Women on Top.... continued

What is the way?

One of my favourite lines from a movie happens to be, “May the force be with you.” This somewhat corny line from a

legendary sci-fi film tends to sum up the spirit of the scale of vision and hard work that is needed to encourage both women entrepreneurs and the inclusion of women in the top brass of any organisation.

So what is needed to ensure that there are women in business in keeping with the percentage of India’s population they occupy? A mixture of grassroots empowerment, preferential access to funds, mentoring and sensitisation within society to a woman’s true potential is the recipe for ensuring greater participation of women at work.

As with any major transformation, change from the bottom and pressure from the top would both help to create the right environment.

Focussed programmes at the college level would be a great starting point. As Sudha Sarin, COO, Sampark PR, points out “ What we need is an entrepreneurial mindset and exposure to this can start at college itself. Colleges can hold business classes, and become a great catchment area for spurring and motivating young women to understand that there is an entrepreneurial option as well.”

Sarin also says that industry programmes could focus on small scale enterprises to begin with for encouraging broad based participation from women across industry sectors.

While there has been an increase in the number of women in business Amita Puri, Chief Executive of Charities Aid Foundation, feels that, “It is disproportionately small as compared to the population (of women) as well as the potential. One of the positive signs is the NGO’s focus on women whether through microfinance or developing entrepreneurs through capacity building and training.” However, Puri feels other options are also needed that provide,“ Due support through legislative and other measures, which include information and advice, preferred access to funding, training, mentoring and networking.”

At the end of the day what is needed is a revolution at the level of society itself where there is greater support and acceptance of a larger role for women professionals. Prajakt Raut, Co-Founder-Orange Cross, a healthcare initiative believes zero tolerance for discrimination coupled with a focus on merit based encouragement is the answer to bringing about measurable change, “Meritocracy is the only way to make success gender neutral. Look at ICICI Bank. The point is that the organization needs to create a framework that allows meritocracy to be imbibed in its culture and create a policy and framework in which performance and contribution can be measured, recognized and respected. What is needed is to create an organization that is sensitive to gender related issues. For example, how to deal with a younger woman boss and ruthlessly punishing anyone who brings a gender bias into the thought process will help.”

At the end of the day, women themselves are not asking for a free lunch, just measures and attitudes that allow their potential to manifest and make them true wealth creators and drivers of our economy.

Some resources:

  1. http://www.astia.org/: Founded in 1998 in Silicon Valley, Astia is an innovative not-for-profit organization with a mission to foster the full participation of women in entrepreneurship and as accelerators of high-growth companies. Astia offers programs for high-growth start-ups that deliver results.
  2. http://rangde.org/index.htm: Rang De’s mission is to make micro-credit accessible to every low income household by lowering loan interest rates through innovative means.

Next week: Would you pay for online news? The transformation of electronic news.

Paarul Chand is an entrepreneur and a media advocacy expert, with special focus on developmental issues. A writer, she has worked as a television journalist for shows on CNBC India, BBC World, Economic Times Television and Asia Business News-Dow Jones. She is founder Bright Lite Communications and Paar Asscociates, focusing on content, film making and media advocacy. She can be contacted at Your browser may not support display of this image. paarulchand9@gmail.com Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image.