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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): ACT For Women launches the Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report (WISER), in collaboration with The Udaiti Foundation

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ACT, a non-profit venture philanthropy platform, has announced the launch of the Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report (WISER) 2023 in collaboration with The Udaiti Foundation –  the study is a part of their larger Pact For Gender Parity initiative which aims to accelerate India’s progress towards gender equity at the workplace.
According to a McKinsey report, increasing women’s workforce participation could add $700+ billion to India’s GDP by 2025. And yet, as per the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index 2022, India ranks in the bottom 5 on women’s economic participation.
With the belief that Indian startups are uniquely placed to disrupt the status quo from within, WISER aims to understand the drivers for gender diversity within the startup ecosystem by focusing on women’s representation across employment levels, spotlighting best practices that have helped improve women’s participation and providing action-oriented insights with individual scorecards, case studies and playbooks.
With many startups already on board ACT’s Pact For Gender Parity, including Freshworks, Urban Company, Supertails and more, the goal for WISER is to drive women’s workforce participation by partnering with them to collaboratively assess and address demand-side barriers to women’s employment at all levels – from entry positions to leadership roles.
Says Aakanksha Gulati, Director – ACT, “An increasing body of evidence suggests that increasing women’s workforce participation can unlock huge value for businesses – with significant impact on talent, culture, reputation, retention and financial performance. By targeting 350-500 startups to begin with, we’re excited to share that WISER will be one of the largest gender efforts to work closely with Indian startups, across different sectors and business life cycles. We aim to not only understand the current level of women’s participation within the ecosystem but also co-create ways to advance it over the coming decade.”
“The focus on innovation, an inherent bias for action and the drive to build enduring organisations are common denominators across all startups. At ACT, we strongly believe that they can rewrite the playbook for gender diversity and pioneer the transformation of the landscape. WISER is just the beginning – the Pact For Gender Parity will further enable member startups to set gender diversity goals, monitor key metrics towards achieving them, access curated resources to implement diversity initiatives and over time, participate in pilot programs and implement proven models to scale successful interventions.” said Suman Gopalan, CHRO – FreshWorks and Advisor – ACT For Women.
WISER will adopt a mixed methodology approach including surveys and one-on-one in-depth conversations with key stakeholders like founders, CHROs, employees as well as VC partners and cover multiple parameters like hiring, retention, progression, attrition etc.
Says Abhiraj Bhal, Founder – Urban Company, “Startups are a driving force for employment in India and it’s only logical for us to double down on shifting the needle on gender diversity. The Pact For Gender Parity is a much needed initiative that can enable the startup ecosystem to lead the change on this front in a way that connects with our business goals and realities. Urban Company is proud to participate in WISER and we look forward to collaborating with ACT For Women on creating meaningful impact.”
“The startup economy is changing how we solve problems in India and at Udaiti, we are confident that this very same fundamental drive will also become key to bringing about unique solutions to build equity at the workplace. Our aim is to co-create change with the startup ecosystem through the Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report, to increase the agency of women who work in the sector,” said Doorva Bahuguna, who helms private sector programs and SBCC at The Udaiti Foundation.
The first edition of WISER, with LEAD at KREA University as the other key partner, will apply a gendered lens on the startup economy to draw valuable insights and is scheduled for release in June, 2023.
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