International Women’s Day is round the corner and organizations are geared to celebrate this occasion in the best possible way to make their women employees feel special. Personalized gifts, special events, parties, competitions are some of the ways in which each organization tries its bit to make this day memorable. A lot of buzz is seen as well as shown on social media and all across the globe people whose voices matter talk about this very important day.
The real question however is, what next? What are we offering to our women employees beyond Women’s Day? And what is it that women truly look for and expect from their workplaces? To find an answer to this quizzing yet very relevant and pertinent question, we spoke to many corporate leaders as well as entrepreneurs to understand what women want out of their workplaces, beyond the day that celebrates womanhood. Few needs that came to the surface from our quest was the need for safety and security, equal opportunities, growth and development, inclusiveness, support, having a voice and being heard, respect & kindness. We list here few of the top findings for you to have a better understanding on what women really want from their workplaces!
Shifting the focus from diversity to inclusion for only through inclusivity can we reap the full rewards of diversity : Rahul Sharma, CEO, Vedanta Aluminium
To elevate the conversation and focus from diversity to inclusion, around the year, for only through inclusivity we reap the full rewards of diversity. Being in the manufacturing industry, we realized early on that we needed to address the mindset and behavior. So, we at Vedanta Aluminium, set about creating an environment of inclusion and respect. Our markets, customers and businesses are diverse and complex. To match that, we recruit people with diverse points of view, experiences, skills, backgrounds and education so that our strategies are well-rounded to accelerate business growth. We celebrate that women leaders bring in different perspectives, empathy, compassion and attention to detail to problem-solving, along with technical prowess.
Secondly, the job content must be meaningful and fulfilling. We recruit high-quality talent and provide them the best possible training from global experts, in an ecosystem designed to ensure they are supported at various life stages. So we set them up to succeed. This fundamental shift in approach has increasingly levelled the playing field for us. It is evident in the fact that many of our women employees are leading meaningful and critical job responsibilities at the shop floor as well as strategic decision making. This has also deepened our talent pool with people who passionately contribute towards our vision of becoming the world’s best aluminium producer. Today, Vedanta Aluminium is one of the most preferred equal opportunity employers in the Indian manufacturing sector.
“Referring to a woman CEO as a SHE-EO and not as a leader or CEO denies agency and takes away from the authority and position they have earned.” Meenakshi, a content writer at Pride Circle
Workplaces are getting better for women, but there’s still a long way to go. India’s Companies Act mandates that boards must have at least one woman director. But as of 2021, only 17.3% of large Indian companies have women on their board, far behind the West and Asian counterparts.
While more women are entering the Indian workforce, gender parity needs to move beyond tier 1, tier 2 and middle management and show up more in top leadership positions.
Many women also feel that while it’s necessary to celebrate and raise up women leaders, it’s imperative to normalise women in leadership roles by NOT painting it with a “Girlboss” brush.
The way forward is to design policies that do more than the minimum. Organisational culture and structures need to make room for more women, yes — but they also need to find ways to assist women at critical points in their career, enabling them to move up the ladder and transition into leadership roles.
“From my perspective what women need most from their workplaces comes down to kindness and respect”, Sophie Bretag, CEO, Metta Leaders
As a female Senior HR Consultant with a passion for workplace culture, writing this article on gender equality in the workplace, I sought feedback from women I know who hold executive leadership positions and the data was interesting, but not overly surprising. All had consistently experienced through their careers varied forms of sex discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, disrespectful behaviour by men in meetings (talked over, dismissive interactions, derogatory gender based labelling), pay inequality, inflexible working arrangements around family commitments.
So, what do women expect in the workplace beyond International Women’s Day? From my perspective it comes down to kindness and respect. As the business world is continually adapting to the Covid-19 global pandemic, we need to show our staff that we accept them as whole humans. That we ensure our people are treated respectfully and decisions are not gender based. Leaders need to embrace a diverse workforce ensuring they model behaviours that support diversity and inclusion. Flexibility will also be a key component to creating cultures of kindness and equality – as standard, not just on one day of the year.
Equal opportunity to succeed and be a leader : Geeta Singh, Director and Founder, The Yellow Coin Communications
“It gives me immense pride to share that women form a major part and play a crucial role in our industry. Women typically need a positive, safe and women-friendly environment to thrive in their careers.
