Women's Equality Day is observed in the United States on August 26 each year to honour the arduous struggle for women's suffrage and to raise awareness of the ongoing fight for gender equality.
This day has important symbolic significance, particularly for working women. It serves as a reminder of the advancements that have been achieved, the obstacles that still need to be overcome, and the significance of fostering an atmosphere that is welcoming and equal so that women may succeed professionally.
"Empowering women involves more than just breaking barriers—it's about shaping a future filled with boundless opportunities. With every stride, we carve a path that's resolute and purposeful, mapping our journey towards a horizon adorned with progress.
As we gather in the circle of sisterhood, remember, it's not about fitting into the man's world, but sculpting our own universe. Together, we're not just leaders and entrepreneurs, but architects of a reality where equality isn't a milestone, but the very foundation. Here's to not just leaning in, but building up, rising beyond, and reaching back. Happy Women's Equality Day!," says Jaya Mehrotra, a prominent leadership coach and Founder of Women Leadership Circle.
“Gender equality is the cornerstone of a just and progressive society. It fosters inclusivity, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, have the same rights, opportunities, and treatment. It dismantles harmful stereotypes, enabling individuals to pursue their aspirations without constraints,” says Neha Bahri, Founder, Bconnect Communications, an integrated marketing communication firm.
She further adds, “Gender equality drives economic growth by tapping into the full potential of the workforce. It empowers women, breaking cycles of discrimination and violence. Men benefit too, as they can express emotions and interests freely. In essence, gender equality creates a world where everyone thrives, fostering a harmonious and fair global community built on respect and shared dignity.”
Neha further believes that, in the modern working world, equality signifies a realm where women's ambitions aren't limited by their gender. It means earning the same as male counterparts for equal work, shattering glass ceilings, and holding leadership roles. Equality ensures fair treatment, from hiring to promotions, free from biases.
Dr. Neelam Gupta, Founder, President & CEO, AROH Foundation puts the challenge at hand into perspective through some alrming statistics, “According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2020, women currently earn about 63% of what men earn globally. Only 29% of senior management positions globally were held by women, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report. Globally, women's labor force participation rate is about 47%, compared to 74% for men (World Bank, 2020).
As per Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's Women's Entrepreneurship Report 2020/2021, the gender gap in entrepreneurship rates across 43 economies is 14.7%, with men being more likely to start and own businesses. The statistics may vary across countries, geographies, and industries. While progress has been made in some areas, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace worldwide.”
Gender equality in the workplace is not just about fairness, it is about unlocking the full potential of individuals and organizations. When we create an inclusive environment where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive and contribute, we foster innovation, drive economic growth, and build a more equitable society.
The current scenario reflects a mix of progress and ongoing challenges, with a growing recognition of the importance of gender equality and a need for continued efforts to achieve it.
All the more today, it becomes important to take stock of where gender equality has reached today. Women leaders from across India share with us their perspective on achieving equality at the workplace and share the pioneering steps being taken by their respective organizations to achieve true equality.
Serial entrepreneur Shreedha Singh, CEO and Co- Founder, The Ayurveda Co. tells us, “On this Women's Equality Day, as the Co-Founder & CEO of T.A.C - The Ayurveda Company, I proudly echo the theme 'Embrace Equity.' Navigating the entrepreneurial odyssey, my focus remains steadfast on skills, expertise, and vision, regardless of gender. Challenges, though not exclusive to women, become stepping stones to growth. Starting as a woman entrepreneur introduces distinct dynamics, met with unwavering determination.
The journey is colored by challenges arising from geography, mindset, and culture. Through resilience, adaptability, and united networks, we conquer these obstacles.
As I continue charting unexplored domains, my belief in my capabilities remains unshaken. Diversity is the cornerstone of entrepreneurship, reshaping norms and society. While the 'woman' label adds nuance to my journey, it's the unique blend of strength and resilience that truly defines it. This day commemorates progress while acknowledging that embracing equity enriches not only individual narratives but also the societal tapestry at large."
The Human Resource Perspective
Bringing an HR’s perspective on the importance of equality at work Shobha Saini, AVP - HR, Internshala (an internship and online training platform) says, “Based on my experience of leading the HR team at Internshala for 6+ years now, it simply takes building a non-discriminatory culture in your organisation and team goes a long way in achieving the same. It is utmost necessary that this is enabled by the leaders of the organisation and hence is followed by all the employees in the organisation. At Internshala, we just hire the right talent without any discrimination based on gender, and each and every decision regarding work assignments, remuneration, or promotions are made entirely based on the capabilities of the team member irrespective of their gender. As a result of such efforts, we have noticed a substantial increase in women making job applications and an increase in their hiring rate. We currently have 15+ teams at Internshala including Finance, HR, Social Media Marketing, Visual Design, PR, Product Management, Marketing, Support, Operations, and an Engineering team being led by women leaders.
In tandem with cultivating an equitable culture, the value of perpetual learning and the implementation of progressive policies cannot be underestimated. An illustrative example is our recent introduction of a menstrual leave policy at Internshala, a testament to our dedication to constructing a truly inclusive environment for menstruating employees.”
The Road Ahead: Empowering Women in the Workplace
The cause of gender equality and the advancement of women's rights grows along with society. Women's Equality Day is a moment to acknowledge accomplishments, pay tribute to trailblazing individuals, and recognize the work that remains to be done. Several actions may be made in order to completely empower women in the workplace including equal pay, Flexible Work Policies, Education and Training & providing mentorship.
Divya Mohan, Chief Human Resource Officer, InsuranceDekho highlights the steps taken by the digital platform. "At InsuranceDekho, we are firmly dedicated to creating a workplace where no matter the gender are treated equally. Gender equality isn't just about making progress; it's a fundamental human right. By promoting fairness, we understand the importance of breaking down obstacles and unfair judgments that hold people back. This isn't just good for our company; it's good for everyone.
At InsuranceDekho, we are wholeheartedly committed to this goal. We believe in a workplace where everyone's opinions matter, no matter what their gender is we offer opportunities that don't care about stereotypes or biases. In doing so, we tap into the hidden talents of all our team members, creating a place where diversity and inclusion are valued."
Charu Kunwar, Group head of HR at Lighthouse Canton, a global investment institution says, “At Lighthouse Canton, we believe that true progress and success come from embracing equity in every aspect of our work. Our organizational ethos is built on the principles of diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities. We remain steadfast in our commitment to empowering the team.
Each day, we strive to break free from unconscious bias to ensure that every voice is heard and respected, actively pursuing an environment where people are not constrained by gender or any other division. On Women's Equality Day, we reaffirm our dedication to fostering an inclusive culture, providing everyone an equal opportunity to thrive and succeed. Equity isn’t just an expression for us but is the foundation of our culture.
Women's Equality Day serves as a sobering reminder of the accomplishments in the fight for gender parity as well as the continuous work required to build a more accepting society, particularly in the workplace. We can jointly work towards a future in which women are acknowledged, represented, and empowered in all professions by acknowledging the historical significance of this day and actively pursuing equality.
By commemorating the past and advocating for the future on Women's Equality Day, we pave the way for a world where every woman's potential is unleashed and every workplace thrives on true equality.