Indian business leaders on International Women’s Day 2023

Gurmukh Roopra

Gurmukh Roopra, CEO, Namdhari’s Group

“Women play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing. Women in rural India make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience. Achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is essential in uplifting rural livelihoods. Giving women the same opportunities as men could raise agricultural production by 2.5% to 4% and reduce the number of malnourished people by 12% to 17%. Namdhari’s is committed to empowering women in agriculture. We currently have around 500 rural women across multiple entities, who form the backbone of many of our farming ventures. We provide each of them with at least one nutritious filled free meal, healthcare with an in-house clinic and other statutory benefits amongst other facilities. Most importantly, we feel that they are integral members at the heart of our family. Achieving gender equity in rural areas is especially challenging and agribusinesses can do their part by empowering the rural women who work for them.”

Sujendra GS

Sujendra GS, VP, Human Resources, Creative Synergies Group

“What counts as equity? In a workplace, do women have the same opportunities to rise up as men? Will giving them equal opportunities without considering their needs count as equity? Not in most cases. The first step to embracing equity comes from recognizing the fact that differences exist.

Post pandemic, as we slowly transition from remote work to hybrid work model, organizations need to uniquely support women – especially mothers and caregivers who are juggling multiple roles in their workday. Their outside obligations are different than some of their male co-workers and they need to be given the flexibility and support to get their work accomplished without looking at quitting as their only solution. Businesses thrive in their DE&I initiatives when they make efforts to provide a level playing ground to their employees, despite the differences.

With the ongoing economic uncertainties, the demand-supply gap in India has increased, with a supply rate of 21%, which is the lowest among top tech locations such as the US, China and UK. However, there is a large untapped resource that can help companies address the skill gap: women. This is an opportunity for Indian businesses to reassess their investment in skill development, equip women within the organization with high-demand skills, and
look into hiring more skilled women professionals. A recent report from Skillsoft found that more than work-life balance, and other organizational incentives, 52% of women in IT value learning and development. Empowering them with equitable opportunities can allow decision makers to redress the balance, and wholeheartedly embrace equity.

We, at Creative believe that upskilling during a break is a great way to learn and stay relevant. Our Sabbatical policy is specifically designed to ensure that “Creative” women can utilize the break to reskill/upskill themselves. Creative also has policies in place for reimbursement of professional career development costs. We are exploring newer initiatives to renew our commitment to “Creative” women in a more concrete and meaningful way.”

Meghna Agarwal

Meghna Agarwal, Serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of IndiQube

“Digital empowerment today is not a question of ‘whether’ but a question of ‘how soon’. Technology and Innovation are the main pillars for economic progress in the modern world and women need to embrace this shifted focus in order to make substantial contributions to the economy. This will equip them with the innate ability to seize new possibilities and ascend the ladder of success in the near future. Women in the workforce who are digitally empowered can influence the hardware, software, and other layers of applications in commercial real estate, paving the path for the development of an ecosystem of smart buildings.

In the world of technology, very few women hold positions of high leadership. While it is true that women are adept at handling functional positions, there is a common misconception that they are less skilled at handling core technical roles. Along with developing their technological skills, women today must fight this stereotype and establish themselves as being capable of managing diverse resources including tech architects, coders, developers, and UI specialists, among others. This will enable women to become sector and industry agnostic, and pave the way for a generation of women to venture into unconventional sectors alongside fostering an ecosystem of mentors for future generations of women. A digitally empowered woman workforce can thus have an immense impact on any industry and even more so in commercial real estate.”

Subhashini Ponnappa

Subhashini Ponnappa, Head HR & Administration, 75F, APAC region

“Women are important societal pillars that are crucial in paving the way for constructive change. Despite facing significant barriers, they have been making incredible strides in the fields of science and technology and other unconventional sectors.

Even though women have begun challenging the status quo by entering the otherwise male dominated industries, the percentage of women assuming leadership positions, especially in fields like IT, is very small. According to Entelo’s “Quantifying the Gender Gap” report, women hold just 10% of executive roles and 16% of high-level IT employment. However, as time progresses, women are seen to continue their unwavering pursuit of gender equality through their sheer grit and resilience.

We, at 75F, firmly believe that women are one of the crucial building blocks of all our big achievements. At 75F, we endeavour to include as many women as possible and ensure enhancing their skills in developing a culture that accords them respect and equal opportunities to progress in their professional lives. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate their outstanding accomplishments across the world and in our industry”.

Dr. Deeksha Sikri

Dr. Deeksha Sikri, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathophysiology at St. George’s University

“It’s very heartening to see women today breaking stereotypes by choosing branches based on their interests. Women are currently occupying top decision-making positions in healthcare and medical institutes. Moreover, I am pleased to see that more chances are being created to equip women with both the skills for a successful career and the opportunities to pursue what interests them. It’s a reflection of how far we’ve come – women in medicine are a reflection of how women in society are changing”.

