Inclusive workforce design of tomorrow

Mahua Mukherjee
Jul 11, 2018 · 4 min read

We have been exposed to multiple articles and statistics from analysts stating “the labour force participation rate for women is falling in India” or “If India can increase women’s labour force participation by 10 percentage points (68 million more women) by 2025, India could increase its GDP by $700 Billion” — But the real question is how do we create and enable an ecosystem that will help actualize execution at this scale.

This topic has been my area of research and interest since last 2 years. I was privileged to be in the corporate workforce for almost two decades with global exposure, challenging experiences being a mother of two lovely boys.

My emphasis on the word “being” is quite loaded. Let me illustrate with a scenario that is easy to relate. When managers are given a choice between similar caliber boy or girl who is married with a young kid — who would you think they will recruit as part of their growing team? The response is obvious in 90% cases mostly due to our mental model and unconscious biases. We need to zoom out and reflect on these simple bias traps that boosts inequality.

Though there is a long way to go but the good news is positive wave of change has started since last 5–6 years across the globe. These words that were less heard of before has now become dominant #hashtags across social media— #womenempowered #womeninstem #womenintech #diversity #diversityandinclusion #diversityleader etc. Talent management teams in organizations are driving “Women empowerment” initiatives to stay competitive with their peers.

So how do we fix the broken workforce design? What should we aspire to do different? How can we get together to make the 2025 dream into reality?

Here are some initial hypothesis of what can be probable solutions basis series of discussions with professional women, women who have taken break from work to support family or childcare and inputs from research articles:

  1. Create additional networking platforms for women — Networking is the most impactful tool to professional success, it is just not talent or skill. Networking through online platforms and offline forums beyond one’s circle of friends and family will get them exposed to possibilities, ideas, success stories and learning from other professional journeys. Some organizations have started investing in networking platforms to improve their employee engagement, connect and loyalty.
  2. Design innovative sourcing model — Organizations will have to innovate beyond traditional full time sourcing models. On-demand/flexi /part time/remote are possible solutions to increase diversity in workforce. Models like “fit for short term roles” and “part time capacity for job sharing” need to become dominant rather than long-term full-time positions. Moreover in the changing times, millenniums and generation z are keen to do interesting work, they are not looking for stability. HR policies and initiatives have to evolve to support innovative sourcing.
  3. Spot latent talent pool in networks — Organizations can tap into the databases of women professional networks to spot talent. Women do not exist today in the current available professional sites as they feel intimidated of not having a flaunting career. Based on recent statistics, only 44% users in Linkedin are women and in India we have 47M Linkedin users. The maths is easy — isn’t it ? If we have to initiate the drive of adding 68M more women in workforce by 2025 we need to reimagine and reframe the current workforce design models.
  4. Become sponsors not mentors — The role of mentors and coaches are undoubtedly very important to guide and help us re-anchor our personal and professional journeys. But now to help drive this scale of inclusion we will need ‘sponsors’ and not just mentors. Sponsors who will be the change agents to take responsibility of enrolling diverse candidates into workforce — the goal can be as simple as addition of 1–2 capable diverse candidates in workforce each year by a sponsor. Now the question might be in your mind — who is the sponsor? Sponsor can be anyone among us who can step ahead to make the change happen.

The thought of 2025 workforce where #inequality, #equalpay #diversity will possibly not be topics of discussions as equality will be the new normal — Can we really make this happen?

A recent article published on 9 Jul 2018 endorses and reinforces this new work design as “gig economy”. It has mention of a platform named “GigNow” that has been launched by Ernst & Young to promote short-term project based flexi work options

Definitely exciting times ahead. There is so much each one of us can contribute if we just apply a different strategy to life — Pause-Reflect-Enact. Let us ignite the drive within and come out of our cruise control mode to make a difference in our own way.