Pune: Swedish CEOs met in Pune today to discuss how to increase women in their workforce. According to the Business Climate Survey 2015/16 conducted by Swedish Chamber of Commerce India 8 out of 10 Swedish companies in India work actively with gender diversity. In average, 1 in every 5 employee is a female in the Swedish companies in India. However, the Swedish companies are aiming higher.
“Ensuring diversity in the business not only makes good business sense, but in the context of India it helps elevate an entire family. We need more engaging discussions and platforms to create catalytic benefits leading to sustained increase in the number of women on all positions across business” said Mr. Parag Satpute, Vice Chairperson, Swedish Chamber of Commerce India and Country Manager Sandvik Asia
Representatives from Alfa Laval, Coesia, De Laval, Hoganas, Josab, Nexus Technology, Tapflo, Tieto and Sandvik attended the roundtable hosted by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce India in partnership with the Consulate General in Mumbai.
Knowledge sharing on how to advance gender equality, how demographics, diversity and other issues affected recruitment and retention strategies as well as how to understand and overcome unconscious bias in promotion policy and practices were key in the discussions.
“We need to find measures that could lead to greater success for women – both for those already in leadership positions and also for getting more women into those posts. To discuss and try to learn from others experience is useful, but it is the translation into action that will tell how good a discussion was” said Mr Lars Dithmer, Managing Director Alfa Laval.
Gender equality is one of the cornerstones of Swedish society. The aim of Sweden’s gender equality policies is to ensure that women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life.
The overarching principle that was discussed is that everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to work and support themselves, to balance career and family life, and to live without the fear of abuse or violence. Companies discussed challenges and opportunities in implementing company values on diversity, inclusion as well as HR policies or methods that have leveraged the number of women in a formal workplace.
Special facilities like the availability of a crèche, special transportation services etc were also on the agenda. Structuring teams that are diverse and inclusion of women in the top management was also discussed.
To support women in leadership positions, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India has formed a group called Sambandh. A meeting place for women to engage, elicit and share experiences and to transfer ideas on how to encourage more women into the company structures back to the top management. The vision is to create a hub of exchange, learning, expansion of thought and perspective and building strong connections across organizations and fields of interest.
Ms. Fredrika Ornbrant, Consul General of Sweden, Mumbai said “Gender equality implies not only equal distribution between men and women in all domains of society. It is also about the qualitative aspects, ensuring that the knowledge and experience of both men and women are used to promote progress in all aspects of society. That is not only correct from a human rights perspective, but also from a business perspective. Women constitute 50 percent of the population and by adding their experiences companies will benefit from additional diversity which is good for business. A devoted top management is crucial for encouraging women into workplace and leadership positions. I’m optimistic that this start of exchange of experiences at the top will eventually lead to more women into Swedish companies. In a longer perspective, it is my hope this will lead to power and resources distributed more fairly between the sexes, and create conditions that give women and men the same power and opportunities”.
The most important thing is to understand that a problem does exist and needs immediate rectification for a stable world where gender is nothing more than a biological difference and not one which is seen as a barrier, obstacle or hindrance for any particular individual.
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