As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's pivotal to acknowledge the positive strides made by Indian companies in championing gender equality.

This blog delves into the impactful policies and benefits offered to female employees, showcasing how forward-thinking initiatives are empowering women in the workplace.

From flexible work arrangements to robust support systems, these measures not only recognize the diverse needs of women professionals but also contribute to their success, well-being, and professional growth.

Join us in exploring the transformative impact of these initiatives as we applaud the commitment of Indian companies to create an inclusive and thriving work environment for all.

Initiatives for Women provided by companies

Recognizing and supporting the diverse needs of female employees is crucial for creating an inclusive and equitable work environment.

Here are some key policies and benefits that companies in India could consider introducing for female employees:

Equal Pay

Equal pay for women professionals in India is pivotal for fostering workplace fairness. Ensuring that women receive the same remuneration as their men for similar roles promotes gender equality and economic empowerment.

This practice not only recognizes the value of women's contributions but also enhances workplace morale and commitment.

Achieving equal pay reflects a commitment to diversity and inclusion, attracting and retaining top female talent. It contributes to closing the gender pay gap and fostering a more equitable and supportive professional landscape in India.

Overall, equal pay is instrumental in creating a work environment that values and rewards skills and expertise, irrespective of gender, thereby promoting a more balanced and inclusive workforce.

Equal Opportunities

Equal opportunities for women professionals in India are essential for dismantling gender barriers and fostering inclusivity.

Providing equal access to career advancement, promotions, and leadership roles based on merit rather than gender ensures a level playing field. This practice promotes diversity, enriching workplaces with varied perspectives and talents.

Women benefit from enhanced professional growth, breaking through traditional limitations. Equal opportunities create a supportive environment, reducing gender stereotypes and bias.

Organizations that prioritize equal opportunities attract diverse talent, contributing to innovation and better decision-making.

Ultimately, fostering equal opportunities for women in the professional sphere leads to a more equitable, empowered, and dynamic workforce in India.

Many leading companies understand the significance of providing equal opportunities to their employees. We spoke to Sangeeta Shetty, Senior Director, HR of Ascendion, who talks of their ‘WE C.A.R.E’ program that raises awareness about the need for ongoing efforts towards gender equality.

Furthermore, Deepa Narayan, Vice President, Employee Success at Salesforce also added, “Our Equality Groups, what we call our employee resource groups, are central to community, connection, and belonging at Salesforce. With our focus on breaking gender barriers, we are creating a workplace that not only helps women feel included but also helps them thrive.”

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements in India offer women professionals a transformative approach to work, fostering work-life balance and adaptability.

These arrangements, encompassing remote work, flexible hours, and part-time options, empower women to manage their career and personal lives effectively. Beyond individual well-being, flexible policies contribute to talent retention by attracting skilled professionals and tapping into a broader talent pool.

The reduction of commuting stress through remote work enhances productivity and quality of life. Inclusive workplace cultures that acknowledge diverse roles empower women, promoting gender equality.

Additionally, flexible arrangements provide crucial support during life changes, such as pregnancy or family emergencies, ensuring women can navigate various life stages without compromising their professional growth.

Embracing flexibility not only benefits women professionals but also enhances overall workplace dynamics and diversity in India.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave in India, governed by the Maternity Benefit Act, plays a crucial role in supporting women professionals.

Offering a minimum of 26 weeks (about 6 months) of leaves, ensures new mothers get the time to prioritize their health, bond with their infants, and embrace motherhood. This extended leave fosters breastfeeding and promotes the child's well-being.

Beyond individual benefits, it contributes to the retention of female talent, ensuring professional continuity and sending a positive message about workplace inclusivity.

Legal protection safeguards women from discrimination, fostering workplace equality and gender sensitivity.

Companies that prioritize maternity leave enhance employee morale, loyalty, and societal norms, promoting a more balanced and supportive work environment for women professionals in India.

