Eighty-five percent working women in India believe they missed out on a raise and promotion because of their gender, as per a report by LinkedIn. While sharing their reasons for being unhappy with opportunities to advance in their careers, 1 in 5 (20 per cent) said that their companies exhibit a ‘favourable bias’ towards men at work.
Though 66 per cent of professionals believe that gender equality has improved in India, working women still face the strongest gender bias across Asia-Pacific countries.
Ahead of the International Women’s Day 2021, LinkedIn released the Opportunity Index 2021 report, a composite measure that seeks to understand how people perceive opportunities and the barriers that stand in the way of achieving them.
The report further revealed the difference in perception of available opportunities in the market for both genders. As many as 37 per cent of India’s working women claimed to have received fewer opportunities than men due to gender, only 25 per cent of men agree with this. “This disparity in perception is also seen in conversations about equal pay, as more women (37 per cent) say they get less pay than men, while only 21 per cent men share this sentiment,” it added.
Overall, the top three job opportunities sought by professionals in India are job security, a job that they love, and a good work-life balance. However, despite having similar goals in life, more women (63 per cent) think a person’s gender is important to get ahead in life when compared to men (54 per cent).
Meanwhile, household responsibilities are another hurdle. More than 7 in 10 working women (71 per cent) and working mothers (77 per cent) feel that managing familial responsibilities often come in their way of career development. Apart from this, 63 per cent of working women and 69 per cent of working mothers said they have faced discrimination at work because of familial and household responsibilities.
Impact of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has posed further challenges with 9 in 10 women stating that they were negatively impacted by the pandemic. “Women have been disproportionately impacted amid Covid-19, and the expectations to juggle home and work life have wreaked havoc in their lives,” the report said.
“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 added.
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Not just telecommuting or Work-From-Home has also been appreciated by women across the workforce in India during the pandemic, it is also the top-ranking demand for women in the workforce today, along with other flexibility programs, the report revealed.
Treat them equal
The report further reveals that working women give more importance to the type of employer that they choose to work with. The recognition they will receive for the work they do, and the skills that will be utilised on the job are some critical factors.
As per LinkedIn’s findings, women 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.
More than 1 in 2 women are also looking for more professional connections and mentors who can help them advance their careers, as 65 per cent of women agree that lack of guidance through networks is a key opportunity barrier.
“Lack of required professional skills and a lack of guidance through networks and connections are also some of the other barriers that get in the way of career development for working women in India,” the report 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 organizations attract, hire, and retain more female talent,” says Ruchee Anand, director, Talent and Learning Solutions, India at LinkedIn.
Upskilling is the need of the hour
The LinkedIn report also provides a perspective on the impact of the “ailing economy and working in isolation” on the Indian workforce.
Around 86 per cent of Indians state that they were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Overall, 9 in 10 Indians faced pay-cuts, job losses, and reduced work hours due to Covid-19. “In addition to shrinking opportunities, professionals in India also battle the perils of working in isolation, as over 3 in 5 (65 per cent) Indians cited lower productivity while working from home,” the report said.
“Further analysis shows that too many distractions, interrupted internet connectivity and difficulty in planning work are the top most setbacks faced by professionals in India when working remotely,” it added.
Professionals are turning to upskilling and choosing new career paths to remain resilient. Two in three (65 per cent) professionals expect the economy to improve by June 2021. About 3 in 5 (57 per cent) Indians are actively looking to learn new hard skills such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, and Business Analytics, and soft skills such as Creative Thinking, Problem Solving, and Time Management. While 1 in 2 (51 per cent) professionals are looking to shift to new career paths, and 3 in 5 (61 per cent) are pursuing roles that allow them to use their skills.
To help working women, LinkedIn has come up with five learning courses that are available for free till March 31, 2021. These include Leadership Strategies for Women, Planning Your Family Leave and Return, Proven Success Strategies for Women at Work, Own It: The Power of Women at Work and Becoming a Male Ally at Work.
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