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Empower Women, Fuel Growth: The Inclusion Advantage: Jyotsna Dash Nanda

Women assume diverse roles and have historically served as the cornerstone of the nation's economic prosperity. The recognition of the business rationale for inclusion and diversity is growing. Although social justice often initiates these endeavors, businesses are now increasingly viewing inclusion and diversity as pivotal drivers of competitive advantage, specifically facilitating growth. 

Advancements in diversification initiatives have been sluggish, and companies remain unsure about the most effective ways to leverage diversity and inclusion in achieving their growth and value-creation objectives.

As per a McKinsey Global Institute survey, providing women with equal opportunities could potentially contribute $770 billion to the country's GDP by 2025. 

This underscores the significance of a female workforce in enhancing national economic output. Women have consistently showcased their capabilities and achievements across lucrative industries and businesses, highlighting their proficiency and success not only in entrepreneurial ventures but also in traditionally male-dominated professional fields.

India has the potential to enhance its GDP by ensuring ample and fair opportunities for women in the workplace. In addition to the economic advantages, increasing the participation of women in the workforce contributes to societal and individual benefits.

In both economic and domestic spheres, women are fostering an environment conducive to advancing development. Presently, we witness women taking the helm of companies and organizations, leveraging their ability to offer superior mentorship. Recognizing the significance of diversity in achieving business success is crucial for organizations.

A significant organizational challenge lies in supporting women as they make the transition from mid-level management to leadership roles. 

Organizations must proactively identify and cultivate talent among mid-level professionals, equipping them to ascend to leadership positions in due course.

As an organization, it is imperative to methodically assess mid-level talent and implement targeted interventions to facilitate their progression into leadership roles. Tailored initiatives such as learning programs, coaching, mentoring, and management development are instrumental in aiding women's transition into leadership positions.

Balancing multiple responsibilities is a common occurrence in a woman's life, encompassing employment, household management, and parental supervision. These facets synergize to empower women leaders in swiftly adapting to new environments and addressing real-world job challenges.

However, biases and perceptions need to change. The recent Women’s Day content by the Urban Company vis-à-vis the Tiago video is a case in point. Though the Tiago video seems like UGC content and is not the brand’s perspective – it reflects a certain sentiment as all brands are struggling to appeal to every audience segment.

The struggle for gender equality should not rest solely on women. It is crucial not just to empower women but also to raise boys who evolve into secure allies for these empowered women. To avoid a scenario in 2054 where we are still depicting empowered yet unsupported women, we must focus on nurturing men who actively advocate for and support women's causes.

As the economic crisis settles, we anticipate women will assume an even more significant role in the global economy. Projecting forward, the trends observed over the last five decades are expected to persist. The workforce will see a growing representation of women, driven partly by the necessity of employment. In many major consumer companies, the majority of middle managers are already women, hinting at an eventual progression into higher-ranking positions.

Presently, women own 40% of businesses in the United States, experiencing double the growth rate of U.S. firms overall. However, India lags far behind. While some figures may be influenced by small businesses' positioning for government contracts favouring female-owned companies, this trajectory signifies a notable shift. Nevertheless, challenges such as work/life balance, conflicting demands, and time constraints will persist for women in the workforce.

On a global scale, women wield significant influence, commanding around $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, with projections indicating a potential increase to $28 trillion in the next five years. Their collective total yearly earnings of $13 trillion might escalate to $18 trillion within the same period. 

In essence, the women's market is at par with the economic magnitude of China and India combined, underscoring its immense growth potential. Despite these compelling figures, many companies, even those confident in their strategies targeting women, often overlook or underestimate the power of the female consumer.

As companies recognize the potential of the female economy, new commercial opportunities emerge within women's social concerns. Women prefer to support businesses that contribute positively to the world, particularly in areas that promote well-being, environmental sustainability, education, and care for the needy, fostering love and connection. 

Understanding and addressing women's needs will be crucial for economic rebuilding, unlocking opportunities for growth, loyalty, and market dominance as women now drive the economy.

Jyotsna Dash Nanda, AVP, corporate communications, DS Group.

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