ASSOCHAM recognises leaders in Diversity & Inclusion Excellence

New Delhi: The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) today virtually organised its 2nd Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Awards & Conclave. The prestigious event saw participation of various companies of which top 24 companies won the awards in different categories.

The winners were selected after a stringent ‘shortlisting and judging process’ by an independent panel of eminent jury members comprising industry leaders – Mr Anil Rajput, Chairperson, ASSOCHAM CSR Council and Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, ITC Ltd.; Mr Ravi Bhatnagar, Co-Chairperson, ASSOCHAM CSR Council and Director External Affairs & Partnerships (AMESA), Reckitt Benckiser; Mr T.D. Dhariyal, Former State Commissioner For Persons with Disabilities, Govt. of NCT of Delhi; Ms Pranita Achyut, Director Research and Programs, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW); Mr Rajeev Doval, Head, Times For India Org; Mr Vishal Kedia, Founder and Director, Complykaro Services Pvt. Ltd. and Ms Suhela Khan, Country Program Manager, UN Women.

India Inc. should come forward and work in tandem with the government to address issues like access to health, education, welfare, skill upgradation, shelter and economic support for livelihood of marginalised sections of society, Minister of state for social Justice and empowerment, Mr Rattan Lal Kataria urged the industry in his address during ASSOCHAM Awards.

“The government’s utmost priority and commitment is to take proactive, holistic, and comprehensive initiatives to educate, sustainably employ, and empower women, persons with disabilities (PwDs), Transgenders and other vulnerable sections of the society through its consistent policy interventions,” said Mr Kataria.

The Minister further said, “We look forward to partnering with Indian trade and industry and help us to propagate gender diversity, equal opportunities for People with Disabilities, HIV and Transgender Persons and ensure that all corporates implement it in ‘letter and spirit’ to achieve the overall social justice.”

In his address during ASSOCHAM webinar, Mr Ashish Srivastava, additional secretary, Union Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) said that while there has been a decimal kind of increase between 2017-18 and 2018-19 in terms of female labour force participation rate in India, the situation is not good.

“Looking at the gender gap index of the World Economic Forum, our position dropped from 98 in 2006 to 112 in 2020. Together with industry, trade associations and commercial enterprises we need to ponder very-very seriously on this,” he said.

He added, “If we look at the sub-parameters within this index, one of the main important parameters about economic participation and opportunity in 2006 when our rank was 110, now in 2020 our rank was 149 and our score is .354 against an average score of .582, so we have done a good job in getting pulled down or falling down. There are other areas as well education attainment, health and survival, but only in political empowerment we have moved two ranks up from 20 to 18.”

In health and survival and education, he said India has had a drop.

“If we look at the labour force participation rate, our rank is 145 and our score is .3 or 4 against global average of .661. If we look at wage equality for similar work, our rank is 117, our score is .555 against a global average of .613. Estimated earned income in thousands of dollars, our rank is 144 and our score is .206 against a global average of .499,” informed Mr Srivastava.

In terms of senior officials, managers and legislators India ranked 136 with score of .158 against a global average of .356. While for professionals and technical workers, India’s rank is 132 with a score of .434 against a global average of .756.

“So, we are definitely well below average in all the constituent indicators and parameters. We need to give it a good thought and response in clear output and outcome-oriented terms. We all know that women, girls, and other marginalised sections of society tend to be more disproportionally impacted by any kind of natural or man-made calamity,” said Mr Srivastava.

He further said that in the context of Covid-19, women have had to face disproportionate burden and that has exacerbated the possibilities of their entering, remaining retained in the workforce and labour market as well as in positions across the vertical spectrum which includes positions at the managerial and board levels as well as at the brown and blue-collar level activity.

“Of course, there are gender stereotypes which are strong, standing and we need to improve to respond to them. Besides, there are also issues concerning to gender pay gap,” said Mr Srivastava.

“In the near future we do not see, what we have done is enough, of course we are doing a lot. The reality is standing in front of our eyes and we need to remember and continually be able to respond together to be able to bring about the change which we aspire and dream for in the least possible time,” he said.

Sharing his perspective Mr Vineet Agarwal, president, ASSOCHAM said, “A lot needs to be done and industries need to join hands with government to promote the job opportunities and other welfare benefits for people with disabilities, who are, a large, untapped pool of talent. In this regard, we need to develop special programs to develop skills to succeed and to cater to this target group.”