Study on Empowerment of Women in the Workplace in India

Understanding the Levels of Empowerment of Women in the Workplace in India

A recently released study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) revealed that women constitute only a very small percent of the employment force in companies. Only six per cent of the total number of employees working in medium and large scale industries constitute women, with 18 per cent in medium and four per cent in large companies, according to the study entitled Understanding the Levels of Women Empowerment in the Workplace, released on December 14, 2005.

The incidence of women employed at managerial levels of companies was only 16 per cent at junior levels, 4 per cent each at the middle and senior levels, and almost nil in organisational leadership positions.

The study included 149 Indian companies with a turnover of over Rs 30 crore (approx €5 million) and interviews with 59 women in the manufacturing sector.

The study was undertaken to understand human resource (HR) practices and benefits given to female employees and examine the barriers faced by women at various levels of an organisation.

The study notes that “the attrition rate of women in larger companies was higher and in managerial positions the ratio of women dwindled further”. According to Ms Anu Aga, CEO of Thermax Limited and also the chairman of the CII's National Committee on Women Empowerment, “Gender bias in recruitment, gender inequality and sexual harassment at work place are the major issues affecting women as is evident from the study which quoted that 25 per cent women faced gender bias on jobs”.

She further added that according to the study, 56 per cent of the companies that were surveyed did not have any formal policies in place to counter sexual harassment.

According to Ms Rumjhum Chatterjee, Managing Director of Feedback Ventures (P) Limited, there exists a general perception that women “cannot manage” or are “not competent” enough to handle managerial posts. She pointed out that women were “job-hoppers” due to various reasons, primarily pertaining to family and children. Ms Chatterjee stressed that “there has to be a change in recruitment policies and women should be provided better medical facilities at work, and also day care/childcare facilities, provision of flexible timings and adequate maternity leave.”

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