Woman Empowerment in Corporate World By FCS Mukesh Karna and CMA Kalyani Karna


E m p o w e r i n g     W o me n     E m p o w  e r i n g     I n d i a

Today, the empowerment of women is augmenting parity with men to boost their confidence level so as to contribute to the development of the country and participate in the political, social and economic life of the country. Legal empowerment of women is the provision of an effective legal structure supporting the empowerment of women whereas, political empowerment concludes to a sound political system augmenting the participation of women in political decision-making process and governance. The corporate has been playing a significant role in empowering women in various ways and means. The actions and policies adopted by companies’ evidence for their contribution to the advancement of women empowerment around the world. Companies emphasise awareness to bring gender equality in the workplace which enables to empower women professionals. The collective efforts of corporate and government will lead to the robust entrepreneurial network of women and will foster economic growth of our country.

INTRODUCTION:
 
India is the second most populous country in the world embarked with the population of 1,349,875,377 (1.34 billion) as of February 26, 2018, out of which there are 652,799,732 (65.2 crores) females. The current sex ratio is 945 females per 1,000 males. (Source: India online). India stands at 125thposition out of 159 countries on the gender inequality index and 108th on the global gender gap index (Source: World economic forum). India has been ranked at 120th position among 131 countries for employing women workforce. The women workforce in India constitutes 27% as against 79.9% males (Source: Indian Express). This paper attempts to throw light on the women power and the problems faced by them at the workplace and how the corporate and government are empowering them.
 
DEFINING EMPOWERMENT:
 
According to the report of World Bank, the term empowerment accords to self-strength, self-control, self-reliance, own choice, and life of dignity, independence, authority and control over resources, the capability to fight for right, decision making, and awakening. Empowerment has intrinsic value and instrumental value and relevant at the individual and collective level, and it can be economic, social, or political. Hence, in the broadest sense, empowerment is the expansion of freedom of choice and action. Empowerment of women is the buzz now-a-days. Today, the empowerment of women is augmenting parity with men to boost their confidence level so as to contribute to the development of a country and participate in the political, social and economic life of a country. Legal empowerment of women is the provision of an effective legal structure supporting the empowerment of women whereas, political empowerment concludes with a sound political system augmenting the participation of women in political decision-making process and governance.
 
COMPANIES ADVOCATING EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN:
 
The corporates have been playing a significant role in empowering women in various ways and means. The actions and policies adopted by companies’ evidence for their contribution to the advancement of women empowerment around the world. Companies emphasise awareness to bring gender equality in the work place which enables to empower women professionals. Corporate have taken an initiative to provide specific skills to women professionals to empower women in the organization and to bring gender equality. The key indicators are quantifiable measures of the effectiveness of organizational initiatives on empowerment of women professionals is work life integration and career longevity. Empowering women and achieving gender equality requires intentional actions and deliberate policies. The WEPs (Women Empowerment Principles) have inspired companies around the world to tailor existing policies and programmes for women empowerment. WEPs Companies propagated 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development where the leaders from the world made commitments to contribute to the economic empowerment of women and girls. One of the seventeen sustainable development goals is gender equality. It aims to provide equality to women and girls for education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
 
The list of some of the eminent companies and their contribution towards the empowerment of women has been summarised here:
 

Number

Company

 Contribution

1.

Rio Tinto

 The company included women in the consultation process. Rio Tinto was also able to better map the land as women had a deeper knowledge of the pasture lands and seasonal fluctuations. 

2.

Kellogg (in partnership with CARE)

Kellogg Company, a global food producer, has partnered with CARE, a non-governmental humanitarian and development organization, to empower women smallholder farmers from poor. The programme targets to train women smallholder farmers and to enhance women’s participation in the maize value chain. It will make the women independent and have social standing. 

3.

Coca-Cola

 5by20 program of Coca-Cola supported women entrepreneurs around the world either farmers to retailers. The company helped to address the barriers they face to succeed in business.
 

4.

Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee

 The company initiated CHICA (Community of Intelligent Sisters with Open Hearts). The program aims to raise self-esteem, gender awareness and create educational and economic opportunities for girls.
 

5.

KPMG

 KPMG in the Netherlands sponsors a ‘Women in Leadership Program’ in cooperation with Women’s World Banking. It helps to understand their unique leadership style, and making good decisions.

6.

MAS Holdings

The company initiated the “Go Beyond Program” in Sri Lanka. The program aimed to provide career development, life skills education and recognition for female garment workers.  

7.

Accord Hotel

 Accord Hotel is committed to employing 35% women hotel managers and reducing the pay gap between men and women.

8.

GAP Inc

 The company educate one million women across the world through Personal Advance & Career Enhancement which includes classes on communication skills, financial literacy, problem-solving, health and wellness.
 
ROADBLOCKS FOR WOMAN IN CORPORATE WORLD:
 
India has grown from leaps and bounds and provides protection to women on the constitutional, legal, and other framework. But the women workforce participation has dropped. The female labour workforce in India for the year 2014 was 24.2% of the total workforce while it was 27.6% in the year 1990. (Source: World Bank). Women face different problems in the corporate world. Some of these problems can be enlisted as follows:
 
Safety at the workplace:
 
Safety of women at the workplace is a deterrent to their career and employment. The increasing number of sexual assault and violence at work place fuels the belief of an unsafe environment in the workplace. NASSCOM has taken various measures to enhance awareness on the safety of its women workforce in the IT-BPM industry. The App Fame contest of NASSCOM invites corporate, developers and students to build technology applications for women safety. The President of NASSCOM Mr. Som Mittal, said, “The contribution of women to the growth of our industry has been immense and I must compliment the courage and commitment of our women employees that despite the heightened security concerns.”
The safety guidelines suggested by FICCI and FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) arebroadly categorized under four heads with several recommendations for the safety of women workforce. These four headings are physical, environmental, organizational, and educational.
 
