The recent World Economic Forum 2020 report suggests that though the gender gap is reducing, with current trends, it will take 100 years to close it across the 106 countries covered in the report.
Randstad US released a report, ‘Women in the Workplace: 2019’ report that revealed a range of issues that women face in the work place, right from lack of leadership opportunities to lagging education and mentorship programs, disparities in pay and failure to address gender discrimination and harassment.
The World Economic Forum study shows that one of the key reasons for this disparity is entrenched traditions where not only men view women as not quite on par, but women too undervalue themselves. To overcome this disparity, organisations can proactively take initiatives such as:
- Recruitment – Recruitment policies should be defined based on gender equality and promotions should be based on staff demographics
- Drive Skills Development Equally – Apart from technical skills, leadership and communication skills training for women and gender sensitivity training for men may also be needed for a corporate culture sans gender bias
- Create Role Models – Women in leadership positions can inspire younger women as well as mentor them, thus providing an impetus to aspirations of younger women in the organisation
- Eliminate Gender-Based Roles – Take the best person for the job and not based on stereotyped view of who fits the role better – man or woman
- Enable Work-Life Balance – Technology today enables remote working. By providing flexibility leveraging communication technology, organisations can provide better options to women.
The Cenza Approach
At Cenza, a managed legal service provider, gender equality is part of the organisational DNA, as is evidenced from the fact that over 50 per cent of the employees are women, and 25 per cent of the managers are women, including the top management.
Jayashree Nair, AVP – Legal Business Services, at Cenza, points out, “The percentage of women managers speaks for itself. The challenge is when a woman in a senior position has to take maternity leave of three to six months. When she returns, she may be passed up for promotion due to skillsets requirement. But at Cenza, the promotions are not withheld and women are helped to equip themselves and move up the ladder.”
Indumathi S, who leads Human Resources , adds, “We identify the gaps and conduct training, not only for women, but for men as well.” In addition, webinars are conducted on topics such as work-life balance and creating a bias-free workplace environment
The presence of women, especially in managerial positions, also enhances the feeling of safety and security and retention of women employees. “We also take security seriously, and women are not encouraged to work late at night,” explains Juliet Grace, Project Manager. Work is planned in advance and women informed earlier if there are deadlines so that they can plan their day.
Jayashree stresses that Cenza has a policy of equality in compensation without gender discrimination.
Whether women’s contribution to the organisation’s growth, or the organisation’s policies that encourage women’s growth, Cenza has identified and struck the right balance to ensure gender parity.