How do you enable women to excel?

March 8 calls for reflection. Dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women globally, it is an opportunity to asses our journey to gender equity and reflect on what more needs to be done to enable more women to not only enter the workforce, but to also succeed in their careers.  

Recognizing the diverse strengths that women bring to the workforce, corporates the world over have been putting in various policies to attract more women employees – Allcargo Group, India’s largest integrated logistics services provider is a case in point.

Corporate action for gender equity

Recognizing the need for opportunities that immensely talented women need to re-enter the workforce after taking a career break to fulfil domestic responsibilities, the Restart program was launched a few years back. The women employees who joined under this program were given support and mentorship to ease back into their roles. In another instance, Allcargo Group’s express distribution wing, Gati, has the first shift of 11 express distribution centres entirely run by women.

Similarly, other corporates are also exploring various programmes aimed at women. Further, the strict compliance to Prevention of sexual harassment (POSH) guidelines creates a safe working condition for women.

The social gap

However, in spite of these changes, there is still a significant dearth of women in the job economy. As per UN Women, 61.4% of women between the ages of 25-54 were counted in the labour force as opposed to 90.6% men. The childbearing experience further makes them pay what is considered a “motherhood penalty” with more women dropping out of the workforce.

These numbers are due to the unequal distribution of domestic and emotional responsibilities that women bear at home, and the social expectations to fulfill them. Therefore, enabling more women to enter and continue to exist and excel in the workspace would now require a systemic shift in the way society frames the family and its responsibilities.

With education becoming more accessible and with positive corporate action, more opportunities are opening up for women. Therefore, it is time society released women from the duties that bind them to home and hearth, to enable them to realize their full potential. With more and more women climbing the ranks even in traditionally male dominated sectors, we now need to reimagine the functioning and the vision of the home space. After all, if the woman can excel in the board room and behind the wheel, what is stopping the man from excelling in the kitchen and shouldering more responsibility in childcare and looking after elderly parents?

Freeing up women’s bandwidths from domestic workloads to pursue opportunities for meaningful employment is the need of the hour, if we have to be a more equitable society.

There are tons of economic benefits too of closing the gender gap – an estimated boost of USD 7 trillion to the global economy being one of them!

It is time now for society to take a cue from corporates to build a better, more equitable world.

Indrani Chatterjee is the Group Chief People Officer, Allcargo Group.