Deepa Narayan comments, “Our policies include extended Parental Leave, with 26 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers and 12 weeks for secondary, applicable to all parents, including adoptive and foster parents, ensuring women have substantial support during pivotal family moments.”

Childcare Support

Childcare support is crucial for empowering women professionals in India. Accessible and reliable childcare facilities alleviate the dual burden of work and caregiving, enabling women to pursue their careers without compromise.

This support enhances work-life balance, reducing stress and boosting productivity. It addresses a significant barrier to women's career progression, facilitating their active participation in the workforce.

Employers offering childcare support demonstrate a commitment to gender equality, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Additionally, it positively impacts retention rates and talent acquisition, as women are more likely to stay and thrive in organizations that recognize and address their caregiving needs.

Overall, childcare support plays a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for women professionals in India, unlocking their full potential.

For example, companies like InfoEdge are leading with example by offering working professionals access to Creche facilities for their children with proper staff and security in place. This allows the working parents to be at peace and peace but also focus on their respective productivity.

Health and Wellness Programs

Health and wellness programs play a pivotal role in supporting women professionals in India. These initiatives encompass physical and mental well-being, addressing specific health concerns women may face.

Regular health check-ups, fitness programs, and mental health resources contribute to preventive care and stress management.

By prioritizing employee health, organizations enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism, and foster a positive workplace culture. For women, these programs offer targeted support, addressing issues like maternal health, reproductive wellness, and stress-related challenges.

Accessible wellness programs not only contribute to women's overall health and job satisfaction but also underscore an organization's commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment, promoting long-term well-being in the professional sphere.

Chhaya Sharma, Head of Human Resources at axio, adds, “We have recently announced a mandatory leave policy wherein employees can plan their leaves in advance and avail the benefit of extended leaves. This prevents them from experiencing burnout at work while also nudging them to pursue their passions or hobbies, travel, spend time with their families, or simply unwind.”

Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development opportunities are instrumental in empowering women professionals in India.

Access to skill-building, mentorship, and leadership programs enables women to advance their careers, fostering upward mobility. These initiatives address gender disparities by providing tailored support and boosting confidence and competence.

Organizations investing in women's professional growth benefit from a more diverse and skilled workforce, driving innovation and competitiveness. Professional development opportunities also bridge gender gaps in leadership, promoting women's representation in decision-making roles.

By creating an environment that nurtures skills and leadership potential, organizations contribute to breaking barriers, ensuring equal access to growth opportunities, and ultimately strengthening the professional landscape for women in India.

Speaking on the topic, Sangeeta Shetty , introduced their Leadership development with WLAB (Women’s Leadership Advisory Board) which mentors high-potential women to help them advance in their careers.

She further said, “Gender diverse leadership and workforce is more likely to introduce innovative products and services – as they bring varied perspectives and foster innovation. Women leaders excel in collaboration. Donning several hats inherently, women are excellent leaders and people managers, naturally. Their inclusive approach can lead to more comprehensive solutions.”

Anti-Harassment Policies

Anti-harassment policies are crucial safeguards for women professionals in India. These policies establish a zero-tolerance stance against harassment, creating a safe and respectful work environment.

By clearly defining unacceptable behavior and outlining reporting mechanisms, these policies empower women to speak up without fear of retaliation. Implementation fosters a culture of accountability and deters harassment, promoting overall workplace well-being.

Women benefit from increased confidence, job satisfaction, and a sense of security. Moreover, organizations with robust anti-harassment measures attract and retain diverse talent, enhancing their reputation and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Anti-harassment policies are indispensable tools that protect and empower women professionals while fostering a healthy and inclusive workplace in India.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are transformative for women professionals in India. These initiatives cultivate a workplace that values varied perspectives, skills, and backgrounds.

By addressing gender disparities, organizations create equal opportunities for women, fostering career advancement and leadership roles. Inclusive workplaces enhance job satisfaction, productivity, and innovation.

