A word of caution, this topic is incredibly vast and deep. My thoughts in this column may not do complete justice. I hope it succeeds in keeping the discussion alive and moves people towards action.
In the recent past, amidst all the gloom and doom of virus, pandemic, and vaccines, I have been observing a positive and good development taking shape. It is about women in the workplace. The narratives range from global to Indian perspectives and from inequality to higher representation.
Sample this. A leading newspaper published a report on 17% of board positions in India held by women which is far higher than other countries in Asia. Another article talked about, despite more women joining B-Schools, India has the worst gender gap. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published a blog on how women are vastly underrepresented in news headlines. All these add to the raging discussion on how women are more affected than men due to the social and economic effects created by the pandemic. When economies worldwide are at crossroads, it does have its consequences on gender equality at the workplace too. The challenges brought about by the pandemic is threatening to push women out of the workforce says a McKinsey report.
Our Fraternity’s new support systems
In light of the above, it is heartening to note two recent developments of PR & Communications. Two days ago, Global Women in PR (GWPR) launched its India chapter. A couple of weeks ago, Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI) launched its PR and Digital Marketing Council. In a community that has a fair representation of women at the entry-level, dropouts at the higher level of leadership ladder and high burnout, these developments are necessary and welcome—the more, the merrier. A community that has a good number of women should have women for women support system that is scalable and institutionalised. Their contribution to pressing issues like ensuring gender equality in leadership, gender pay gap, mental health, burnout, and other issues will be immense. Let us give them a thumbs up.
Much ado about nothing?
No. it is certainly not the case. Consider the below two real-life incidents. A friend who was in between jobs decided against taking up a new job when he got to know his parent has fallen sick and may require a prolonged period of care and attention. Indeed, it is the right thing to do. In another instance, my friend who has her parents living with her doesn’t want to discuss her caregiving responsibilities with her boss because she will be perceived as “too distracted” and “doesn’t work hard”. If a male colleague tends to his children or family first, he gets a pat on the back for being balanced and caring. If a woman prioritises her home responsibilities, she is at risk of getting judged as ‘not serious about a career.’ This list of differing perceptions can go on. Yes, we are living in the 21st century, yet fighting this stigma.
As we all know, the reasons for these issues persisting runs too deep. It is cultural, social, and economic. It is not going to fade away quickly. We need to make it the fulcrum of building an equitable and gender diverse community. We are getting there. We will get there.
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