Gender Diversity – picture abhi baaki hai

It is that time of the year when the world is celebrating International Woman’s Day. Several organisations globally are lining up various activities to showcase and reiterate their achievements and commitment to gender diversity.

While some argue of these are either being predictable or a bit over the top, it is essential to understand that these programmes, initiatives and messages are fundamentally critical and every drop matters.

The LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021, released a few days ago by LinkedIn, holds a mirror to the current status of female employees in India and is a sharp reminder that much needs to be done still.

Here are some of the highlights from the report

  • Coronavirus impacted 9 in 10 women employees
  • 85% of women have lost out on promotion and increment because of their gender
  • Work from home during the pandemic has posed several challenges, including lack of time and family care discrimination. Seven in 10 working mothers have faced discrimination at work due to their responsibilities at home
  • 22% of those polled feel companies favour men

There is another vital point to take note of. While 66% polled agree there is better gender diversity today than their parents’ time, India still ranks at the top across Asia-Pacific in gender bias. Fact is, even though our Constitution grants men and women equal rights, a great deal of bias at the workplace exists.

A shift in attitude and behaviour takes years and decades. Like a woodpecker, one needs to keep drilling the gender equality message in a focused manner. Occasions like International Woman’s Day gives it more wings to spread the message wide and deep. A shift in attitude and behaviour takes years and decades. Over the years, those providing lip services have moved to tokenism to launch several activities and journeyed further to embed equality between female and male employees in their organisation’s DNA. Such a journey was unthinkable without getting the topic to centre stage and keep it there alive through the year.

When women across sectors in India are facing bias, communications and PR business cannot be left behind. Unfortunately, while more women join the communications and PR profession, the representation of women drops from 35% to 3% as one goes up the ranks to reach the top. Skim the surface and deep dive for a reality check. Women in our profession face all the challenges a woman professional in any other sector in India faces, plus the intense work pressure and job hazards that are characteristics of the PR profession. With the pandemic, it got worse.

The International Woman’s Day over the years has enhanced the ensemble rooting for equality between women and men. As Sheryl Sandberg said, “we cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” March 8 every year helps us increase awareness and pushes organisations to act. Over the years, some organisations are consciously transforming to be equal and sensitive. They are in different phases of transformation. They should be acknowledged and applauded. They are the torch bearers of the industry. May their tribe grow.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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