While the movement to ‘empower women’ is as old as the hills, progress is still suspiciously sketchy, not just in India but in several countries across the world.
If you look at the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap rankings that measure gender equality, it is not the US or UK but Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Norway, Finland or Sweden, that routinely top the list. These countries have got to where they have because women in those countries have equal access to employment opportunities as well as political participation. In many emerging markets, including India, patriarchy and parochialism still have the upper hand. Hence, most women in such societies face an uphill journey.
Empowerment like charity begins at home, and it is no surprise that when one listens to the narrative of most successful women entrepreneurs and CEOs, the consistent thread is one of a supportive father when they were growing up and then of an equally encouraging spouse as they went about building their careers.
Not everyone is equally lucky and, therefore, it is heartening to note that some companies are indeed going beyond their brief and creating conditions for women employees to succeed. In their own way, they are trying to ensure a level playing field.
That is why we are delighted to present the first-ever ranking of India’s Best Workplaces for Women. Great Place to Work Institute's framework and our senior correspondent Shruti Venkatesh’s legwork has made this edition possible. The listing of top companies is followed by a detailed account of what companies are doing to make their workplace more conducive for women.
Even as some companies are walking the talk on gender diversity, for this transformation to happen on a large scale, companies have to realise that nurturing, supporting and retaining promising women employees makes eminent economic sense. These employees carry with them a legacy of learning and situational work experience. By retaining them or getting them back after a break, companies can save considerable amount of time, effort and resources that might otherwise be needed to train someone new to fill that position.