International Women's Day 2023: Envisions of an Equitable Society for All

Remadevi Thottathil, Chief Human Resource Officer, Bahwan CyberTek, says “Diversity and inclusion conversations today have become more than mere topics of discussion. Organizations focused on employee experience are creating platforms and driving dialogues that compel allies to act and improve equity through conscious choices. Inclusive networks, like Bahwan CyberTek’s Women's Advancement, Transformation, Empowerment, and Recognition (WATER) play an important role in giving women a voice and giving them an opportunity to collaborate, learn, and network with other women leaders to tackle the glass ceiling together. This year’s theme focused on innovation and technology for gender equality resonates with our focus on building fit for future skills and solutions which is again driven largely by our inspiring women leaders.”

Bishnupriya Bhattacharya, Sr. software architect, Cadence Design Systems, says "One-way women can encourage other women to aim for an accomplished future is by sharing their own success stories from the past. When women share their stories of how they overcame obstacles, achieved their goals, and made a difference in their fields, it can inspire and motivate other women to pursue their own aspirations.Here are some specific ways that women can encourage other women:

Mentorship: Women can act as mentors to other women, sharing their knowledge, experience, and advice. This can help younger women or those just starting out in their careers to navigate the challenges they may face.

Networking: Women can introduce other women to their professional networks, opening up new opportunities for them and helping them to build relationships with other successful women.

Sharing resources: Women can share resources such as articles, books, podcasts, and other content that can help other women to learn and grow in their fields.

Celebrating success: Women can celebrate the successes of other women, publicly acknowledging their achievements and sharing their stories of inspiration with others.

Following these practices, women can create a supportive and empowering community that encourages all women to aim for an accomplished future."

Zaiba Sarang, Co-founder, iThink Logistics, says "The logistics industry in India is facing a significant challenge in terms of low female representation. According to a Gartner report in 2021, only 41% of the workforce in the supply chain in India comprises women. The number of women at the executive level has also fallen from 17% in 2020 to 15% in 2021, indicating a worrying trend. Observing the numbers, it becomes apparent that the increase in supply chain efficiency is largely due to technological advancements. One such example is the Warehousing Management System (WMS), which has had a profound impact on the logistics industry. One of the benefits of WMS is its ability to keep clear track of inventory. This has not only led to better optimization of operations but has also resulted in a reduction of time spent on manual tasks. As a result, more women are being drawn to the logistics industry, as WMS makes it easier for them to keep track of inventory and streamline their work.Data analytics is also an important tool in a DigitALL approach, as it can help to identify and address gender bias and other inequalities in the workplace. By leveraging data analytics, logistics companies can create more equitable working environments and foster greater collaboration and creativity among their employees. Overall, a DigitALL approach is key to unlocking the full potential of the logistics sector and creating a more sustainable and equitable future. By embracing digital technology and promoting diversity and inclusion, we can create a more innovative, efficient, and inclusive logistics industry that benefits everyone".

Jyoti Dabas, Co-Founder Fittr - "Technology is a great equaliser, and we at FITTR have always believed in the power of being a technology-first online fitness community. We constantly strive to invest in the latest technological advancements with an aim to give the world barrier-free access to fitness & nutrition knowledge and guidance. One exciting outcome of this has been seeing more women from all walks of life embracing fitness and working towards transforming their lives. And it’s not just the lakhs of female community members who have used technology to get fit; FITTR is also proud to be powered by around 300 female coaches and employees, working dedicatedly to transform lives through the power of technology!"

Zoho Spokesperson: Kuppulakshmi Krishnamoorthy, Global Head - Zoho for Startups, Zoho Corp, says Closing the gender divide in the digital age has become imperative and more critical in the post-pandemic world. However, even a global initiative of “inclusive digital education” is only going to help in scratching the surface of the “inclusivity” iceberg. Because, inclusion calls for so many dots to connect—the economic conditions of the region, social mindset and generational practices, the geographic location and political situation where transformative technology has no relevance yet, and so on. Hence, to eliminate barriers and to minimise the gap, it is going to take specific efforts that are custom-made to specific regions. For example: the barriers to digital literacy is not the same for India as compared to many regions of Africa where, for example, initiatives around eliminating poverty takes priority in comparison with initiatives empowering girl children.

