Women account for about 28% of India’s workforce, and according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) equal participation by women can increase India’s GDP manifold. Global consulting firm McKinsey estimates that bridging this gender gap can help add over USD 700 billion to the Indian GDP by 2025.
There is good news for women in the workforce now because of the changing socio-economic landscape which spells hope and opportunity for an increasing the number of working women. Recent research indicates that many women are transitioning towards self-employment which will have an overall beneficial effect.
The trend is taking hold in start-ups, and is gradually percolating down to other sectors/industries too. The Government too is encouraging greater participation of women in the workforce and amended existing maternity laws in 2017 to ensure that women can access 26-week maternity leave and creche facilities.
India is said to be the 3rd biggest start-up hub in the world. To further boost start-up ecosystem, the Government announced the ‘Start-up India Vision 2024’. Various Government schemes and initiatives are expected to help boost the start-up ecosystem even further. Tax exemptions and tax incentives are being considered for start-up investments.
As of now, women are estimated to constitute a mere 22% of the workforce employed by start-ups. C One of the reasons for this is that e-commerce and consumer services companies require a large, front-end workforce for delivery, and they are usually men. Since almost 80% of start-ups prefer to recruit from competition to hire people with the requisite experience, the hiring ratio gets further skewed.
While the number of women entrepreneurs is rising, women are largely perceived as low risk-takers, especially in the very competitive start-up space. But with increasing funding options, which are gender neutral, and technology allowing a level playing field, the situation is slowly but surely changing for the better.
There are numerous examples of women who have launched start-ups and achieved success – Sunita Maheshwari, a paediatric cardiologist and co-founder of Teleradiology Solutions; Rati Shetty, Chief Product Officer and Co-founder, BankBazaar.com., Anisha Singh, Founder and CEO, mydala.com; and Falguni Nayar
Founder & CEO of Nykaa are all successful entrepreneurs, among many others.
Several start-ups are looking to hire more women, even in areas of work such as engineering. Online marketplace Droom was looking to fill about 60% of its vacancies with women. Flipkart has been promoting women in technology and has been actively advocating the idea of GenE (Generation of Equals).
The Indian start-up sector took a lead in bridging pay disparity with organisations like Fynd inviting not only more women engineers to join them but at a 10% higher pay. Many companies have started consciously recruiting more women employees and organisations like Sheroes, JobsForHer, HerSecondInnings, Avtar I-Win are actively matching women with opportunities. While the Government has taken concrete steps to encourage greater participation of women in the workforce, focussed efforts for creating more opportunities, appropriate training programmes and correct employer attitudes will help bridge this gap further.