saif Ali Khan as the face of Asian Paints, giving a clear indication of this trend. Targeting the right audience successfully can be the key differentiator for profit-making organizations.

  4. Understand the Feminine Point of View – Women can best understand women. Feminine intervention is indispensable for products and services customized for women. Keeping women out of the brainstorming and design phases can poorly impact sales and the overall revenue of organizations.

  5. For Inclusive Growth of Community – Women reinvest 90per cent of their income for the betterment of their household and family whereas men reinvest between 30per cent -40per cent as per EY's Groundbreaking report. Additionally, after attaining financial independence, women take up the cudgels on behalf of their gender to encourage gender parity in their communities, thus inspiring a better future for the next generation.

How to Create Inclusion?

With the role of women in powering growth of organizations established beyond doubt, emphasis needs to be placed on ways and means to make this happen.

  1. Change Mindsets and Culture of the Organization - With men having dominated the workplace for centuries, the culture in most organizations is predominantly masculine – aggressive and overly competitive. The environment is conditioned by men for men. This mindset needs to change to accommodate more gender-neutral traits like consistency, patience, empathy and inclusiveness. More awareness programs and workshops can be incorporated to bring about this change and remove unconscious bias in the workplace, thereby creating a space for women to step in.

  2. Introduce Flexible-Options – Women have multiple roles to play. They take on a lot of responsibilities. They want to utilize 24 hours of a day in the best possible way, prioritizing all their activities. Hence, flexible working hours in the workplace can help women space out their work and meet their targets by the end of the day.

  3. Explore the Hidden Potential – Women have the onus of bearing a child and raising it well. Even though men share this responsibility in the later stages, yet women always remain the primary caregivers. This is also true in the case of elderly care. Women are the support system for all elders in the extended family. This role forces most women to discontinue their careers and give it up midway. They find it almost impossible to rejoin work and combat the competition that has stepped up in the meantime; the result being this vast skilled workforce goes to waste. Organizations can rework their policies to absorb this talent and motivate them enough to get back on track. It will be a win-win situation for both. Many organizations like Avtar and Jobsforher have been very successful in channeling this talent pool.

  4. Instill Confidence – Women are unlikely to apply for internal positions if they do not fit the job description by 100per cent, whereas men are open to apply even if they are 80per cent eligible. This is an interesting finding that many organizations have come up with. To ensure that more women move up the ladder and enter leadership roles, organizations need to focus on development programs and confidence-building measures.

  5. Ensure Leadership Commitment – Leaders have a very important role to play. Since it is not possible for employees at the ground level to see the bigger picture and understand the huge positive impact of gender parity on organizational goals, leaders need to build up continuous communication to enforce this commitment. Leaders need to become and develop role models to inspire the entire company to follow in their footsteps. It is also essential for them to recognize and reward these role models as this will send the right message across the entire company. Leaders need to make proper career succession planning too to line up deserving women for leadership positions.

The lines are now drawn. What remains is for organizations to begin the journey forward. And the sooner this is done, the better it will be for the world in general and the company in particular. Women have always been the backbone of society. When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits and we build a #BalanceforBetter.

Sreya Oberoi

Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Sodexo On-site Services India

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