Manjari Sharma

Manjari Sharma, Co-Founder and CPO, FreightFox

“ Well informed customers and their evolving choices are making logistics and supply chains complex and ripe for digital innovations. The logistics today is one of linking pins to the customer delight and half of or more customers today are women. If we are working constantly to achieve that delight, the same representation must also be there in the domain of logistics and supply chain. Over the years this domain has been operational and field heavy and hence looked at Gentlemen’s club, having said that the complexity and competition compelled the intersection of this industry with technology and digital transformation where the gender diversity dividend can unearth immense untapped potential. We at FreightFox truly believe in this and our endeavour is to innovate and deliver augmented logistics capabilities for the manufacturing industry driven by passion, diversity and inclusion.

At present, the logistics industry is undergoing significant transformation, with the rise of automation, artificial intelligence, and other technological advancements. We are also seeing more women being employed in leadership positions as their detail-oriented and collaborative approach helps to identify and solve problems more efficiently. However, women are often underrepresented in the industry, and there is a growing concern about the digital divide that exists between men and women in logistics. Addressing this digital divide in logistics is crucial for promoting gender equality and creating a more inclusive and innovative industry. Women bring unique skills and perspectives to logistics, and by empowering them with the digital tools and resources they need, we can unlock their full potential.

On this Women’s Day, we’d like to appreciate the efforts of women who often go unnoticed. By empowering and supporting women in manufacturing and logistics, we can build a more resilient, innovative, and equitable industry that benefits everyone.”

Sara Varughese

Dr. Sara Varughese, Managing Trustee, CBM India

“Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we are reminded that women still face significant barriers to achieving true equality. Women still lack financial autonomy and have limited access to healthcare and disability support. At CBM India Trust, our mission is to champion the voices of the underprivileged, and we believe empowering women is key to achieving that goal.

Through our work with state governments and the private sector, we have established women-led co-ops that provide gainful employment to rural women, helping to bridge the gender gap in the workforce. We also place special emphasis on our disability aid programs to ensure that women with disabilities receive the support they need. Additionally, we are committed to placing women in key leadership and supervisory positions to promote gender equality in all aspects of our work.

On this Women’s Day, we want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of rural business owners, educators, caregivers, and homemakers who work selflessly for the benefit of others. Their contributions often go unnoticed but are critical to building a more inclusive society. We believe that development is sustainable only when it is inclusive, and we are committed to ensuring that women everywhere have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. By breaking down systemic barriers and promoting women’s leadership, we can create a more just and equitable society for all.”

Shalini V Nair

Shalini V Nair- Co-Founder and Board Director, Ennoventure Inc

‘’IT and science have been male-dominated fields for decades, excluding women from opportunities and progress. However, we at Ennoventure Inc are proud to be part of a growing number of women-led tech businesses in India. Although the percentage of women in IT in India is relatively high at 36%, there is still a long way to go to change perceptions about women’s ability to handle math and computers.

At Ennoventure Inc, we are committed to bringing more diverse talent into skill-intensive and leadership roles. We offer special skill-building programs for our women employees and spread awareness about careers in tech. It is crucial to have supportive leadership and more female role models in senior positions to correct the gender gap. We strongly encourage tech brands to appoint more women in leadership roles and establish guidance and training opportunities for incoming women.

As we celebrate Women’s Day, we would like to appreciate all the women in STEM who bring their intelligence and grit to design a better future, despite the obstacles they face. We also want to encourage young girls to pursue careers in STEM and not let anyone tell them they can’t. Women have always been capable of everything, and we hope to see more women taking up the space they deserve in 2023 and beyond.’’

Ridhhi Sanghi

Ridhhi Sanghi- Director and Head, People Success-TurboHire

‘’At TurboHire, we are driven to revolutionize the traditional hiring process, and a significant part of our mission is to eliminate the subtle gender bias that influences hiring decisions. Our AI-powered solutions allow candidates to be assessed solely based on their abilities, which benefits women who may have been subject to unconscious biases. This approach also ensures that every company gets the best candidate for each job.

We provide companies with greater visibility on hiring trends, which is essential because many organizations may not even be aware of the gender disparities that exist on their teams. Technology has immense potential to bring the transparency and neutrality that our economy needs, and startups today understand the importance of diversity, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields like engineering and senior management.

As we celebrate Women’s Day in 2023, we want to reaffirm our commitment to empowering Indian women to achieve their highest potential. We appreciate the millions of women who are breaking barriers and building the careers they deserve. While we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go to achieve truly equitable representation, we believe that with the right technology and a sincere desire to be inclusive, companies can start making a difference today.’’