In India, there has been consistent progress in interweaving women’s inclusion in the digital and technological world along with strengthening their safety and security as well. The Government of India has taken numerous steps and launched various schemes to empower the girl children and to get to the root of lack of inclusion. There are initiatives for women that specifically focus on reducing the rural-urban divide and making digital tools more accessible to reduce the economic divide and help with choosing more local champions to eliminate problems that are acutely local.

Corporates and large business entities are more aware of their social responsibilities and are investing more of their time and resources in bringing back women to work and to include more marginalised groups into the world of technology. New definitions of “what is work” and “what is workplace” are being written, in order to have a wholesome understanding of the future of work and also to be prepared for it.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”

Srividhya Deshpande (HR Head and Sr. HR Director, SpringML, Inc.), says "It's time to adopt a progressive perspective on gender, rather than a narrow one, to help young girls achieve their dreams and grow into women with vision. The DigitALL initiative aims to use innovation and technology to create a world where diversity and inclusion are fundamental principles of the industry, not just buzzwords. As a woman in the tech industry, I have personally witnessed the potential of innovation and technology to break gender barriers and create new opportunities for women".

Tarusha Mittal, COO and Co-Founder, Dapps and UniFarm, says "Creating an environment that encourages and supports women in leadership is crucial. This means breaking down systemic barriers that hinder women's progress and providing them with the necessary resources to succeed. By celebrating the achievements of women leaders and striving for gender equality in all spheres of life, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Moreover, women's unique perspectives, life experiences, and ways of thinking can offer valuable insights that drive innovative solutions to complex problems. A diverse group of leaders fosters creativity and creates an inclusive environment that leads to better decision-making. We must recognize and embrace the value that women bring to the table and actively work towards increasing their representation in leadership positions".

Raisa Kazi, VP of Marketing at Liminal, a digital wallet infrastructure platform, says "Investing and building wealth has always been portrayed as men’s domain. Women are primarily dependent on their male counterparts in the family or friends circle to guide them in taking investment decisions. Wearing a thinking hat on investments has never been a women’s forte, and this is what society has been telling her. But this isn't true, given the current scenarios. Women are taking charge of their financial standings as they are getting exposed to information and learnings via all the channels and opportunities that are available. Globally 21% of crypto investors are women, in fact, most finance influencers are women, and this says the time has already changed.

Women have excellent decision-making skills, the ability to hold and keep patience in difficult situations, and access risks and build for their loved ones. These innate skills come in handy while investing too. Real estate saw massive growth of 50% in 2022, and women investors were buying homes as governments offered lucrative interest rates. Women are investing in stocks and growing by over 70% year-on-year, and their portfolios are performing even better than their male counterparts because of the capacity to stay invested; not only this, but even in crypto, women have shown fierce attitudes and invested and built wealth, riding the wave as and when needed. I too invested in some digital assets after doing my research, and post last year's dip, I saw a remarkable recovery in my portfolio at the start of this year. My portfolio is up by 30%, and I also earned staking rewards, a passive income that adds further value to my investments".

Jaya Mehrotra, Leadership Coach and Founder of Women Leadership Circle, says "Women leaders in business are setting examples by demonstrating their skills, capabilities, and resilience in the face of adversity. Their success is a testament to their hard work, determination, and unwavering commitment to their goals. By leading with empathy, authenticity, and inclusivity, they are driving positive change and creating a more equitable future for all.

Women's networking is a critical tool for achieving empowerment, providing a supportive community of like-minded individuals who can offer guidance, mentorship, and resources to help us achieve our goals. By supporting and uplifting each other, we can break down barriers and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women to thrive.

On this Women's Day, let us remember that true empowerment comes not from breaking the glass ceiling, but from shattering the limitations we place upon ourselves. As women, we possess a strength and resilience that can move mountains. Let us harness that power to not only achieve our own success, but to uplift and inspire the women around us to do the same. Let us lead with grace, courage, and unwavering determination, for the future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams."

