Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO, Catalyst (a research and advisory firm working to change workplaces through advancing women into business leadership) discusses the value the female workforce brings to the table
Do you agree that in the fast progressing economy of today, women are an important resource, and why?
Various researches have shown that companies that have grown in senior leadership have more women on their boards. Recent reports reveal that despite a GDP growth rate of approximately seven per cent, India Inc continues to underutilise its female talent pool. With an anticipated shortage of five million skilled labour jobs in the next few years, India has a pressing need for more women at the workplace. Many corporates have begun to recognise this and are undertaking initiatives and policies to make professional lives easier for women, including mentorship and sponsorship activities.
Does scaling the corporate ladder in India Inc continue to be a difficult task for women?
Based on the results of the latest gender gap rankings released by Geneva based World Economic Forum, India came in at a poor 113 among 135 countries. For a country making strides as an emerging economic power, gender inequality remains an area where it compares poorly with the rest of the world. Scaling the corporate ladder in India Inc continues to be an arduous task for women. Our data has revealed that although female workforce participation has grown significantly (and faster than men in recent years), women represent only 36 per cent of the labour force - less than half that of men (85 per cent).While workplace values are very similar for men and women, women experience the workplace differently than men do. Whether there are women seeking to secure financial resources to start and grow their business, or corporate women seeking high profile assignments that demonstrate their acumen and competencies, stereotypes often stand in the way.
How can corporates today work towards advancing women to business leadership positions?
Many companies working in India's dynamic economy struggle with the rapidly evolving talent crunch. This enables companies to become more nimble by accelerating progress towards developing and advancing their talented women. One of the ways through which organisations can advance their women workforce is by recognising them as capable leaders.
What do you foresee for the corporate woman of tomorrow?
Smart companies recognise that by implementing programmes aimed at the development and advancement of women that include targeted leadership development, accountability and focus on creating an inclusive environment through increasing utilisation of work-life programmes, all employees will benefit. Increasingly, companies are getting serious about work-life effectiveness to enhance inclusiveness and increase engagement and performance of the female workforce. I definitely see more women gravitating towards such opportunities.
- Sheetal Srivastava
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