Women's Day Special: Time ripe for a serious overhaul to ensure gender equality in workforce

Compared with men, women’s earnings are just 83% of the equivalent male full-time workers.

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The financial services industry today is testament to the change, which is now reflecting the growth of representation of women in executive committees and boards.
By Koel Ghosh

As a mother to a precocious teenage daughter, one of the issues that I care deeply about is promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and supporting initiatives that help increase female representation in the executive ranks and boards of companies and institutions.

The financial services industry today is testament to the change, which is now reflecting the growth of representation of women in executive committees and boards.


S&P Global published a research recently that illustrated how US GDP growth could accelerate with increased female labour force participation and add a whopping $5.87 trillion to global market capitalisation in 10 years.

A one per cent growth in GDP makes S&P 500 return 3.4% on an average annually. An additional 0.2 point of GDP growth (thanks to female participation) would boost the S&P500 another 0.7% — and could increase US market capitalisation by $2.87 trillion in a decade.

Similarly, US growth influences larger gains in other countries such as Germany, China and Korea and the world.
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Many women are all too familiar with the ‘glass ceiling’ that keeps them looking up to similarly (or less-) qualified men in positions above them. Add to this wage gap that, while narrowing, stubbornly persists. Compared with men, women’s earnings are just 83% of the equivalent male full-time workers.

Therefore, women must work that extra 44 days each year to earn as much as their male counterpart does. More than 25% of mothers quit entirely for children or family care. Significant time taken off for child or family care is 39 per cent by mothers and 24 per cent by fathers.

While this may reflect their ability to be flexible and spend more time with families, it comes at the cost of unbridgeable wage disparity and limited opportunities for advancement. This raises the question of whether policies designed to help women work can have unintended consequences.

Nonetheless, there must be change, and all indications certainly suggest that society recognises this time in history as ripe for a serious overhaul in relation to gender accessibility to the workforce. Throughout my career in the financial services industry, I have been fortunate to have mentors, managers and colleagues who have helped me find opportunities to advance my career, and take on leadership responsibilities.
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At a personal level and beyond the important economic benefits of diversity and inclusion, I am inspired by female colleagues and financial industry peers who have shared their remarkable stories of overcoming career obstacles, and balancing demanding careers with personal lives.

In the corporate and financial world in India and globally, an increasing number of women are assuming senior decision-making roles at companies and other institutions paving the way for future female leaders.
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We still have a long way to go, but India is seeing a rise in female workforce participation and inclusion, and catching up with more developed countries. In India, the success of highly respected leaders such as Crisil CEO Ashu Suyash, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, JP Morgan India CEO Kalpana Morparia, to name only a few, show us the rich possibilities for women in financial services, government and other institutions.

Change is inevitable and women are demonstrating to be the agents of positive change. Encouragement, inspiration and mentoring will go a long way to grow and build a new generation of leaders and contributors who will open up new possibilities.

Indeed, an occasion such as International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of how far we have come, the progress we have made, and the doors that we still need to open. I look forward to the day when women in leadership roles become the norm for my daughter’s generation.

(Koel Ghosh is Head of South Asia at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Views are her own)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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