A panel discussion was held by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Monday, featuring prominent business leaders Subhrakant Panda, President of FICCI, Uday Shankar, Immediate Past President of FICCI, and Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairperson of the Indian Sanitation Coalition.
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The conversation revolved around the challenges faced by women in the workforce, including the leaky pipeline that exists between the ages of 20 to 30, with women leaving due to reasons such as having children.
While talking to CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Naina Lal Kidwai emphasised the need for outreach to ensure that women return to work after maternity leave, as well as an ecosystem to support them. She added that it is important to create an enabling environment that provides equal opportunities for women.
"I think the whole area of outreach when they leave for maternity leave to bring them back in and the way you board them back in becomes important," Kidwai said.
"Because if you come back to a cohort which you belonged in, but your junior to that cohort and then you're being treated like the stepchild because, oh my God, she's got a kid at home and, oh my God, I don't want her on my team. Then there's no reason why you would come back to that organisation," she continued.
"So the way organisations engage with all that training and costs that went into creating that talent in the first place and, and on boarding them back is quite important," she added.
Uday Shankar shared his experience in setting up a news channel, where ensuring the safety of a large workforce of women was critical. He stressed that small things, like ensuring toilets on all floors, could make a big difference in making women feel welcome and safe in the workforce.
Shankar also highlighted the significance of initiatives such as the Women's Premier League, but added that there is a need to create opportunities for women to play club cricket and corporate cricket.
Additionally, Subhrakant Panda focused on the need to create a cohort in the workforce to provide a support system for women. He emphasised the importance of sensitizing the workforce, even to harmless comments that can create chaos.
He also stressed that employers should view employing women as an investment, rather than a benefit.
Watch video for interview