As International Women's Day 2021 that celebrates women from all walks of life approaches, an eye-opening report shows how long the road to equality still is for female employees. LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021 showed that 9 in 10 or 89 per cent of women were negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Highlighting the unequal playing field for women, the damning report said that as many as 85 per cent women in India have missed out on a raise, promotion or other work offers because of their gender. This is significantly higher than the regional average of 60 per cent in Asia Pacific.
The report said that while many women in India have the flexibility of working from home, they face other barriers including lack of time and discrimination for family care. Lack of time is the topmost barrier for working women. One out of two, or 50 per cent, women feel that gender is a barrier when it comes to attaining opportunities. Two in three women have said that they have faced lack of guidance through networks. Seven in 10 working mothers have faced workplace discrimination because of household responsibilities -- 71 per cent feel that familial responsibilities come in the way of their career.
As many as 63 per cent women think a person's gender is important to get ahead in life. Compared to that 54 per cent men think so. Around 22 per cent women in India feel that companies harbour 'favourable bias' towards men, which is significantly higher than the regional average of 16 per cent. Even though 66 per cent of people in India feel that gender disbalance has smoothened out from their parents' age, India's working women still contend strongest gender bias across Asia Pacific.
The report said that 37 per cent women feel they get fewer opportunities and get paid lower than men. Only 25 per cent men agree with fewer opportunities bit, while 21 per cent men agree with lower pay part.
"While job security is critical for working women across India, women are laying more emphasis on the type of employer they choose to work with, the recognition they will receive for the work they do, and on the skills that will be utilised on the job. As per LinkedIn's findings, they are actively seeking employers who treat them as equal (50 per cent), while 56 per cent are looking to get recognition at work for what they do. Organisations should step up to provide robust maternity policies and flexibility programs," stated the report.
The LinkedIn report said that women were disproportionately impacted during COVID-19 pandemic. The expectations to juggle home and work life have wreaked havoc in their lives. "As a result of the barriers faced by women at work, more than 1 in 2 women and working mothers in India expect organisations to offer reduced or part-time schedules (56 per cent) and robust maternity leaves and policies (55 per cent) to make the transition smoother," it said.
"Gender inequality at work and added domestic responsibilities amid the pandemic have collectively made women's jobs more vulnerable at this time. As COVID-19 continues to widen these gaps, this year's LinkedIn Opportunity Index report suggests that it is the need of the hour for organisations to reimagine their diversity practices and offer greater flexibility to caregivers, in order to increase female participation in the workforce. Reduced and flexible schedules, more sabbaticals, and new opportunities to upskill and learn are critical offerings that can help organisations attract, hire, and retain more female talent," says Ruchee Anand, Director, Talent and Learning Solutions, India at LinkedIn.
The LinkedIn Opportunity Index research was conducted by market research firm GfK. The survey included respondents from 18 to 65 year olds. More than 10,000 respondents across the Asia Pacific region, from Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore participated in the online survey. The survey covered 2,285 respondents in India, 1,223 of whom were men and 1,053 were women.
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