Krutika Lal Co-Founder and CMO Aretto, says "Digital innovation and technology have immense potential to create a level playing field for women entrepreneurs. By providing access to education, eliminating bias in recruitment and hiring processes, encouraging entrepreneurship, and improving work-life balance, we can break down traditional barriers and create opportunities for women to excel in fields that were previously dominated by men. As a female co-founder of a tech and design-led kids' footwear brand, I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of digital technology. We need to continue pushing the boundaries of what's possible and work together to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to thrive in our digital world".

Anupama Katkar, Chairperson of Quick Heal Foundation and Chief of Operational Excellence, Quick Heal Technologies Limited, says "Equity to Equality: Women Who Are Setting Examples with Their Business Leadership Skills Women have a knack for excelling at everything they put their minds to, with their natural talent for multitasking, they have time and again proven themselves to be capable leaders across sectors. Traditionally, running a household was no less than entrepreneurship as we know of it today– managing it all, from chores, complex relationships, expectations, and finances – basically ALL!. Therefore, they are naturally trained to excel at it. However, what is most important is, that they need to step up from their comfort zone and own their journeys – they need to be determined enough to leverage opportunities! Women today are conquering new frontiers through their innovative, solution-centric bent of mind. There are several examples within the cybersecurity sector as well where women, through their able leadership, have taken businesses to new heights. Also, it is my strong belief that every woman and young girl in India holds the potential to become a successful entrepreneur, given the right set of opportunities and resources in the form of the right education, nutrition, and health. At Quick Heal through our CSR initiative, we fully understand and acknowledge this, which is why many of our programmes are aimed at providing young girls and women with better healthcare, skills, and cyber education, a combination that can open up several new avenues for them".

Gurmukh Roopra, CEO, Namdhari’s Group, says “Women play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing. Women in rural India make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience. Achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is essential in uplifting rural livelihoods. Giving women the same opportunities as men could raise agricultural production by 2.5% to 4% and reduce the number of malnourished people by 12% to 17%. Namdhari’s is committed to empowering women in agriculture. We currently have around 500 rural women across multiple entities, who form the backbone of many of our farming ventures. We provide each of them with at least one nutritious filled free meal, healthcare with an in-house clinic and other statutory benefits amongst other facilities. Most importantly, we feel that they are integral members at the heart of our family. Achieving gender equity in rural areas is especially challenging and agribusinesses can do their part by empowering the rural women who work for them.”

Sujendra GS, VP, Human Resources, Creative Synergies Group, says “What counts as equity? In a workplace, do women have the same opportunities to rise up as men? Will giving them equal opportunities without considering their needs count as equity? Not in most cases. The first step to embracing equity comes from recognizing the fact that differences exist.

Post pandemic, as we slowly transition from remote work to hybrid work model, organizations need to uniquely support women – especially mothers and caregivers who are juggling multiple roles in their workday. Their outside obligations are different than some of their male co-workers and they need to be given the flexibility and support to get their work accomplished without looking at quitting as their only solution. Businesses thrive in their DE&I initiatives when they make efforts to provide a level playing ground to their employees, despite the differences.

With the ongoing economic uncertainties, the demand-supply gap in India has increased, with a supply rate of 21%, which is the lowest among top tech locations such as the US, China and UK. However, there is a large untapped resource that can help companies address the skill gap: women. This is an opportunity for Indian businesses to reassess their investment in skill development, equip women within the organization with high-demand skills, and look into hiring more skilled women professionals. A recent report from Skillsoft found that more than work-life balance, and other organizational incentives, 52% of women in IT value learning and development. Empowering them with equitable opportunities can allow decision makers to redress the balance, and wholeheartedly embrace equity. We, at Creative believe that upskilling during a break is a great way to learn and stay relevant. Our Sabbatical policy is specifically designed to ensure that “Creative” women can utilize the break to reskill/upskill themselves. Creative also has policies in place for reimbursement of professional career development costs. We are exploring newer initiatives to renew our commitment to “Creative” women in a more concrete and meaningful way.”