Indian woman

How Indian Companies Can Bring Women Back to the Workforce

Job opportunities for women in the Indian workforce have been hard to come by in recent years. According to data from World Bank, women comprised only 20.3% of India’s labor force in 2020 compared to a global average of 38.9%—a startling statistic that highlights the shrinking size of the Indian female workforce.

Further accentuating this worsening trend, female workers have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In a report published by Indian researchers Rosa Abraham, Amit Basole, and Surbhi Kesar, women were seven times more likely to lose work during the nationwide lockdown and 11 times more likely to not return to the workforce. Millions of women were forced to tend to children or ailing family members and, as a result, were unable to keep their jobs.

It’s no wonder that Indian companies have made a concerted effort to promote employment opportunities for women. Organizations across the country are deploying targeted programs to entice females back to the workforce. Here are some of the most successful strategies to provide job opportunities for women.

5 Strategies for Gender Inclusion and Diversity Hiring in India

Reduce requirements of the role

In a report conducted by LinkedIn, women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men and are 16% less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing it. Why? Studies—like the one carried out by Hewlett Packard—show that women don’t apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified for the position. Companies can increase the number of female job applications by cutting down on the excessive requirements found within the job description. Focusing on the skills, abilities, expertise, and prior educational experience that are really necessary for the role before publishing a job can lead to enhanced recruiting results.

Tie diversity goals to executive compensation

An emerging trend in the business world has seen companies tie executive compensation to diversity goals. A study by Mercer unveiled that 15-20% of S&P 500 companies have implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion metrics into their executive incentive plans. Reputable organizations like Wells Fargo, Starbucks, and Uber have publicly highlighted their diversity efforts that are tied to executive pay. By rewarding CEOs and other leaders for attaining certain predetermined gender and diversity thresholds, organizations have witnessed a positive change in the composition of their workforces.

Promote pay equity

Not only is female participation in the workforce a prevailing issue in India, but so too is the widening wage gap. To more effectively recruit female workers for open positions, addressing the pervasive inequalities in compensation between men and women is an important place for companies to start. Studies estimate that men (earning a median gross hourly salary of Rs 242.49) currently earn 19% more than women (earning a median hourly salary of Rs 196.3). In a 2020 report, India was ranked #112 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. Making progress and reversing this trend will require companies to carefully examine (and in some cases, revise) their internal compensation structure while promoting more equal and higher-paying opportunities for women.

Garner executive support

When implementing a large-scale organizational initiative such as this one, companies must be sure to gain support from executive leaders. If senior leadership is on board with a push to prioritize gender diversity in the workforce, it will be easier to get lower-level managers and other employees to buy-in. Ultimately, organizations will have greater success in attracting women to open positions if their executive team is comprised of female leaders. Promoting diversity at the top will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the company.

Market to women-in-break

Due to recent labor market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the declining labor force participation rate among female workers has only been exacerbated. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate for women in February 2021 was 12.39% versus only 6.23% for men. If barriers to female workforce participation were removed, studies show that India could potentially increase its GDP by a whopping 52,151,296,641,278 INR. Creating opportunities for greater numbers of female workers isn’t just a smart business decision; morally, it’s the right thing to do. There are plenty of Indian women-in-break that are looking for work—market to them!

Interested in learning how your organization can improve its hiring reputation? Check out Acara India’s latest E-Book here.

To learn more about Acara India’s success in hiring women-in-break, check out this case study.