In 2020, a ‘Labour Market Update’ by online professional network LinkedIn analysed actions of more than 69 million members in India and concluded that female workforce participation showed an increase from 30 per cent in April to 37 per cent in July 2020. These numbers may not be ideal but they indicate that India is leaning towards gender parity in work spaces, says Alok Bansal, Visionet Systems India’s Managing Director and CEO of BFSI Business.
His optimism is vindicated by a May 2021 DivHERsity Benchmarking Report launched by JobsForHer, an online career platform for women. Analysing the impact of COVID-19 through data collected from over 300 companies, the report states that the hiring of women in mid-management to senior-level rose from 18 percent in 2019 to 43 percent in 2020.
Rough estimates peg the female workforce in India’s IT-BPM industry at about 34% and according to Mr. Alok, there is space for improvement not just in making this percentage healthier but also addressing the issue of gender diversity beyond tokenism.
Says Mr. Alok, “During the pandemic especially, women are increasingly gravitating towards tech jobs for the flexibility, income and health care support they offer. An increasing number of women with disruptive digital skills are making inroads in the current job market despite the fact that they face unique challenges and are often held back from advancing in their careers for multiple reasons.”
In her 2019 book, ’Women in Science and Technology: Confronting Inequalities’, author Namrata Gupta explained how women in the Indian IT industry have to routinely deal with wage gap, stagnation and other inequalities. Mr. Alok adds, “Studies indicate that women drop out of their careers after the first five years of employment. This could be because of family responsibilities and the traditional caregiving roles they are expected to play at the expense of their careers. There is an absence of support systems for working women that also causes them to leave the job market but they could also be leaving for other reasons like gender pay gap and stagnation at entry and middle-career levels.”
Visionet, he says, is doing its bit by creating a level-playing field, acknowledging gender inequality, stagnation and wage gaps where they exist and creating an atmosphere that makes women feel valued, safe and encouraged to live up to their full potential. Other thoughtful incentives like fair HR policies, maternity and period leave etc also make women employees feel at ease.
Says Mr. Alok, “As an equal opportunity company, Visionet believes that gender diversity leads to different perspectives, fresh ideas and innovation. We also believe that women in leadership positions inspire other women to aspire to more success in their chosen fields. So acquiring and retaining such talent is very important for us as is providing women with a support system they can rely on. During the pandemic, we are offering mental health check ins, free vaccination, paid sick leave, medical benefits to all our employees and are also particularly sensitive to the needs of mothers who are raising children and may also be primary caregivers of sick family members.”
There is hope, says Mr. Alok because the Indian IT sector now has more women in comparison to many other countries and the numbers are only going to grow in the years to come. He concludes,“The pandemic has seen a proliferation of avenues where women can contribute remotely and the hybrid workplace model is here to stay. In Visionet alone, the participation of women has risen to over 70% in the business processing management space. We also encourage women to join our skilling program, ‘Unnati for India’ and will continue to create opportunities for them because we need balanced work places where equality is a norm and not the exception.”