In 2013, CII launched the Indian Women Network (IWN) with the vision of being the largest network for career women. The thought behind the formation of IWN was that career women need to meet other women to discuss and overcome challenges that they may be facing at the workplace while presenting to each other opportunities that were present in the ecosystem. The network was initiated in the southern region and has spread to 15 states across the country.
Today’s professional set up requires not only core competence but also continuous and comprehensive learning and adapting to worldwide best practices. A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame revealed that women who communicate regularly with a female-dominated inner circle are more likely to attain high-ranking leadership positions. IWN works towards enabling women to become better professionals and achievers in their respective fields by providing various need-based services through:
This is achieved year on year through events that are organized by each chapter whereby members get an opportunity to network, learn and exchange ideas. It is also supplemented by exposing women to new opportunities presented by the ecosystem. In addition to regional events, IWN, along with the CII National Committee on Women Empowerment ideates on how we can collectively influence the ecosystem through advocacy and onground examples to push forward the objective of inclusion and growth of women in the workforce.
As 2018 began, the Committee and IWN consciously decided to focus efforts on a few areas and activities that directly impact the participation of women in the workforce including:
Inclusion of women in Corporate India: Focussing on inclusion of women in the workforce, the CII Committee on Women Empowerment developed and through IWN launched the ‘Gender Diagnostic Tool’ through an orientation workshop organised in Delhi. The tool aims to enable companies to be able to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities to create more opportunities for women. Similar orientation workshops will be organized by IWN across all regions to enable companies to gather gender data while providing suggestions around the proactive steps that they can take to become more inclusive. It is envisioned that the data that comes through will bring to light key advocacy suggestions for corporates as well as the Government.
Continuing with the focus on building capacity of corporate India, the CII committee on women empowerment and IWN have also launched a mentoring program that aims at mentoring 20 high promise women from Mumbai and Chennai by 20 high profile mentors. The program has just been initiated and the results are awaited.
CII IWN also completed an initiative on coaching companies to be more inclusive with 8 companies in Kerala. The initiative extended over a period of 9 months and focussed on developing work place interventions and capacities to enable companies to become more inclusive and equitable. CII hopes to introduce the interventions to all the signatories of the Equal Opportunity Pledge and convince more companies to sign up for the programme.
Extending the work beyond corporate India, CII IWN is working closely with the Women Incubation hub of the Government of Telangana (WEHUB) for drafting the policy on Women in Workforce with the objective of promoting the inclusion of women in the workforce and helping them to attain leadership positions. Internally, IWN also realised that while all the above attempts were trying to get women into the workforce, it was felt that addressing the cause of safety for women would play a key role in addressing the issue of accessibility of jobs for women. IWN Southern region, West Bengal and Jharkhand have already initiated collaborative efforts with the state police, corporates and other stakeholders to make their cities safe. IWN hopes to undertake concrete initiatives across all our chapters to promote safety for women in cities.