According to a global study, in terms of women’s advancements in the workforce, India is inconsistent due to various reasons. The study also revealed that while the participation of Indian women in the workforce is only 27 percent, they have a higher-than-average share in artificial intelligence skill set.
The global provider of executive search, leadership assessment, and development, Heidrick and Struggles discovered that the country has an inconsistent history of the advancement of women due to cultural norms that fundamentally male-dominant and strongly favor males from birth. The gender inequality in India is hard to tackle which subsequently leads to a low 27 percent participation of women in the workforce. The report also revealed that the low participation rate is due to various cultural factors, as well as challenges faced by women in the workplace, including healthcare access, gender bias, and lack of flexible working opportunities.
However, positive trends too have been noticed in this context. India has a higher-than-average share (22 percent) of women with artificial intelligence skill sets as compared to other countries.
Gauri Padmanabhan, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles said – “Thanks to the growing involvement of leaders committed to creating a more inclusive work environment, we are seeing a growing trend of more women becoming equipped with the latest technology skill sets. This indicates an increasing number of women in India are entering a space which was commonly seen as a male-dominated domain.”
The study by Heidrick and Struggles also found that the Indian government has taken some significant initiatives including furthering girls’ education, improved healthcare, and maternity benefits, which address some of the basic challenges faced by women in the workplace. The regulator for the securities market in India, Sebi has composed guidelines for the inclusion of women on the boards of listed companies by early 2020. Besides certain companies are also implementing their own programmes to deal with gender inequality. Additionally, many IT companies act as a computer programming boot camp specifically for women developers who have left the field but are keenly interested in reskilling and rejoining the technical workforce.
Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice president of TeamLease Services quoted – “Most academic excellence entrance examinations have been showcasing the growing dominance of women amongst rank holders and across all streams including science and engineering hence the findings are not surprising as well as equally welcoming. However, the question that arises in my mind is how many of these women actually find their way into the active formal workforce as well as stay there.”
Where on the one hand Diversity and Inclusion programmes in Asia are throwing more focus on women in leadership, race and ethnicity and sexual orientation, on the other hand in India the programmes are dominantly focusing on women initiatives. Race and ethnicity and LGBTQ engagement programmes in India are still in a developing stage.
Gauri Padmanabhan further added – “Going forward, Indian businesses need to widen the scope of D&I with the objective of including the LGBTQ community and differently-abled people. Tackling gender disparity in India is currently the foremost concern, given our cultural norms. But as women break barriers and step forward in every area, we will gradually be able to create pathways for the inclusion of other communities and this will indeed be welcome progress.”