Promising to boost the presence of women at workplaces and treat them on par with men, six leading corporate companies signed the Global Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP) here Friday on the occasion of International Women's Day.
"The six companies, by signing the global WEP, will start a dialogue as the inclusion of women's talents and skills requires deliberate policies. By interacting with the six Indian companies supporting the WEPs, we hope to inspire other corporate and public sector companies to join our initiative," said Pooran Chandra Pandey, executive director, UN Global Compact Network, India.
The Women's Empowerment Principles is an initiative of the United Nations, listing seven principles for businesses so they could empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
The principles are informed by real-life business practices and inputs gathered from across the globe.
The six companies who Friday committed to the Global Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are: Coca-Cola India; HCL Technologies Ltd; Infosys Ltd; Paharpur Business Center and Software Technology Incubator Park; Jindal Stainless Ltd, and Wipro Ltd.
Richard Lobo, head of employee relations at Infosys, said: "At Infosys, we have tried women-friendly initiatives like giving extra maternity leave for women. We have established Women Inclusivity Network (WIN), which helps in needs for development, engagement, growth and retention of women by promoting an inclusive workplace. Such initiatives have worked well, and retention of women post-maternity has improved. Such measures are already in practice, but with the global WEPs, there will be more commitment."
The WEPs initiative will involve the government, industry forums and civil society, so that they can support corporates through research and training on gender.
"The WEP platform helps in building a greater commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment within the corporate sector in India by sharing best practices and knowledge," Muhammad Musa, CEO and country director, CARE India said.
As per a 2010 McKinsey study, only five percent of women are on company boards, or appointed as CEOs in India.
Companies have been encouraged to put in place policies to remove barriers that hinder women at work.
About 57 percent of female respondents stated, in the 2010 study, that the double burden of work and domestic responsibilities were the biggest barriers to participation in the workforce. A flexible work environment, many said, would make things easier for women to continue in the workforce as they also cater to the needs of the family.
The seven principles listed in WEP are:
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat women and men fairly at work
3. Ensure safety, health and well-being of women and men.
4. Promote education, training and professional development of women.
5. Implement enterprise development and marketing practices to empower women.
6. Promote equality through community initiatives, advocacy.
7. Measure and publicly report progress on gender equality goals.