Is Covid19 the key derailer of women’s careers?

COVID 19 and Women's Career

Covid-19 has certainly shaken the world economy. But, given the factors impacting labour market in India, the pandemic is only 1 of the many career derailers affecting women in the workforce. Let us explore a key factor – #skilldifferentials in the Indian workforce. A thread.

To bridge the gaps towards greater parity and inclusion, it is critical to understand the dynamics of women in India’s workforce and the challenges therewith. It appears that there is a triage at play : 1) Govt policies, 2) Employer’s focus and 3) The woman’s own employability

Marginalization in the labour market is highly likely to be affecting lower-skilled employees. And, in a country like India, where women’s workforce participation is comparatively low, the likeliness of women being the vulnerable category is very high.

Large no of women are employed in hospitality, leisure, aviation, travel, retail – those hit hardest by #Covid19. These sectors, typically, employ women in lower wage categories. Women also hold temporary/part-time/freelance roles – jobs usually the first ones to get axed.

Reports say that up to 12 Million Indian women will be unemployed by 2030, as a result of automation. While the shifting landscape of job roles lays out possibilities for new jobs, who bells the cat? Who is responsible to tackle this? It is 3 – the woman, the govt & the employer

Let’s take the woman’s efforts. A World Bank study says nearly 20 mn Indian women quit jobs in last decade. Around 65-70 percent of women quit never return. The study also showed that while the obstacles to restart careers are many outdated skills is one of the biggest(24%)

During most of @avtarinc‘s interactions with women, it is found that women do not invest as much intentionally in careers as men, including in up-skilling. This makes their careers more prone to risks, specifically in VUCA times.

‘Future of Jobs’ survey by World Economic Forum shows a significant barrier to gender parity was lack of qualified incoming talent, with women concentrated in low-skill roles. This impacts career progress & in the face of crises, women’s careers tend to be under the line of fire.

Thus – the answer to what can women do to remain relevant and employed during this crisis? 1) Build your skills, 2) Demonstrate Career Intentionality – build connections, learn communication, strategic thinking and have a sales focus.

What can the Govt of India do? Skilling on a war footing is the need of the hour. Training programs delivered virtually, which prepare women for future jobs is the solution to overcome the bleeding workforce participation rates of women. What about corporates? A crucial contribution is required from employers.  Avtar, in association with Working Mother (a celebrated gender parity champion of the US), conducts India’s largest gender analytics exercise – Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI).

And guess what makes a Best Company for Women Professionals in India? Among the many prominent factors that establish the characteristics of best companies, a crucial factor we assess is the re-skilling, up-skilling and counselling of women to pursue sustainable career paths. Spoiler Alert!

Discerning organizations are recognizing the compelling truth that equitable career enablers (for both men and women) are no longer perceived as indulgent benevolence, but as critical sustainability efforts. (Have you applied for the #BCWI2020? Check out avtarinc.com)

Covid or not, India will witness major transition in the next 10 yrs. Close to 11 mn women will need to move to new roles/domains by 2030. Women need to be keenly aware of the rapid technological changes & consciously upskill themselves in order to progress in their careers.

And if the coming together of all these 3 efforts – 1) the Career Intentional Woman, 2) Focused Skilling policies by the Govt and 3) The discerning corporate who places importance on equitable growth – happens successfully, then Covid or not, India will gain!


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