Gender inequality in the workplace:
 
The issue of gender discrimination is prevalent in Indian society and discourages the women workforce. India aims to become the third largest economy by 2030 and it needs 600 million constructive women workforce to fulfil this dream. (Source: Bloomberg). Gender parity can cause the global GDP to increase up to $12 trillion in 2025.
 
Work environment:
 
The friendly work environment improves the work efficiency and boosts their confidence level. The reports reveal women are heading in the financial sector or banking sector due to the congenial work environment. Aviation sector also seems to be friendlier for women. The female pilots of India form 11.7% of world pilots.
 
Lack of training:
 
The supply of trained and skilled workforce is demanding for corporate. The lack of proper training seems to be a roadblock for the growth of their career.
 
EMPOWERING WOMEN IN INDIA:
 
I. Legal provisions:
 
Sexual-harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
 
Sexual-harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 protects the women at their workplace as well as a place of dwelling. The law executes the meaning of aggrieved woman" and workplace as-
 
(i) In relation to a workplace, a woman, of any age whether employed ornot, who alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment by therespondent;
 
(ii) In relation to a dwelling place or house, a woman of any age who isemployed in such a dwelling place or house;
 
As per Sexual-harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 20 13, Workplace means:
 
  • Any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled orwholly or substantially tied by funds provided directly or indirectly by theappropriate Government or the local authority or a Government company or acorporation or a co-operative society;
  • Any private sector organisation or a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmentalorganisation, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational, entertain mental, industrial, health services or financialactivities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service;
  • Hospitals or nursing homes;
  • Any sport institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activitiesrelating thereto:
  • Any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course ofemployment including transportation provided with the employer for undertaking such journey:
  • A dwelling place or a house;
 
Protection under Indian Penal Code, 1860:
 
Various legislations have been formulated to counterfeit the social discrimination and violence against women.
  • Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)
  • Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes ( Sec. 363-373)
  • Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC)
  • Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC)
  • Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)
  • Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)
 
II.Constitutional protection:
 
The Constitution of India empowers women against socio economic, education and political disadvantages faced by them. Articles 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), 39(c) and 42 of the Constitution protect their fundamental rights, ensure equality, and prohibit discrimination.
 
III.Women director under Companies Act, 2013
 
Rule 3 of Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Rules,2014
Rule 3 of Companies (Appointment and qualification of directors) Rules 2014 mandates that the following class of companies shall appoint at least one woman director-
  • every listed company;
  • every other public company having –
    1. paid–up share capital of one hundred crore rupees or more; or
    2. turnover of three hundred crore rupees or more:
Provided that a company, which has been incorporated under the Act and is covered under provisions of the second proviso to sub-section (1) of section 149 shall comply with such provisions within a period of six months from the date of its incorporation:
Provided further that any intermittent vacancy of a woman director shall be filled-up by the Board at the earliest but not later than immediate next Board meeting or three months from the date of such vacancy whichever is Set.

IV.Other initiatives:
 
National Commission for Women
 
National Commission of women was constituted under the provision of National Commission for Women Act, 1990. It aims to protect women and safeguard their rights.
 
Reservation for Women in Local Self -Government
 
The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Acts passed in 1992 by Parliament ensure one-third of the total seats for women in all elected offices in local bodies whether in rural areas or urban areas.
 
The National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991-2000)
 
The plan of Action is to ensure the survival, protection and development of the girl child and to build better future for the girl child.
 
National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001
 
“National Policy for the Empowerment of Women” was prepared by the Department of Women & Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the year 2001. The policy was designed to bring development and empowerment of women.
Other Acts which are helpful to support the right of women are the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and Workmen's compensation Act, 1923
 
Financing schemes for women:
 
Microfinance scheme:
 
Micro Finance schemes came up with the vivid goal of reducing poverty and empowering women. Most of the microfinance institutions (MFIs) prefer women members because the women are more responsible and trustworthy. Microfinance programs like the Self Help Bank Linkage Program, Self Help Group in India have been constructively promoting and empowering women.
 
Sukanya Samridhi scheme was announced by our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 22, 2015, as a part of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. Sukanya Samridhi Yojna pays the interest of 8.6% per annum and other tax benefits on the fund deposited in an Indian Post Office account or commercial bank account for the girl child. It encourages parents to save for the future of the girl child.
 
CONCLUSION:
 
Inadequate safety at the workplace, gender inequality, discordant environment, and dual work load on her shoulder impedes her success in corporate. Hence, corporate and government should take cognizance of the challenges that women face at the workplace. The collective efforts of corporate and government will lead to the robust entrepreneurial network of women and will foster economic growth of our country. The women can be empowered on the grounds of their education, capacity building and skill development, participation development process, the autonomy of work, training, awareness programs, workshops, and finance programs. It will empower India at the global arena starting from the micro level (family level). Empowering women will definitely empower India!
 
“Yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta [chapter 3, verse 56 of Manu smriti]-where women are worshipped, God resides there.
 
References:
 

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