Welcome to CSR Dialogues from TeamLease Education Foundation, where industry leaders come together to discuss relevant progressive topics around the social development sector including Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR). For a recent session, we invited Kishore Kumar Thangavelu, Corporate Social Responsibility - Philanthropies India at Microsoft, for an interactive one-on-one conversation with Mr Joel Fernandez, Lead - Partnerships, TeamLease Education Foundation.
India's workforce participation rate, especially among women workers, has only decreased in the last few years, which is a matter of concern for Corporate Social Responsibility. There has been a steady decline in the women's workforce participating in various sectors. For example, in India, we have a majority of the women workforce in agriculture, and in allied sectors related to agriculture or grey collar jobs. And then people who are on the very core jobs or the critical latest technology jobs IT jobs are limited and minimal. Because the higher people go in the jobs, the more parity comes in the pay.
The job sectors where payment is on par are skewed in India. And the sector where they are given a parity salary, the workforce participation is still at a very minimal and low level. And a lot of people lost jobs during the pandemic and even after people who lost their jobs after COVID, went back and then joined the jobs, the majority of the women workforce did not go back to their jobs due to multiple reasons, which is again a matter of concern for Corporate Social Responsibility. So this can also be attributed to the reason for the decline in the last two years.
From farm to the formalized workforce
One aspect that Microsoft as a digital organization that works in IT and technology, believe in is not bringing women from rural to the urban sector. But actual increase their productivity by giving them necessary components, tools, skills, solutions, and access, which in return can help make them earn more than what would have they been earning in the same job. For example, Microsoft is into digital products like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and everything, which kind of helps women in increasing their bookkeeping and gets them access to tools such to understand multiple things the easy way. Because the majority of the women from the rural sector find it very challenging to move from one sector to another sector and will definitely hit the backbone of the economy as well. So it will be more around not changing sectors for them, but producing or providing solutions, tools and technologies that can help improve their day-to-day earnings and day-to-day profit.
Bringing women back into the mainstream workforce
For the urban sector, corporates should try to help women who took a break or were not in the workforce for some time to be enabled with alternate career opportunities in the emerging sectors. For example, Data Privacy in Microsoft is a critical career. People working in some other job profile like sales, or accounting can be made aware that these are the four or five alternate careers which are demanding lots of jobs. Also, providing the flexible nature of work like work from home, etc. Enabling an alternate career or letting women know about the alternate courses which are in demand currently, and training people on those can create ample opportunities for women.
Gender inclusivity in the workplace
Diversity inclusion should not be defined as an additional program and then kind of be delivered. Moreover, it should be the DNA of the organization, first practised internally by everyone in the organization. It should be assigned as a critical goal for each and every employee in the organization to adhere to because many times we ourselves are unconsciously creating unwanted biases. So the root cause of differentiation should be removed
Start from basic steps like providing a platform for people to ask questions and exchange thoughts. It is seen that workplaces that practice inclusion in all aspects perform better business in the long run.
If you like this conversation between two industry leaders,