International Women’s Day 2023: Entrepreneurs on gender equality at workplaces

True empowerment in the workplace comes when women are trusted to lead and make important decisions at the table.

   
International Women's Day 2023

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day 2023, the focus is on innovation and technology as key drivers of gender equality. With each passing year, women have continued to shatter glass ceilings, break barriers, and achieve remarkable feats in different fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Despite this progress, however, gender disparities still exist in many areas, including the technology sector. This year’s Women’s Day theme, “Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” seeks to highlight the role of technology in advancing women’s rights and breaking down the gender divide.

From coding boot camps to digital literacy programs and online entrepreneurship, women across the globe are tapping into technology to transform their lives and bridge the gender gap.

Also, it’s important to acknowledge the role that men play in the fight for gender equality. While women have been at the forefront of this struggle, it’s crucial for men to be vocal allies and advocates for women’s rights.

Men have a crucial role to play in the fight for gender equality, but they must do so with humility, sensitivity, and a willingness to learn and listen. They can use Women’s Day as an opportunity to reflect, support, and amplify the voices of women, rather than taking centre stage themselves. By doing so, they can contribute to a more equitable and just world for all genders.

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SME Futures interacted with men and women to understand the importance and ways in which they are highlighting the need for continued investment in initiatives that promote gender equality through technology.

Devyani Jaipuria, Chairperson of Dharav High School, and DPS International Gurugram, shares, “As an entrepreneur, I faced challenges that were not typical. Initially, my primary challenges were related to hiring the right people, selecting the best leaders, and training my team for growth.”

“My message to all women out there is to listen to your heart. We often have the desire to pursue our dreams, but fear holds us back. Even if we take the first step, continuing to take the second and third steps can be challenging. The ultimate goal should be to create a business that adds value to society, brings about necessary changes, solves problems, and creates a supportive ecosystem for all women entrepreneurs,” she added.

Talking about how to be a successful entrepreneur, Shaily Mehrotra, CEO and Founder of Fixderma says, “Being an entrepreneur also requires the practice of delegation of responsibility. One might try to look at every aspect but this is not humanly efficient and productive.”

“Therefore, my advice to women entrepreneurs is to delegate the right set of responsibilities with apt resources and focus your attention strategically on decision-making areas instead of just operations. Multitasking is always our strength but it is always good to share responsibilities with your team, Mehrotra added.

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Highlighting the need for gender equality at workplaces, Anup Jain, Managing Partner of Orios Venture Partners says, “We must recognise that their representation in boardrooms and companies, in general, is rising and needs to be further encouraged in the coming years.”

“As we seek more and more compliance to a better planet, ESG and challenges like climate change, I see a greater role for women leaders in tomorrow’s roles, He further adds.

Weighing in, “Having women leaders brings a unique perspective to decision-making processes and workplace policies. Women in roles of power have repeatedly been proven to improve the overall performance of organisations,” says Co-founder of BlackSoil Capital, Ankur Bansal.

“Apart from this, they also inspire future generations of women by serving as role models to become part of the workforce which is the need of the hour,” Bansal added.

Speaking of the women’s contribution in MSMEs and about the support they need, Arun Nayyar, CEO at NeoGrowth Credit, says “Our MSME Business Confidence Study 2023 revealed that around 80 per cent of women MSME owners expect to opt for a business loan in 2023. It is crucial that we support and empower these women entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and timely credit to ensure their continued success.”

“We must continue to strive towards creating an enabling environment that supports and promotes women-led MSMEs, through a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including policymakers, financial institutions, and society at large. Together, we can build a more equitable and prosperous future for all.”

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Lastly, “Empowering more women to join the workforce has made great strides in the past decade. Calls for greater equality at the workplace, bridging pay gaps, better maternity support etc. have made companies evolve, their cultures shift and their female population thrive. While we acknowledge that, it’s also important to see where there’s a lot more augmentation required – the fundamental lack of women in leadership roles,” says Monica Kapadia, VP of Leap Scholar.

A 2020 report revealed that only 14% of senior management roles in India were held by women, and the barriers and preconceptions that hold women back remain largely unchanged.

“The only way to address this is to have more women in positions of leadership; providing the support and role models women desperately need to advance in their careers, and bringing about much-needed changes in the workplace benefitting both genders. True empowerment in the workplace comes when women are trusted to lead and make important decisions at the table,” Monica concluded.

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