NEWSLETTER March 2016 Twitter Facebook In wikipedia  
  Editorial - Taking the Pledge further

Dr. Saundarya Rajesh
Founder - President, AVTAR Group

  In 2014, the World Economic Forum had predicted that the global gender parity would be achieved in the year 2095. However there has apparently been a slowdown hence on what was already a slow pace of progress and in 2015, a year after the prediction, the estimate has been furthered to the year 2133, falling 38 years behind in a year! In fact, the theme for the International Women's Day was Pledge for Parity - A pledge every organization should take.

To take the pledge further into action points will be the challenge. What are the policies and best practices that will enable organizations to attain the balance and maintain it at optimum? As an answer to that question, AVTAR Group, along with Working Mother, a division of Bonnier Corporation (US) that works to advocate the cause of working women, has launched the 2016 Working Mother and AVTAR Best Companies for Women in India project. A first-of-its-kind in India, this path-breaking study looks to shine a spotlight on companies that champion the cause of women's career enablement and sustenance through innovative practices.

At a point when most of corporate India have recognised the merits of gender balance and are strategising intentionally to attract, retain, engage and develop women talent, this study is right in its timing. Furthermore, the stats pertaining to women's workforce participation in India necessiates the implementation of such a project that can not only help recognise the champions in the race but also help all participant companies to do an assessment of their initiatives to this end, identify areas of potential neglect and rechannelise/revamp their efforts deriving inspiration from some of the very successful best practices that are showcased. To bring in the numbers: From a 46% share at undergraduate studies to 27% at entry level positions in corporate India to 15% at the mid-level and 5% at senior executive positions, the percentage participation of women shows a steep decline when the hypothetical career path is traced in its entirety. Furthermore there has been an alarming drop in the female labour force participation rate in India by 8% from just over 37% in 2004-05 to 29% in 2009-10 which also means that the investment of time, capital and effort spent in educating and training these human resources - women go unutilized post their exits. And what do businesses in the country gain by retaining these women and adding more to the fold? Recent research that suggests that increasing the number of working Indian women by another 10% by 2025, can increase India's GDP by 16%. A gender diverse workforce also means greater innovation and better employer branding followed by access to wider customer markets that are precursors to prosperous futures for the businesses in the country.

Against this backdrop, the 2016 Working Mother and AVTAR Best Companies for Women in India project aims to promote the interests of women professionals in corporate India by celebrating the ways companies support their women employees and publicize the progressive policies and programs that can help other organizations succeed as well. The application to the project comprehensively uncovers a company's policies, practices and procedures for attracting, engaging, retaining and developing women.

Here are some of the benefits for the women, after this study is implemented:
  • The companies will be tracking employee usage of policies, practices and procedures in each of the categories, including Workforce profile, Women's Recruitment, Retention and Advancement, Flexible Work, Paid leave etc. This project focuses attention on achieving measurable results. An applicant company not only does a self evaluation of its policies in connection with the identified focus areas, but at the end of the exercise will also be able to create more tangible goals it must aspire to accomplish on its path to gender balance.

  • All companies that apply, including those that don't make it into the final list, will receive feedback showing how they compare to all other applicants. This benchmarking will help companies become aware of how they are positioned with regard to progressiveness of policies in each of the focus areas. Reactive measures to improve in areas of poor impact may then be initiated by the company.

  • All winning companies of the 2016 Working Mother and AVTAR Best Companies for Women in India project will be featured on portal and the print and online media. Progressive practices of these winners towards women's career enablement will be showcased, which will help women understand and evaluate these organizations.

  • This project will shine a spotlight on companies that are employers of choice for the millions of women professionals in India who are determined to succeed. It will become easy to recognize and choose organizations for employment.
The 2016 Working Mother and AVTAR Best Companies for Women in India project at its culmination will tell the country how far ahead businesses here are in achieving parity. It will tell who the true champions are and their stories towards championship! It will help set the standards for policies on nurturing women talent in corporate India and will also raise the bar for next year's aspirers! It is the vision of the 2016 Working Mother and AVTAR Best Companies for Women in India project to become a defining watershed for companies to not only assess themselves in their pursuit of a gender balanced workplace, but also aspire for the recognition that comes with being part of a highly acclaimed, very prestigious listing.


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