BANGALORE: Recently, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart announced that it is going to put its might behind a new program, to initiate women’s economic empowerment around the world. We have had a slew of initiatives taken by many MNCs even in India to woo their women employees, whether it is in the form of flexibility in work timings, work from home option, extended maternity leave and many more women-centric HR initiatives.
There have always been efforts by companies to recruit and retain members from the ‘fairer sex’ for reasons ranging from higher commitment levels to being more stable. Though organisations are making attempts to get women employees to re-enter workforce after their maternity leave or sabbatical post fulfilling personal responsibilities, the rate of women’s workforce participation remains an abyssmal 28 per cent. Is enough being done by the employers and are the companies more understanding on the dual role played by women both in their workplaces and homes?
Suneeta, who works as a Executive Assistant for the head of Australia Operations with the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) said, “Lot of changes have happened over the years and there have been very good opportunities for women in our organisation.” When asked if the glass ceiling still exists for women and if its more difficult for a woman to make a mark than a man, she said, “It’s a tricky question. Personally, I feel its your individual abilities and the work atmosphere which matters more than your gender. At the end of the day, it boils down to how capable you are. My company provides many flexible options for women.”
There is lot of dilemma faced by many women employees in building sustainable careers in corporate India.
Sabita Rai, who is a Senior Executive with a leading organisation in Bangalore said, “I don’t think that the glass ceiling exists anymore. Organisations are more sensitive these days to our needs. Women being multi- taskers, they manage to balance work and home together though it is extremely challenging.”
Shweta Sastri, Executive Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore and an alumnus of London School of Economics (LSE) said, “This is a multiple cultural-personality dilemma: meeting varied perceived needs of the family and employer.
Employers expect their employees to be opinionated, fair, and decisive; while in many Indian households; the same ‘best employee of the month’ being a mother/sister/wife, is expected to ‘fulfil’ her role even if it means giving into family pressures.”
Many felt that though organisations are doing their bit, there is a general lack of respect for women in our society which is another factor that currently hinders empowerment of women. “It is only when a woman feels safe and respected that the Indian woman will emerge to the forefront and seek empowerment,” Shweta added.