“Globally around 8000 companies have signed up for the UN Women’s principles for women empowerment. However, only 35% of companies indicate taking concrete actions towards implementing the principles. Clearly, there is a gap between aspiration and implementation. The Companies Act 2013 which mandated all publicly listed firms would have at least one women Director opened up a lot of opportunities for women. 14% of corporate board members in India are women.” said Ms. Susan Ferguson, Country Representative, UN Women India at the 4th Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Awards & Conclave organised by ASSOCHAM.
“Gender equality is key to diversity and inclusion. Women constitute half the total population, and we really shouldn’t even have to talk about diversity regarding women. It is important to include women and girls in whatever we are doing otherwise we risk being lopsided. Currently women are about 30% of the formal workforce but they do a lot of other work that is not recognised in the formal economy. This impacts their ability to get jobs in the formal economy.” she added.
“A responsive workplace is about workplace culture that reflects the needs and interest of diverse people. There is data that shows that women occupy less than one-third of leadership positions globally. Insights from LinkedIn show that if hiring were to be based solely on skills rather than previous job titles the proportion of women in the talent pool will increase 24%. Globally around 8000 companies have signed up for the UN Women’s principles for women empowerment. However, only 35% of companies indicate taking concrete actions towards implementing the principles. Clearly, there is a gap between aspiration and implementation. The Companies Act 2013 which mandated all publicly listed firms would have atleast one women Director opened up a lot of opportunities for women. 14% of corporate board members in India are women.” she added.
Addressing the summit, Dr. Muniraju S.B., Deputy Adviser, NITI Aayog, GoI said, “The people of Bharat have lived and breathe with unity and diversity. Unity is inbuilt in our culture. We take care of the vulnerable with utmost care and dignity and also uplift social justice in the country. The G20 leaders have adopted the principle of One Earth, One Family and One future in 2008 but India adopted ‘Vasudeva Kudambakam’ way back in 1500 BC. The idea of the phrase remain relevant today as it emphasises the global perspective, prioritising the collective wellbeing. Bharat is the 5th largest economy in the world and today the west looks towards India. The universities of Nalanda and Takshishila ”
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi Transgender rights activist, Dancer, and Writer, said, “In the past ten years, things have changed drastically in mainstream society and in the workforce in companies. However, it is sad that some still resort to tokenism with regards to inclusion and a box to be ticked. There is still limited awareness about Trans-men, which is a problem. People want to work, have a dignified life and be respected. The notion of sex work and begging to be the traditional domain of transgenders can be changed when there is understanding that this community is as human, as equal and as productive as anyone else.”
Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National CSR Council and President-Corporate Affairs, ITC Ltd said “Diversity is not merely a buzzword; it is the essence of the human experience. Our differences – be they in race, gender, ethnicity, age, abilities, or perspectives – enrich our collective tapestry, providing a kaleidoscope of ideas, insights, and innovation. In a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, embracing diversity is not just a moral imperative; it is a strategic necessity. He also stated that Inclusion is the key that unlocks the full potential of diversity. Inclusion is about creating a culture where every individual is welcomed, valued and respected. It is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background or identity, has an equal opportunity to contribute, grow, and succeed. Inclusive workplaces are not just more ethical; they are more innovative, more adaptive, and ultimately more successful.”
Mr. Ravi Bhatnagar, Co-Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National CSR & Empowerment Councils, said “It’s great to be part of the change but better if we are the change. The opening of a disabled friendly canteen in the Supreme Court of India is a watershed moment in the new Bharat. With the ethos and philosophy of sabka sath, sabka vikas we will be able to do more justice to diversity and inclusion. We know that Nalanda and Takshashila have taught many things to the world. The Gupta empire had contributed much to the culture and knowledge of the world through its philosophy and ideology. We are now poised to become Vishwaguru by 2047. Let us all pay due attention to persons with disabilities, LGBTQ and Senior citizens and explore the best utilisation of their talents for our economy. By providing equal opportunities to all, we can add another 3 to 4% to our GDP. Governments at the national and state level are doing their best by enacting legislations. In 2019, The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was enacted, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, in 2016 with enough provisions for inclusivity and we look forward to the collaborative efforts from the private sectors to incorporate inclusive HR policies and practices and ensure that no one is left behind.”
The conclave also saw address by eminent industry professionals such as Ms. Sarika Minda, Chairperson, SparkMinda Foundation; Mr. Vishal Kedia, Co-Chairperson, ASSOCHAM National Empowerment Council & Founder and Director, Complykaro Services Private Limited; Ms. Anjali Bhatia, General Manager- National Sales HR Head, Carlsberg
More than 100 corporations across sectors participated in ASSOCHAM’s D&I Excellence Awards, and winners were recognised in the presence of the Government and corporations in the conclave under the award category: Best Employer for Women; Best Employer for Persons with Disabilities; Best Employer for Policies on Diversity & Inclusion; D&I Champion Award (Individual Level) for small, medium and large scale.