With the onset of the pandemic, flexibility and a hybrid work model are among the most significant expectations of any female candidate from the employers. Beyond that, she wants to be a part of an organisation where her achievements and contributions are recognised. How an organisation will support her skill-building initiatives and build on the learning curve in her career also matters.
Providing safe transportation to women in the night or late shifts, positive work culture and nurturing women talent are some of the ways organisations can help women thrive in their workplace.”
“I believe that women seek more leadership positions, career development opportunities, equal pay, and flexible work arrangements from their Workplaces”, Raj Das, Co-Founder and CEO, Hirect
International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s empowerment and gender equality. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The workplace has always been a significant part of any woman’s life, which is why it is essential to look at what women expect from the workplace beyond Women’s Day.
Women today are breaking the glass ceilings and contributing to a diverse workforce globally. However, A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute found that women make up 47.7% of the global labour force and contribute 40% to global GDP, but they are underrepresented in senior management positions. The more women take up positions of power, the better the decisions they can make.
Being heard without having the need to shout : Sargam Dhawan Bhayana, Founder & CEO, Tressmart
Today’s woman just wants a work environment where there is no harassment and misogynism and where her voice is heard without the need to shout, not just on Women’s Day, but beyond that. She would want her organizations to take a stand on gender equality and actually follow through with it after March 8th. So, whether it is flexibility in terms of where, when and how they work, or taking up a leadership role women need the right resources and support from their workplace to turn opportunities into successful endeavours.
We must understand that women are looking at parity where they can initiate, lead and influence, not because they are women, but only because they are the best person for that role. Good workplaces are not about power play between genders, but where everyone is respected, listened to and recognized for their contribution.
Diversity & Inclusion should not be an initiative for the month of March but should be continuously driven with focus and consistency : Kankana Barua, CHRO, Healthium Group
Women across organisations are capable, competent and proud stakeholders in the entire ecosystem. The inclusion of women at our workplaces drives new perspectives, innovation, adds to traits of loyalty, creativity and collaboration and makes society a close-knit structure. The EQ of women naturally allows them to bring in an environment of bonding and togetherness even at the work place.
The shrinking gap in gender ratios with the millennial growth of female representation from the entry level to the C-suite profiles needs to be encouraged. It is essential to put in place leadership programmes that create support and growth for women in the workforce including mentorship, ally and fast track programmes, creating a succession pipeline for women repairing the ”broken rung”. These will also ensure that women are better prepared to handle leadership roles along with making time for their families. Often, it is the fear and apprehension of not being able to do justice to both her roles that puts a woman on the back foot and this is what I feel the organisation needs to evangelise and support her most on.
Facilitating inclusive practices will showcase an environment of care and empathy, thus celebrating Women’s Day in the workplace every day.
Women need to be treated equally. They need to be considered for the right opportunities : Malati Vasudeva, Lead Consultant – Learning & Talent, Leadership Development, Diversity & Inclusion and Human Resource Processes.
Organizations celebrate Women’s day with much enthusiasm and aplomb; no denying that it’s a great start. The real challenge lies in following it through in letter and spirit – which requires a massive mindset shift, unlearning and parenting differently.
What good is a diversity initiative when there is discrimination against women daily? For instance, not offering an overseas assignment on a simple assumption that she will not be able to relocate or not hiring on finding out that she is recently married, assuming she will soon start a family. These are tangible examples, and one could go on, as there are countless.
The need is for Equity and Inclusion. Women are skilled and capable in their own right and need to be treated equally. They need to be considered for the right opportunities.
Organizations should work towards making it easier for women to balance their lives : Aditi Bhattacharya, Service Delivery Manager, Candere By Kalyan Jewellers
In recent times, women are more career-oriented and passionate about their work. Most women expect having meaningful work that connects to their values, purpose, and work-life balance. For Indian Women specifically, work-life balance is the most important factor. The recent pandemic has changed life for everyone and especially numerous things for women, where many are struggling with additional burdens of anxiety about their family’s health and finances; with burnout and severe stress related issues.
There are situations when critical times of a woman’s life coincides with major milestones of her career goals. In such scenarios, organizations should support women employees with flexible schedules and time offs where they can focus on their family and also on mental health which most of us tend to ignore.
This is my 7th Year in Candere By Kalyan Jewellers and honestly the support I have received since I joined is unparalleled. With powerful and talented women in many of the leading positions, makes this workplace the most safe, secure and well balanced for all employees, especially women. Candere is focused on trust, Integrity, compassion and growth.
