Hiver, a Gmail-based customer service solution, hosted an industry discussion with a panel of four highly-prolific women leaders from different realms of expertise in the startup ecosystem. The discussion, held to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, brought out some great insights on the challenges in diversity hiring, and how companies and leaders can build a more gender-balanced workplace today.
According to LinkedIn’s Opportunity Index 2021, 85 percent of working women have missed out on a raise, promotion or work offer because of their gender. The report also highlights that India’s working women still contend the strongest gender bias across Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries, with one in five working women expressing that companies exhibit a ‘favourable bias’ towards men at work.
To understand more about how women leaders in India are campaigning to bridge this gender divide, and to make workplaces more diverse and inclusive, Hiver organised a webinar titled ‘First-hand experiences in Building A Gender-Balanced Workplace’, on the 5th of March.
Moderated by Mohita Nagpal, VP Marketing at Hiver the webinar’s panel included Sunita Mohanty – Trust & Safety Director at Google & Investor at Xoogler Angels; Priya Mohan – Startup Sensei at Venture Highway; Ruchira Gokhale – Head of Consulting Solutions at Interweave; and Ratna Joshi – Head of Learning & Development for Mahindra & Mahindra.
Introducing the topic, the panelists spoke about what diversity means to them, and how organisations today are hiring for diversity. Priya Mohan of Venture Highway, a Founder turned VC, said, “In hiring, diversity is often looked at from the perspective of fulfilling a quota, and it isn’t that. It’s important to democratize the opportunity but not lower the bar.” She also pointed out the privilege associated with diversity hiring – “Startups and VCs being young organisations have the opportunity to build a culture of diversity from the beginning. It comes at a significant cost that not all organisations have the privilege to bear.”
Sunita Mohanty – Trust & Safety Director, Google believes that one of the greatest challenges in diversity hiring right now is the fact that it doesn’t immediately reflect on the ROI – “Diversity and inclusion are so much beyond numbers. However, most business leaders’ strategy decisions are hugely number-driven.”
The discussion also touched upon the impact the pandemic had on gender-divide at workplaces. According to Ruchira Gokhale – Head of Consulting Solutions, Interweave, “Global data reveals that women are almost twice as vulnerable to job losses as compared to men during the pandemic. But, in India, women were almost 7 times more vulnerable in layoffs during the pandemic.” She recounted how one of her client organisations had to scrap a lot of non-core roles because of the pandemic, and how women employees were in a majority of those roles. “Upskillsing women for re-employment is now going to be key,” she suggested.
Apart from the roles that organisations have to play in creating gender-balanced and inclusive workplaces, the panelists discussed the importance of women empowering themselves as well.
According to Ratna Joshi – Head Learning & Development for Mahindra & Mahindra, it’s important for women to understand their own boundaries and ambitions. “Organisations and women, both have to come together. No organisation can support you if you don’t have your vision and ambition clearly defined,” she said.
Before concluding the session, panelists also brought to light how unconscious bias and microaggressions at workplaces can reinforce certain stereotypes against women. The panelists added that it’s important for men to become allies and help champion the cause of gender-diversity in their own way.
Hiver is a Gmail-based customer service solution that helps teams across the organization collaborate on shared inboxes like services@, orders@, support@.