Authored by Lata Menon |BusinessWorld Online |7th April, 2019
The world around us has changed in incredible ways in the last 100 years but the most significant fact today is that “The pace of change has changed”! The relaxed pace of change, the linear path it took that tip-toes over time, has changed to an exponential curve and inconceivable trajectory….Blink and you miss, sinking swiftly behind in time! The only constant is change and embracing it is the only way forward and this applies to all walks of life, Corporates being no exception. Adopt, adapt or perish that’s the course the world is heading in!
To keep up with the pace of change, Corporates around us are changing too. The need to stay relevant is mandating components constituting organizations to embrace changes quickly. One of most significant component, apart from technological advancements, is the man (women too) behind the machine! Diversity & Inclusivity at workplace is one such component that has gone through a paradigm shift, some necessitated by law and some by need. At entry level, workplaces are split almost evenly, but the percentage of women in management plunges as more men take leadership roles.
While law has been catching up, other factors like inclusion of millennials in the workforce, an ever connected world, employee turnover, widespread immigration, emerging markets and blurring geographies have all played and will continue to play a major role in creating workplace resilience. The complex corporate structure is still evolving.
Women too has come a long way, from no voice, no voting rights to a seat at the table, a journey down the winding road liberally sprinkled with quick wins and disturbing defeats. Though the destination may still be distant, the journey makes it worthwhile!
Some of the significant changes in Corporates for women, amongst many other are -
A safe and secure workplace
To a large extent, mandated by law and company’s need to be above board on women issues has in a way ensured a safe work environment. As a culture, leaders own complete accountability to set the tone for harassment free, safe and secure workplace with an inclusive culture. To achieve any desirable levels for equal representation this is mandatory. While law and company policies have attempted to address the issues of harassment free workplace, micro-aggression, intentional or otherwise, is an equally disturbing trend to watch out for.
The workplace alignment
Alignment of people, policies, process and systems are essential for any change to be successful. It has to be by design and should be measureable. Managing key elements of employee lifecycle from hiring, equitable pay, high visibility assignments, progression path, career interventions etc. are some of the initiatives in the right direction. But the challenge still remains at the top of the pyramid with negligible percentage of women in leadership roles while at entry level most organizations seem to have an even split.
Nurturing women employees
Women, in most cultures world over, are still the primary caregivers. From nursing an ailing parent to bringing up a child, continues to be the primary responsibility of women and more often than not it leads to compulsive career-breaks. For varied reasons, women may need reduced work hours, flexible schedules, etc. accommodative organizations have carefully curated policies to manage the same. Quite a few organizations have focused initiatives to bring women back into the mainstream after career breaks.
Enhancing participation by design
The design basis needs to be right for Corporate Inclusion Index to register any dramatic change. Women make phenomenal Managers; their nurturing side makes them great motivators and adept at people management. Studies show higher engagement, better tenure and lesser turnover amongst women employees which assists organizational stability. They add tangible value to the bottom-line. A 2014 Gallup study reported 14 - 19% higher average quarterly net profit than less-diverse business unit in retail and hospitality industry segments. If all of the above stands true, appropriate investments in enhancing women power makes business sense.
Are women doing enough? From altering their own belief system, where a perception of gender as an obstacle exists, to working on enhancing relevant competencies, seeking out high value assignments, stronger networking skills, visible ambitions and determination to excel, seeking mentors and coaches and other investments for career advancements, women has to consciously work on making the right choices.
More women are seen at the helm of affairs today than ever before but it is still far from an ideal representation or equitable distribution. The playing field still seems uneven and women may continue to be under-represented if they don’t make the right investments in their career.
Corporates are changing and so are women and the efforts are impressive! To make it sustainable, commitment to reduce the gap between good intent and concrete action has to be absolute.
The author is Country Head - HR, India and MEA , Equifax
Click here - http://www.businessworld.in/article/How-Things-Have-Been-Changed-In-Corporate-With-Women-/07-04-2019-168848/