Sustaining gender ratio in the workplace
By Sairee Chahal
Sairee Chahal is the founder of SHEROES – a mobile social network for women with over 15 million women as members. She is credited for building up women at work and future-of-work conversations in India, besides building a strong technology play to solve the problems of gender disparity in India. Her areas of interest include Products, Internet, Communities, Future of Work, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Gender, Media and Economies of transition.
The early days of the Covid19 lockdown unleashed an unprecedented amount of chaos in the world. News of health hazards, job losses and recessions, dominated world headlines. As time progressed, more and more was understood about the difficulties faced by women every day, across strata and profiles.
Many of these struggles are universal and unique. The challenges of increased emotional labour, lay-offs, domestic violence, and business struggles, were widely discussed.
But alongside these difficulties, some emerging trends have paved the way for women to grow and improve the quality of their lives. Technology and the Internet are big enablers in these narratives, and this blog looks at the opportunities they bring.
Remote work, the great equaliser
For years, women have worked remotely, but without the respect and dignity that comes with it. But overnight transitions to remote work have brought with it a new understanding of how this mode is an enabler without disrupting the cycle of work.
Several businesses are considering moving large parts of their workforces permanently to remote mode, and women will emerge as beneficiaries as remote work nullifies several of the constraints that stand in the way of career and financial success – geography, unsafe travel, care giving responsibilities.
Now more skilled women, unable to step out for fulltime work can leverage the benefits of remote work, and grow their professional identity and fiscal independence.
Over the last three years, SHEROES has invested in Managed Remote Solutions (MARS), a “workforce on cloud” comprising exclusively of skilled women working remotely. This workforce, trained and certified by SHEROES, exclusively works remotely, is highly accountable in their work, and delivers excellence, every day.
Shifts in remote work, have galvanised businesses to seriously consider unique services like MARS, which deliver skill sets like “empathy mindset”, in demand in sectors like eldercare and health, yet, are difficult to find in existing workforces.
Women’s Internet, a massive enabler
By 2022, we are expecting 350 million women to come online, and the Internet must be prepared for this influx by becoming more constructive, safe and high trust for women Internet users.
The lockdown is almost like a dress rehearsal with women actively leveraging the internet to solve a host of immediate challenges – lack of access to health and medical care, reporting domestic abuse, seeking counselling, online coaching, and leveraging online spaces to create visibility for their businesses and voice.
SHEROES is constantly visualising for women’s needs, and this will turn the tide on how useful and supportive the Internet is for women internet users with a cross-section of needs and goals.
Birth of a million micro-entrepreneurs
With more and more jobs lost forever, the scenario is forcing women to think entrepreneurially, a mind-set that comes naturally to them. Gender biases faced by women have turned them into natural hustlers, and they are leveraging the internet to reinvent and turn into micro-entrepreneurs.
For instance, we’re seeing a growing number of women with skill sets like fitness instruction, food knowledge, content creation, marketing and tutoring, tweaking their offerings to now deliver services online.
Women entrepreneurs are also rising to new challenges borne out of the lockdown – lack of access to menstrual products and PPE products, gaps in education, mental health challenges, as well as health care in general, and launching new businesses or innovating existing businesses to meet the gaps.
SHECO, our social commerce business has connected the dots well between social commerce, women entrepreneurs and brands, and women are growing their identities as business women. They show up every day for training, and use it as a platform for learning and self-growth, and to increase their bottom-line.
Women hungry for upskilling
Global shifts in the job market across sectors as well as business have had a major impact on women.
Job losses and consequent financial difficulties, have pushed women to think long-term and build foundations for the future via upskilling themselves.
The type of skills varies – from specific in-demand domain skills and soft skills, to English language skills, financial literacy, to investing in how to improve personal branding.
Despite having less autonomy on their time, women are starting to prioritise upskilling, as a way to insulate themselves from future calamities.
On the SHEROES app, our expert Champions host at least two live ask-me-anything sessions everyday on a wide spectrum of topics.
We have partnered with Champion Woman to do exclusively curated workshops to support women in their quest for a stress-free, fulfilling life.
We have also co-hosted bootcamps around DIY skills like canva with phenomenal organisations like Girls x Tech Foundation, and the responses to all these opportunities are overwhelming.
It is not just professional or corporate women who are investing in upskilling – we see interest from entrepreneurs, students, homemakers, gig workers, consultants, senior women, too.
Leveraging the Internet for such constructive activities has been a phenomenal shift, and there is a spurt in hunger for self-growth, self-discovery, self-investment and growing a learning mind-set.
Women finding their tribes in online communities
As I mentioned, many of our struggles are universal no matter which part of the world we live in and there is a quest in women to find their own “me spaces” online, outside of their existing networks of friends, family ties and work circles.
They seek alternate spaces where authentic connections are possible based on shared vibes, values and interests. Such spaces enable authentic conversations and the expression of vulnerability. They encourage women to shed the veil of conformity expected in existing circles.
They work as venting spaces, where issues can be discussed, and humour, expression, creativity and milestones can be celebrated. They are spaces where appreciation and recognition are possible, without abuse, judgement and negativity.
Women-only online communities have showed up as the winners in this category, and the impact of such spaces can be directly mapped to how women “feel” about themselves, their happiness, their stress levels, well-being and overall sense of identity.