Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Women in Indian business

Nasscom in conjunction with Mercer Consulting has published a report on Gender Inclusivity in India. According to press reports on this study, India has more working women than any other country in the world. 30% -35% of the overall 400 million workforce is women.

Nasscom sites (www.nasscom.org) has a link to the report. Click (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshowpics/4524928.cms) for a press report on the study. There are some blithe conclusions that the IT and BPO industry are responsible for the high proportion of women in the workforce in some way.

I haven’t read the original report (I am not paying $60 for this), but I am reacting to the press reports.

Balderdash. Indian corporate world is a male chauvinist pig. Period.

I’ve worked in a number of places. Nowhere have I seen a more women unfriendly business environment than in India, although things are changing

* Any employee is considered worth his salt only if he slogs like a maniac. Its often said that the office begins only after closing time. Men are stupid enough to be willing to slog meaninglessly. Women have more sense and balance. So they aren’t “good workers”

* Career breaks are considered sacrilege in India. You are expected to commence work when you are out of the cradle and toil ceaselessly at the office till your grave beckons. When the child comes, women are forced to step off – and its difficult to get in again

* Working part time or from home is considered “not working”. How is a woman with a child then expected to work, especially since our precious husband believes that lifting a finger to raise a child is beneath his manhood.

* You are expected to be mobile across the country, and increasingly the world. So, if a husband gets moved to another place, guess what happens to the wife ?

* The working environment is many corporates is all aggro. Testosterone flows like water. Either a woman has to inject testosterone into herself or else sit in the background.

Sure this is a one sided rant and I am exaggerating to make a point. But I could not believe the report of this study. I simply cannot believe that India is anywhere near being a women friendly workplace – it cannot be the largest employer of women by a long stretch even including agricultural labour, construction workers etc.

And the IT/BPO industry is no saint. Yes, its better than other sectors, but its nowhere near world class in employing women. I was in a BPO in India. Try as we might, the proportion of women did not cross 30%. I then was in a BPO in China. The proportion of men did not cross 30%.

By the way, the press report is telling in a way. The words are about India. The photos are all Chinese !


aparna said...

Ohh i so agree to Point 2, sadly its the case here as well.. somehow i feel in India, i still would have stood a chance of getting back to work..

point 4- package deal..

aparna said...

saw the snaps after i read the post and commented- hilarious

le embrouille blogueur said...

True for all points Ramesh.And above all this is the sneer which men shower any time any woman is better than them...their excuse- "she is really not that great.It is her Manager (who is a woman)is biased". What do you do about the way "men" think?

Emma said...

Hi Ramesh. How have you been doing?

I couldn't have agreed more, now that I compare the working conditions here with back home. Myself planning to take a career break...but do not know how easy or difficult the getting back to work will be.

Kapil said...

Now I know why my part of organisation works so well. I am the lucky one with more than 45% of the floor and about 40% teamleaders women. :) Jokes apart its a challenge and one has to be superwomen in India to manage family, home, jealous colleagues and I wont touch upon how most Indian men behave with women...Kapil

rads said...

I so agree with you and mayb the article had a typo (it should be "China" in place of "India") n dint go through the editing phase before publishing. Times are definitely changing in India but not to the extent portrayed by indiatimes.

Preeti Shenoy said...

I stand up and applaud you for the honesty in this post.Not many will say so openly even if they know it is true.

Ramesh said...

Finally got around to being able to post a comment on my own blog.

@ Aparna - you'll always get back. If not corporate; journalism, given how well your write.

@blogueur - Unable to comment on your site, but your post on the radio was your best ever. I had the box, even before transistors came - the old valve radio. Binaca Geet mala, Jaimala (the ones for the fauji), Bournvita quiz contest, Horlicks Suchitra's family, 9 'o clock news ....

@emma - welcome back. E mailed you separately

@kapil - it works well because you're the boss. You are one of the most woman friendly manager I have ever known

@rads - can't post on your blog too. The fractal art was very nice. Just for cheek - Is that semiya upma ?!! Don't bash me ...

@ Preeti - Thanks. As always you are very kind.

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