Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow

Towards achieving an ‘equal’ future for a sustainable tomorrow

Published on : 3/8/22
  • Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow

    Gender inequality has always been a pressing concern at workplaces. According to a study, women across the world are being paid $0.98 for every $1.00 that men are paid for doing the same job. This pay gap is even wider in certain industries and for women in leadership positions. Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation. Working women are severely impacted, especially those with small children and in senior positions of organisations. A report shows that responsibilities on women have increased multi-fold, both at home and in their career, during the pandemic.

    Women employees are slowly but steadily getting morally discouraged over non-inclusive behaviour from their employers as the lack of support from their managers to help balance their work and life is too evident. This lack of empathy is forcing women to look for a change of job or to quit completely. Almost 51% of women are less optimistic about their career prospects now than before the onset of the pandemic. The emotional as well as physical wellbeing of females is taking a severe hit while the job satisfaction at their workplaces is also not too encouraging. Many women wanting to join back work after a sabbatical are wary about the existing pay gap issue.

    However, some organisations are striving to create an inclusive work culture for women at the workplace. Women working for these gender equality leaders report experiencing better wellbeing and productivity before the pandemic, and more so today. They experience a stronger sense of belonging and a more trusting relationship with managers.

    So, what steps are these gender equality leaders taking to support women employees?

    1. More access to flexible working
    2. Clear boundaries around working hours
    3. More time-off
    4. Better access to mental health resources
    5. Additional financial support

    Can gig economy be the way forward for working women today?

    A survey by the UN Development Programme and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) shows 57% of people believe that gig economy is the answer for women’s employment today. Independence to work flexible shifts, shorter projects, varied project opportunities and being available 24X7 for assignments are the major reasons why the gig model can work in women’s favour. However, this transformation in the workspace needs to be more streamlined.

    There is a necessity for rules and regulations to safeguard the interests of both the employers and the employees in the gig economy. Safety and security of female gig workers should be ensured. They should have better access to law enforcement channels, financial instruments, and insurance.

    How is Sodexo supporting women gig workers?

    Gender diversity has always been a business imperative and a differentiator at Sodexo. A gender balance study conducted by Sodexo shows that entities with gender balanced teams score higher on 5 key performance indicators – operating margins, employee retention, client retention, safety, and employee engagement.

    Since creating a better every day for everyone to build a better life for all is the motto at Sodexo, the company strives to promote women in leadership, frontline roles and also as micro-entrepreneurs to ensure female self-sufficiency and to bring about a better balance in the ecosystem.

    As part of the Better Tomorrow 2025 Vision, Sodexo rolled out a policy to increase the number of women/business value from women entrepreneurs in their supplier base in 2017. Recognizing a lack of formal platforms representing women entrepreneurs, Sodexo initiated collaboration with local NGOs to connect with women entrepreneurs, in addition to starting a dialogue with existing suppliers on procurement activities with women-led enterprises. This has enabled more women entrepreneurs to connect with Sodexo directly and receive support through training and financial planning. For instance, several small- and medium-sized women-owned enterprises lacked appropriate Health and Safety know-how to meet the required Sodexo protocols. They were provided the required support to upgrade and follow best-in-class safety procedures and practices. Further, to provide liquidity, a relaxed policy was implemented to conditionally approve and reduce the credit period. Focus has been on small-scale food vendor industries selling chapatti, pickle, papad, and chips, which have a high density of women entrepreneurs.

    To sum it, with a will to overcome gender disparities and integrate a diverse and inclusive culture, making flexibility a differentiator Sodexo is on its way to creating a more equal world.

    Contributed By: Rohit Bahety, Country President & CFO, India