In the aftermath of the global pandemic, the world is being reshaped by accelerated digitization, enhanced focus on sustainability, socio-economic changes and the need for progressive labour practices across industries. The potential for innovation is immense, and to achieve this, we need a more inclusive and gender-equal world.
However, as is the case with any social or economic crisis, its impact is felt more severely by certain groups owing to social structures, discrimination, poverty, denial of education and social injustice. As per a Trust Radius 2021 Women in Tech report, women are nearly twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs during the pandemic and 57% of women felt burnt out at work last year, compared to 36% of men. The pandemic also brought to focus the disproportionate representation of women in certain industries more affected by COVID such as human health, education, travel & hospitality among others.
It is essential for us to recover, and this is the time to act – to #BreaktheBias, to provide stability and create conditions for women to influence, participate in and lead the change they want to see. In recognition of this, IWD 2022 has chosen the theme of “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, to celebrate and honour women in leading the charge on climate change adaptation and contribution towards a sustainable future.
Sustainability and Technology
Individual awareness and choices are driving innovation. Corporates are striving to be more socially responsible.
Organizations are leveraging technology to create sustainable ecosystems and green solutions around the world and there are significant strides being made in renewable energy, recycling and waste management, environmental health, and smart agriculture. New and exciting technologies are driving innovation and disrupting the way traditional industries operate across the entire value chain. For instance, Cloud-based digital platforms, IoT and blockchain-enabled tracking, AI & advanced analytics are empowering farmers to better manage their farms, optimize productivity, reduce pilferage, and obtain the best price for their produce. There are multiple startups in the country founded by women entrepreneurs that are using digital technologies to drive fundamental social change at the grass-root level.
Gender diversity and equal participation in these initiatives is essential to understand the current challenges, develop inclusive and environmentally sound solutions, create positive role models who are women and build a sustainable roadmap for the future.
Women need to take charge and lead from the front
While women’s empowerment has caught on as an important theme over the last few years, there have always been several inspiring women leaders in many industries paving their own path to affecting change. In the realm of environment and sustainability, there is incredible work being done by women like Winona LaDuke (renewable energy & sustainable food systems), Isatou Ceesay (recycling & income generation) , Autumn Peltier (safe water protection), Helen Clarkson (sustainability issues & partnerships) and Vandana Shiva (biodiversity conservation) to name just a few. If you aren’t familiar with these women, I encourage you to find out more about them and follow their work.
It is crucial to create awareness that women are strongly influencing government policies, incentives and legislation, corporate initiatives, digitally native startups while driving meaningful partnership between communities and conglomerates.
With the current global talent crunch, there is a tremendous opportunity for women who are already part of the workforce to play a bigger role and for women who have taken a break to come back with aplomb. More importantly, perhaps, the biggest opportunity is for women who have earned educational degrees but never worked due to societal pressure, family responsibilities or gender stereotypes. It is never too late and the moment is now for them to put their education to good use and begin a career through which they can be productively engaged, financially independent and confidently secure while setting the right example to their young children.
Organizations are more welcoming than ever before and have dedicated programs to hire more women, welcome back those who have been on a break and drive greater participation from women in leadership roles. It is equally vital to reflect on the roles of women outside of the technology world as well, to ensure we are not just driving inclusivity in a few industries but are diversifying and ensuring women participate in multiple areas.
This will require awareness, a change in mindset and sustained initiatives at all levels to achieve diversity across industries. Some of the non-negotiables required to get there are –
– Removing unconscious biases at home and the workplace
– Specialized training for young girls and women for on-demand skills
– Family-friendly policies to support flexible hours
– Support system for mental wellness and physical well being
– Women role models that can create influence and provide mentorship
– Promote visibility and recognition
– Equal pay based on skillset
– Commitment to diversity from the top
Be the Change
While a conducive environment always helps, the change needs to start with the way young girls and women think about themselves. I would encourage women to –
– Identify areas of Interest along with short-term and long-term goals
– Take leadership seriously and build a support network
– Constantly learn and upskill yourself
– Be assertive – say NO and know when to ask for help
– Maintain physical and mental health
– Own ‘being a woman’ and take pride in the diversity you bring in
It is heartening to note that at least in the tech industry, a lot of the programs mentioned above are already in place and we are paving the path towards an engaging, empathetic, diverse, and inclusive future. The stage has been set, the results will come and the opportunity has never been greater – it is up to women to show up, take charge and seize the day!
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Poornima Bethmangalkar is the General Manager and Head of the Industrial and Manufacturing business at Happiest Minds. She brings over two decades of rich industry experience and is currently focused on helping our customers to achieve the true value of Digitization, so they can be future-ready. She is passionate about building trust and creating impact through digital transformation, partner collaboration and driving customer success by connecting People, Products and Experiences.