Women and the Corporate World: Appearance to a Presumption
Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1931
, Published on 26 November 2013
The condemnation and subjugation of women is not new. The atrocious treatment that women were often a recipient of abounds in the pages of history and ergo is a well acknowledged fact. Women during the early 1800s and late 1900s were not allowed to go to school let alone envisage for themselves a prospective career where they can earn like their male counterpart. In the bygone era, a robust rational mind of a woman was pummeled and buffeted by deeming her as the “devil’s other” because she dared to use her mind, a forbidden thing to do according to the “learned patriarchs” of their age.
In the 21st era, the insubordination towards women has decreased tremendously if not disappeared. Today, women are climbing the social ladder and working hard to create a niche for themselves in this male dominated world. The situation of women has improved stupendously, with more and more women entering the corporate world donning their well deserved and hard earned degrees. The change owes its existence and allegiance to the support and responsibility of good samaritans in the form of people who have devoted their lives for the upliftment and empowerment of women.
Organizations have contributed greatly in making themselves women friendly. From various benefits to special women safety cells, some companies have gone all out to ensure the safety and well being of women. Today, women are becoming more active and taking up coveted positions in a company, which supposedly is designated to be the sole domain of men. Recently, Arundati was conferred the title of Chairperson of India’s largest lender, State Bank of India. She is the youngest of the bank’s four MDs. Banking sector has its fair share of women at the apex, to name a few, the chairperson of Allahabad Bank is Shubhalakshmi Panse. Bank of India is chaired by Vijayalakshmi R Iyer and United Bank of India by Archana Bhargava, ICICI Bank is led by Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank by Shikha Sharma. Shobhna Bhartia is the CEO of HT media and Kalpana Morparia, CEO, JP Morgan, India.
A few contributing factors towards the upsurge of women venturing into the realm of the corporate is elucidated below and by no means is a comprehensive nor exhaustive list. The views are solely based on the author’s observation and analysis of recent trends pertaining to women and their role in the corporate world.
Gender Equality- Companies espousing and diligently following the protocol of “Gender Equality” render the survival of a woman in the corporate world. Gender Equality ensures that a corporate follows a conduct in which men and women employed in an organization are treated in a fair and equal comportment. The importance of gender equality to promote women empowerment is further emphasized by the vow taken up by six well-known companies to tag along in a programme which is dedicated towards the promotion of gender equality. This programme is a part of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, (source: economictimes), which has come up with a leadership programme to disseminate awareness and importance of adopting gender equality in workplace for empowerment of women. The six corporate establishments that have taken up the programme and are in the nascent phase of implementation are:
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The role of Human Resource Department- Development of HR in the recent years has contributed profoundly towards broadening of minds in favor of empowerment of women. The HR department of various companies have come up with polices which benefit women employees. For instance:
Maternity Leave- Referred to as a leave which a woman is entitled to prior to child birth. The leave is usually granted for a period of 12 weeks. “Maternity Benefit Act, 1961” has stated a couple of other benefits that women are entitled to and includes benefits which is paid to a woman to maintain balance between their professional and personal lives, an additional leave up to 10 months, and an average pay in case of miscarriage.
Flexible work hours- Companies have formulated a policy where working mothers can avail the benefit of working from home as well as operating on a flexible time schedule, according to their good judgment.
Parental Leave- Provides paid or unpaid leave to mothers to take care of their children.
Day care facilities- Some companies have even opened day care centres in their premises so that mothers can leave their children and engage themselves in work, with the comfort of not having to worry about their child.
Women Safety Cells- Special cells are set up in organizations dedicated to women, which take care of their safety needs. Issues like harassment are taken very seriously by organizations and any person found guilty of said crime is severely punished according to the rules and regulations of the company.
General Awareness- The onset of 21st century brought with itself an unprecedented phenomenon which entailed recognizing and working towards providing a better future for women. Their entry in to the corporate sector was highly encouraged and policy makers contributed towards laudable effort to ensure that women are treated in an equivalent manner as compared to men. In 2009, the Indian Labor Organization initiated a global plan which discussed the widespread dispersion of awareness vis-à-vis gender equality and working conditions of women.
Scholarship programmes by government - Scholarship schemes provided by the Indian Governmenthas helped women in creating their own empire. The government has come out with certain scholarships to help women to build a career for themselves. Schemes like, “Women’s Scientist Scheme-2012”, “Post-Graduate Indira Gandhi Scholarship for Single Girl Child”, “Scholarship in India for Girls from Lila Poonawalla Foundation”, have all contributed greatly in the creation of women entrepreneurs as well as minister their entry into the corporate world.
In summation, albeit the world has not always been reasonable towards the fair maiden, hope still lingers in the air. Companies are becoming aware of the vital role a woman can play in the workplace and consequently collaborating on spreading this awareness as well as abiding by it. Women have a long way to go when it comes to surviving in the corporate environment, however the recent changes mark an indication of blossoming work opportunities for women which will be directly proportional to the hard work and tenacity they put in.