Companies need to widen their horizon when it comes to how supportive they are of women : Taruna Arora, Country Manager, HR, Lakshya
Women’s Day cannot and should not be just about 8th of March. Companies need to widen their horizon when it comes to how supportive they are of women. Here are some ideas that employers need to focus on to support women at workplace-
- Building culture, concrete programs and policies at workplace where women feel empowered to bring their authentic selves to work
- Giving opportunities to women who are on their career break and want to restart their professional journey
- Setting goals every year to bring more women into the workplace to improve gender balance and create more opportunities for women within the organization
- Ensure a transparent career plan for all employees of the company, to have meaningful and effective professional growth irrespective of gender biases.
- Supporting volunteer projects benefiting women and girls in communities
“Patriarchal norms of ‘gender roles’ must be unlearnt in order to achieve true equality and inclusivity.” Dr. Geetanjali Chopra, Founder and President, Wishes and Blessings
“Although it is commendable to celebrate the contribution of women towards the progress of our country, it should not be limited to just a day or two. It is important for us as a progressive society to provide quality education and equal opportunities to the women of our nation. In order to foster an inclusive culture at workplaces, women must be provided with equal respect in all aspects of employment, which include equal pay for equal work done and fair opportunities to hold higher ranks and profiles. It is unfortunate that either of these is still far from being practiced across a plethora of forums and platforms. It is indeed the responsibility of every individual to realise that gender equality is not solely a ‘women’s issue’.
Safe and secure, POSH compliant workplaces : Anmol Chawla, Director, VRAKSH Management Private Limited
For women, safety is a top priority. According to www.statista.com, the female employment rate is more than 50% in 2022. However, One of every three women had experienced some form of sexual harassment at their workplaces. Therefore its important that every organization should implement POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) act at workplace to ensure the safety of their women workforce. Women also need to be provided with other necessary benefits like medical leaves and paid maternity leaves. They must also be entitled for leaves in case of miscarriage.
Women need equal pay, respect and opportunity to utilize their potential – Ria Bajaj, Founder, Gorgeous Hair
In today’s fast-moving world, where women are equally competing across all the sectors, the “Feeling of work satisfaction” is still vague especially at workplaces. It is because the need of equal pay, respect and opportunity to utilize their potential is what women desire most at the workplace.
Here are few things that women definitely want more of from their workplace beyond women’s day:
- OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Women are often underestimated to lead and expected to simply follow. Woman expect to get equal opportunity to participate and be allowed to fuel their passion.
- RECOGNITION AND REPRESENTATION: Many times women don’t get visibility despite doing incredible work due to biases. This can be discouraging even to other women. Hence, women should be recognized for their efforts without biases.
- WORK FLEXIBILITY: Post pandemic, woman expect flexibility in where, when and how they work. However, this should not become a hindrance tot heir growth.
Organizations need to provide transparency around career progression, flexible workplaces, and equal opportunity to perform. Venita Prommapor Regional Head of Communications & Corporate Development, Burda Media India
The celebration of women at the workplace cannot be limited to a single day; women need a sense of respect, inclusion and equality in the workplace. They need an opportunity to make a difference. They want a workplace that offers them a chance to do meaningful work that links to their ethics, purpose and work-life balance. Providing opportunities for women in leadership roles allows them to contribute positively to business outcomes. Employers should focus on creating an organisational culture that fosters inclusive leadership teams and meaningful careers for everyone, including women, in the workplace.
Eliminate negative stereotypes about women in the workplace : Rinkal Shukla, CEO, Kandor
Women at the workplace are faced with biases not just from their men counterparts but also from their women colleagues. We need to change that. We need to stand up with each other and for each other. Else, the old adage would hold true that it’s fun working with women but a lot changes while working under them. Moreover, men and women both come with individual leadership and working styles, we need to respect this at the workplace and give room for further growth and improvement.
Theresa J. Whitmarsh said, “If you exclude 50% of the talent pool, it’s no wonder you find yourself in a war for talent.” Let this International Women’s Day be a reminder that women bring a unique and diverse mindset to their workplaces. When given the right opportunities and environment, women can lead organizations to success and profitability.
Hence as more and more women become a part of the workforce, organizations need to focus on building themselves up to create inclusive cultures which support this workforce. Organizations definitely need to understand what women need more of and create policies, procedures and systems that make it possible for women employees to grow and thrive in their workplaces.