Women benefit from a supportive environment that recognizes and appreciates their contributions, enabling them to thrive professionally. Diverse teams also lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

Overall, diversity and inclusion initiatives not only empower women professionals but contribute to a more dynamic and competitive business landscape in India, promoting equity and fostering a culture of acceptance and respect.

On the topic of inclusivity, Deepa Narayan adds, “Our Gender Affirmation Support Policy provides financial aid and leave for gender-affirming procedures, promoting inclusivity for all women, including those who are transgender or non-binary.”

She further explains, “We understand we have a long way to go, we’ve introduced a new multi-year global gender goal to reach 40% women-identifying and non-binary employees globally by the end of 2026.

Each year we also set representation goals tied to our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities. Last year, we began tying a portion of executive compensation to reaching these goals, which focus on driving greater women’s and URM representation.

We are designing inclusive processes and policies to better support and retain our underrepresented employees.”

Career Restart Programs

Career restart programs are instrumental for women professionals in India seeking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus. These initiatives provide a structured pathway for reskilling, mentorship, and gradual reintegration.

By addressing gaps in employment, they facilitate a smoother return, boosting women's confidence and competence.

Organizations offering career restart programs benefit from a diverse talent pool, harnessing the skills and experiences of returning professionals.

This approach not only counters career breaks but also contributes to gender diversity in the workplace.

Ultimately, career restart programs empower women, fostering their continued professional growth and ensuring a more inclusive and resilient workforce in India.

To this Sangeeta Shetty of Ascendion stated,  “We hire women from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and those with a career break, to build an inclusive environment and provide equal opportunities in the corporate world. Hiring women brings a wider range of viewpoints, leading to more creative solutions and better decision-making for the company.”

Companies like Salesforce also introduced programs like Return to Work, designed to assist women in re-entering the workforce after career breaks.

Deepa Narayan proudly shared, “Since its launch, the program has empowered over 100 women.”

Workplace Safety Measures

Workplace safety measures are critical for ensuring a secure environment for women professionals in India. These measures encompass physical safety, cybersecurity, and protocols addressing harassment.

Enhanced safety promotes a sense of well-being and confidence, positively impacting job satisfaction and productivity. Women benefit from a workplace culture that prioritizes their security, enabling them to focus on their roles without concerns for personal safety.

Implementing comprehensive safety measures also aligns with legal requirements, safeguarding organizations from potential liabilities.

Ultimately, creating a safe workplace fosters trust reduces turnover, and attracts top talent, contributing to a resilient and inclusive professional ecosystem for women in India.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are invaluable for women professionals in India, providing confidential resources for mental health, counseling, and personal support.

These programs offer a proactive approach to addressing stress, work-life balance, and emotional well-being.

Women benefit from access to professional guidance, reducing the impact of personal challenges on their professional lives.

EAPs contribute to a positive workplace culture by prioritizing employee mental health, increasing job satisfaction, and reducing absenteeism.

By fostering a supportive environment, EAPs enhance productivity and contribute to the overall resilience and success of women professionals in India.

Chhaya Sharma of axio, said,  “At axio, we are deeply committed to gender equality, offering equal opportunities and a secure work environment for all employees. All our policies are designed to create an environment of equality in the organization.

With regard to policies specifically for women, we support pregnant employees through initiatives such as cab allowances, work-from-home benefits, and a six-month maternity leave policy. We also offer paternity leave of one month.

Additionally, we offer tailored programs aimed at promoting financial independence, health, and safety, catering to the diverse needs of women in our workforce. Our upskilling programs are available to all our employees, but we have noticed that these have especially helped the women employees to build clear growth paths for their careers.”

In conclusion, the commitment of Indian companies to elevate and empower women in the workforce is commendable.

By implementing progressive policies, they are not only bridging gender gaps but also fostering environments where female professionals can thrive.

As we commemorate Women's Day, let's celebrate these initiatives, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping a more equitable and promising professional landscape.

Women's Day Workplace Insights