The unstoppable women

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Naren Krishna, the founder of Stockroom.io, the startup which organised Women Changemakers Career Fair and Confluence in the city last week, shares how the platform encourages working women, workplace diversity, and equal pay

Women Changemakers Career Fair and Confluence, an initiative of Stockroom.io, a Bengaluru’-based startup (funded by Mancer Consulting), took place on June 8 in the city. The event was aimed at providing a platform for women to identify better job opportunities and understand diversity initiatives of leading corporate organisations. 

Stockroom.io helps companies hire curated technology talent. Women who aim to make it big in their careers or want to restart their careers after a gap, also found the event to be a great oppurtunity to network with women corporate leaders and apply for available job roles across various organisations. 

About 850 women with professional experience and about 498 re-starters participated in the fair which focused on discussions that helped them apply for suitable job roles.

The event also marked the launch of Women Changemakers Returnship Program: Debut 2.0, which is a four week online internship programme for women who have taken a break in their careers and want to re-enter the workforce as recruitment professionals. This programme will enable corporates to recruit potential women candidates who can work from the comfort of their homes as recruiters.

What was the idea behind starting the initiative? Naren Krishna, founder of Stockroom.io, says that initially, the startup focussed on recruitment in the technology sector. “A lot of big companies that we were working for asked us if we could do exclusive women events to help increase the number of women in the workforce. We did a couple small scale events, but then I realised that we needed to create a platform on a larger scale where both the companies and women talent could come together. Over the last two years, we have undoubtedly become one of the leading platforms for career-oriented women,” says Krishna, adding that they work with a wide range of sectors including technology, services, banking, consulting, many non-technology based companies etc. 

Workplace diversity, says Krishna, is one of the keys to a great productivity for an organisation. However, unfortunately, not many sectors have been able to achieve this equality. Says he, “Women constitute only 28 per cent of the workforce whereas men make for 82 per cent, hence we are trying to bridge this big gap. However, we also know that this transformation will not happen overnight and it will take years for gender equality in the corporate world.” 

Sexism prevails
Despite the changing roles of women in the modern world where they are flying jet planes and making their presence felt on a global platform through their achievements, people don’t stop passing sexist remarks such as ‘Women don’t understand technology. How can they work in a tech-based company?’ Dissing this mentality, Krishna says that when we look at roles models, a lot of times it is women who are at the top positions in companies that are primarily dealing in technology and that inspires others and also helps break this myth. “Many of our speakers at events are women are leaders in the field of technology and science. That kind of sends out a message to other women, ‘if we can do it, so can you.’ If you analyse companies that are tech giants, you’ll find women leading a crore of team of tech experts and have great roles in those companies. It is very important that we focus on the importance of role models that depict equal representation and opportunities for women,” he adds. 

Krishna says that tech companies are ensuring that women who go on a break from work and want to resume, are given training in the latest trends in technology so that they are up to date with that is new and do not lag behind men.  

Challenges
Speaking of reasons that hinder diversity at workplace, Krishna says that one of the major reasons is women going on a sabbatical and not returning to their respective professions. “The per cent of women returning to work is very low. If you access diversity at entry level job in companies is not an issue because women employees for these positions are young and fresh graduates. The real issue arises when they get married or have a child. There are various reasons why this happens— family pressures, women having misconception that since they have been on a break from work, companies won’t hire them and finally lack of flexibility at the workplace. Women who have been on a break should understand that companies are willing to train them and hire them once again even if there has been a hiatus in their career for 3-4 years. Also, companies must realise the work environment and working hours must be made flexible for women and keep their problems and issues in mind while making policies and benefit programmes. Only then more and more women will be encouraged to bounce back to work and perform well. Having said that, companies are becoming more flexible and understanding,” asserts Krishna.  

Krisha feels that to have a gender equal workplace, the unconscious biases that people have first need to be curbed which includes hiring equal numbers of women and men based on merit in an organisation. He explains, “For a given role/position in a company, recruiters have to select both female and male profiles. In most organisations, out of the five selected profiles, four are of a male candidate and that’s a huge problem that causes inequality in an organisation. To get rid of this bias, a lot of companies now have started to hide the profiles of the candidates and only after they perform well at the assessment test, are their profiles unlocked and they selected. It is a great step to stop recruiters from having unconscious biases.” 

Wage gap is an issue that has time and again been discussed by Bollywood and Hollywood actresses, but what about the corporate world? Speaking of pay gap in different sectors, Krishna says, “A couple of years ago, wage gap was a big issue in the corporate world, but currently almost every company that we are working with is ensuring that there is pay parity and salary is not designed based on an employee’s gender but on their merit and position. Many companies are also publishing annual diversity reports that show the number of female employees hired in the given years, and what has been their salary structure to ensure that more women apply for jobs at these companies.” 

Some of the observations about women of Pune made during the career fair 

  • More women in Pune keen to start a career after a break than when compared with women from other non-metropolitan cities. 
  • Out of a total talent pool of 1700 entries received from Pune, 498 women are career re-starters and 430 are returning after a maternity break.  
  • Tech still remains the most sought after domain for women of Pune  and more than 50 per cent  participants had a tech background.
  • Forty six women with 15+ years of experience, who participated in the event, are looking for senior leadership roles

ST READER SERVICE 
Debut 2.0 is a free programme that women can register for by visiting www.wcmi.in/debut-2.0. You can also visit www.equiv.in, Stockroom.io’s exclusive diversity job portal to explore more opportunities

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