Shining the spotlight on the Changemakers of India: Five Successful Years of BCWI

Article by Athira Premarajan

The business case of ‘Why Diversity Matters’ in the VUCA markets we operate in was established by McKinsey Global in one of its most exhaustive research reports released on 01 January 2015. Multiple such research studies prompted organizations worldwide to accelerate their pursuit of diversity and align it emphatically to their business goals. Avtar, in over two decades of its existence, has been advocating for the cause of gender parity within workplaces, and over the last decade or so, we see the focus getting deeper, granular. In 2016, Avtar associated with Working Mother Media – a global champion advocating gender parity, holding a legacy of over 30 years – to launch the first-ever recorded gender analytics exercise for corporate India, titled the Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) study. In its first global expansion outside the US, the study helped organizations keen on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to keep a tab on the most important diversity metrics there are and benchmark themselves against the market momentum.

Igniting a new wave within the boundaries of Corporate India, BCWI spearheaded and witnessed revolutionary changes that have significantly impacted women’s representation in workplaces. Even while navigating through the tougher times of the pandemic, the priority focus of the BCWI frontrunners was to rise to the fullest potential, leveraging the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As such, a look back at the five-year snapshot of the index establishes exhilarating data that the country has been looking forward to.

  • Quoting the growth map of women in leadership, it is heartening to note an increase in women’s representation in managerial positions from 19% in 2016 to 23% in 2020.
  • A striking growth indeed, the representation among the board of directors captures a better frame where the improvement is substantial, that is, from 15% to 27% in the same time frame.

Thus, acting as a catalyst force among the many other stakeholders like the government, NGOs, etc., to bring about gender parity, BCWI has achieved a significant triumph in impacting gender inclusion in India. Women in leadership is now an emerging and evolving trend that the companies are leveraging and relying on for the proven records of success stories established. In its five years of successful running, BCWI has helped evolve policies, practices and eventually people and workplaces towards greater gender parity, collecting granular statistics beyond representation to analysing one of the priority areas of building a gender-balanced leadership pipeline. What is impressive to look at is the collective effort of these companies towards the sturdy goal of achieving parity.  And, exemplifying the benchmarks of these frontrunners, BCWI continues to inspire several new-age businesses in India.

If we look at the most recent statistics pertaining to gender parity in India, we see that due to the pandemic and the other existing barriers, India has fallen 40 spots down to the 140th position in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 established by the World Economic Forum. Towards challenging this status quo and changing the narrative, the contribution of corporate India will be critical. And by setting benchmarks for the future champions, the BCWI study establishes a very important yardstick crucial for inclusive economic recovery and growth. It may be noted that during the last five years, women’s representation in the 100 Best Companies for Women in India has been steadily growing, from 25% in 2016 to 34% in 2020.

As we move towards the critical and non-negotiable age of automation and digitization, which is predicted to affect adversely the jobs of 1.2 Crore Indian women by 2030, securing the plug against talent drain, especially the protection of female Labour Force Participation, is essential to overcome the prevailing and future social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. As corporate leaders invested in ensuring business prosperity, let us pledge to stay focussed on a definite win-win, that of making our workplaces inclusive of women. We look forward to the platform of BCWI growing and raising the bars every single year, and we believe gender parity is not two centuries away!

To know more about and to register for the 2021 Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women in India study, click here:

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