Guest column: Legal framework has ushered in many changes

Gender parity at the workplace has evolved considerably in India thanks to societal, economic and business pressures,  changes in the legal framework and the presence of role models, says Ms Priya Chetty Rajagopal, a CXO Search Consultant and Citizen Evangelist  

The present scenario may have changed, but the realisation will sink in when the next generation arrives at the workplace, in her view. “The younger women at the workplace today are far less concerned about gender than their predecessors were. But it’s not enough for only women not to have to care about this. It’s equally important for men not to think on these lines as well. As we go ahead on this journey of gender parity, it’s important to include the men,” she underlines.

Speaking from her own experience, she says that when you are in a senior position, you have age and experience on your side and so it’s less uphill. “You have less to prove and so you make more nuance decisions ,which are really genderless and this has emerged in a good way. Now it’s more about the individual than the gender,” she notes.

The changed legal framework is largely responsible for this development, according to her. “Be it the sexual harassment cases or the six month maternity leave, it’s a more assertive system now,” she observes, however acknowledging that this is more visible in the regulated sector.

“The bigger concern is really in providing the same kind of support in the unregulated workforce because more than 50 per cent of our women are employed there,” she says.

While the change will not happen overnight and will take much longer to become a part of the whole ecosystem, she believes even small gestures in our homes and individual workplaces can make a difference.

“The evolution is a work in progress and we always have to keep the pressure going. To sit back and settle is the biggest danger. We need to acknowledge what has happened and at the same time realise a lot needs to be done still,” she stresses.

Although overall she is very grateful about the way things are moving, she points out that the change is largely confined to the organised sector, which forms  a very small percentage of the workforce. “We have to go below the tip of the iceberg. What we see at the top is wonderful and must be celebrated, but we also need to go below and make sure that the changes filter there as well,” she sums up.

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