Co-Creating Gender Equality
MUMBAI – On 17th April 2019, Asia Society India Centre and 13D Global Strategy & Research hosted Ameera Shah, Managing Director, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, Anurag Bansal, Managing Director, Southeast Asia 13D Global Strategy & Research, Ravinder Kaur, Professor of Sociology, IIT Delhi, Animesh Kumar, Chief People Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd. and Monica Ralli, Chief Marketing Officer, 13D Global Strategy & Research for a discussion on promoting gender equality in Indian workplaces, involving more women in leadership roles and understanding implementation challenges faced by employers and employees in the Indian workforce.
Ms. Ralli, after introducing the theme and the context of the research done by 13D, spoke about the renewed need to create a dialogue on gender equality in the workplace in the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and the increase in wealth predictions and investment patterns for women. She then invited opinions on the subject from the panel to begin the discussion.
Prof. Kaur began by pointing to the dismal record of women leading key academic institutions as directors or Vice Chancellors, despite the higher number of female than male teaching professionals and academicians. Concerns about the safety of girl students, financial costs, among other issues keep young girls from attending some of the best institutions for engineering in India, the IITs, despite clearing the extremely competitive entrance exam. She also highlighted the bias in the very architecture of workplaces that are not accommodative of women in pregnant, lactating conditions. The societal conditioning that favours the image of the male as the breadwinner disregards the contribution of women. The rampant practice of sex-selective abortions also shows the low worth given to women.
Mr. Bansal quoted from key findings of the vast research conducted by 13D that different capabilities of men and women endow them with different potentials, and higher female participation leads to better decisions and profit margins. The distinction in the nature of investments is also remarkable, with more of women’s excess earnings going into better education and nutrition for the future generation.
Ms. Shah spoke about the distinct patterns of establishing an identity for men and women, and how despite enormous professional successes, a woman’s real success is still pinned on her ability to manage a family simultaneously. She also noted that it was important to address gender norms at home before addressing gender equality in the workplace. The motivation among women to be professional success is much less as compared to a personal, family success. The encouragement to take risks and face challenges is much higher to sons than daughters. Uncertainty in any walk of life is met with an anxious, emotional response due to over-protective parenting practices, which is not a suitable approach as an entrepreneur.
Mr. Kumar underlined the importance of diverse workplaces that reflect the markets that the organizations operate in, in bringing out better performances. The obstacle to achieving this is the conscious and unconscious leadership biases affecting every organization. To mitigate these biases there needs to be a recognition of the equal capabilities of men and women as professionals and the wider scope of roles performed by women as compared to men.
Following an engaging session of audience Q&As, Ms. Ralli invited suggestions from the leaders in the room who had attempted to reset the balance more favourably for women in their professional practices.
Watch the complete programme here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SknQKb65T5w&feature=youtu.be
As reported by Saanaee Naik, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre.
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