Is the Indian workplace gender neutral?

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May 14th, 2012 M Saraswathy

Gender is the main focus of the diversity efforts of companies in India, said a survey by a HR consulting firm. It would include developing women for leadership roles and attracting more diverse talent to the organisation. Though companies are now going several steps ahead to get more women on board, the question really is whether the workplace itself is gender neutral.

The CEO of a global consulting firm dealing with women related HR issues at workplaces says that the Indian workplace is far from being diverse. “The irony is, though the companies are doing a lot on paper, the benefits do not percolate to the women in the office,” says the CEO. It is no surprise that this firm has set up operations officially in India to assist the Indian companies.

The CEO reiterates that even if the benefits do reach the women, it is often not appreciated by the fellow male colleagues who term it discriminatory. Therefore, all the male members in an organisation too, are also offered consulting services by this firm.

There are certainly some professions where women are ill represented. Engineering/manufacturing and automobile sectors are among the most prominent ones in this category, say HR head-hunters. But is this true for other parts of the world? Not quite so. An auto maker’s factory in Japan is certainly bound to have women across the board than its factory in India, informs the MD of a global head-hunting firm. Even among the sunshine sectors like IT, they tend to drop out when there is an absence of an adequate growth opportunity beyond a level in a company.

Absence of enough role-models from the female gender to look up to is also another concern of the female employees. Especially in the male dominated sectors, women have expressed desire to be mentored for senior leadership positions by their own gender.

There is a still lot to be done in terms of gender diversity is the popular perception in the country. Implementation of gender friendly policies and acceptance of talent by fellow workers is key, say women professionals. Overall, though companies have started to take serious efforts, the general belief is that it would still take time to achieve the perfect 50-50 gender balance and retain it throughout.

I would appreciate personal experiences and perceptions about this issue. Please comment.

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2 Responses to “Is the Indian workplace gender neutral?”

  1. Rimi Says:

    This article well highlights the requirement for gender equality in the workforce; however, some factors also need to be highlighted-

    1. When we speak of equality in terms of number i.e. 50:50 in the workforce, do we have the same strength of educated women in India vis a vis men. Isn’t the ratio distorted there itself? Shouldn’t this ratio be first rectified to have adequate number of capable women entering the workforce.

    2. Why is it that we don’t have adequate women in engineering/ manufacturing space? A reason is definitely to do with the nature of work, which may be physically difficult for a woman to sustain and also given the biased worked atmosphere. However, aren’t Indian women taught to be dainty and delicate and brought up in that fashion and discouraged from entering any strenuous job areas?

    3. There are some handful companies who do offer some good benefits to women- but given the Indian mindset don’t most ladies just make use of the benefit without requirement for the same?

    In my opinion, while the Indian male dominant society is a curse for women’s upliftment, on the other hand of the handful of women who have been given a good opportunity to make a mark, some have also misused the system making employer’s shy of recruiting women.

  2. shikha Says:

    Great piece… some original insight… really appreciated the comparison with Japan… more such examples would help appreciate the viewpoint


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