BYJU’S hosted a special Women’s Day panel discussion on building inclusive workplaces moderated by Vineet Singh, with Prathyusha Agarwal, Rachna Bahadur, and Mansi Kasliwal
Since its inception in 2011, BYJU’S has worked to build diverse teams that operate within an inclusive environment, respecting every employee for who they are while providing them with greater opportunities to succeed.
On the occasion of Women’s Day 2022, BYJU’S hosted a special panel discussion on creating inclusive workplaces moderated by Vineet Singh VP Brand & Creative Strategy featuring BYJU’S leaders Mansi Kasliwal, Prathyusha Agarwal, and Rachna Bahadur, as panellists.
Evolution of inclusivity at the workplace
Prathyusha, who recently joined BYJU’S as the company’s Chief Business Officer for the Early Learn vertical, shared powerful insights on the subject drawing from her 20-year-long career so far. She explained that she has seen the evolution of inclusivity at the workplace take place on three levels— An organisational level, with how companies are structuring themselves to be more diverse and inclusive. At a personal level and how people are pushing for what they want out of their workplace. And third, at a societal level.
She discussed how, in the past, workplaces were designed for a predominantly-male workforce and how she navigated through that ecosystem to fit in. Today, inclusivity at the workplace has moved on from just a ‘tolerant accommodation’ to a system where active design is kept in mind while designing for heterogeneous work groups — Not just women, but all archetypes of people.
According to research, diverse teams perform better and are more innovative leading to viable organisational growth.They’re also better at adapting to changing scenarios, producing the most innovative ideas and boosting productivity. Over the past decade, an increasing number of companies in India and around the world are taking proactive steps to bridge gaps in inclusion and diversity, brick by brick.
Workplace inclusivity in India
Rachna, who is Senior Vice President of International Business BYJU’S and Global GM Epic, shared valuable insight on the subject of building inclusive workplaces. Having studied at The Wharton School of Business and previously worked on developing an inclusive and gender non-conforming (GNC) environment for women to thrive in, Rachna offered her perspective on whether ‘inclusivity’ as a concept has evolved much more slowly in India than in Western settings. “I think that’s a perception,” she stated.
While there are disparities in Indian workplaces compared to Western workplaces, she noted that many things are simpler in our country from a logistical standpoint. For instance, many women find that their families double as a support system when they have a newborn and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance. This sort of familial support is not commonplace in Western settings. “We have this saying — ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ I am not a mother but I have seen a lot of my friends get that support from their family to be able to raise their child and have a fulfilling career,” Rachna explained.
She also highlighted that changes in terms of responsibilities need to begin from home to have a wider impact in society. Even today, nearly 8 in 10 (78%) Indian women say they take on the bulk of the household management and chores, much higher than 66% globally. Women in India are also more likely to take on more responsibility for childcare (47% vs. 38% globally) and care of other dependents (30% vs. 23% globally). Even if women have full-time jobs and are successful in their careers, they are still expected to be primary homemakers and caregivers. Rachna emphasised that women need to play a key role in bringing about change.
Pay disparity in the workforce
Mansi Kasliwal, Vice President-Social Initiatives, who leads BYJU’S ‘Education For All’ (EFA) initiative has been working on transforming the lives of families with BYJU’S learning programmes, primarily in underserved communities by working with partners and allies to create opportunities for them. This transformation is not only helping build a fairer world – it is also driving inclusive growth and plugging gaps in diversity and inclusion in often overlooked sections of society.
Mansi highlighted how even in women-dominated workplaces there is a gender pay gap and disparity in leadership positions, saying, “In the not-for-profit sector, 75% of all jobs in that sector are led by women yet only 18% have leadership roles. When you start looking at the pay gap, women actually have 8% less pay than their peers for the same roles and positions. So, even in a sector which is led by women, you will find skewed wages and leadership positions. The question I often ask myself is, ‘are we asking often enough? Are we really standing up and asking for equal pay?” Mansi said that she believes the only way for women to plug the pay gap is to actually ask for change. “You don’t get what you don’t ask for,” she stressed.
According to a recent report, aside from increasing pay, 18% of Indian women also feel that offering better learning opportunities would be the most beneficial action their employer could take to support women’s career development.
Fostering inclusivity through EFA
The session also addressed the the subject of feminism and the struggles young women face while trying to rise towards leadership positions. Prathusha offered some advice in that regard saying, “While we blame the demons outside, it is the demons inside our head we need to fight. If you have a leadership mindset, I don’t think any perception from the outside can impact you. Never let society’s perspective of you frame your own perspective”.
Finally, discussing what BYJU’S is doing to foster inclusivity, Mansi said, “One big step that we’ve taken is the entire leadership being the force behind a programme like EFA. Inclusivity is not just about gender inclusivity. It is also about economic inclusivity, affordability, regionalism and much more. With EFA we are actually addressing the learning gaps of children who can’t afford or don’t have access to education.”
She added, “We focus on gender as well by ensuring a 50:50 girl child ratio for our free education programmes. We also support children who are terminally ill and non-gender-conforming, who are often bullied and unable to find a place in regular schools. There are so many bias-based or access-based or affordability-based challenges that exist. The fact that BYJU’S is taking a stand and taking action to bring all under this umbrella of EFA is one huge step towards inclusivity”.
Passing the baton, the women concluded the session by sharing advice that they wished they had gotten when they were younger: Be kind to yourself, back yourself, and speak up more.
The session also saw the unveiling of BYJU’S new brand film ‘#NeverStop’ — an ode to the women who have left an indelible mark on history and opened up the path for other women to follow and lead. The video urges women to never stop believing, inspiring and learning.
Watch the video here:
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