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Portal Exclusive: How to prepare the Indian women workforce for Industry 4.0

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2019

As women have a higher sense of responsibility, offering more entrepreneurial opportunities to them with new digital initiatives will bridge the gender gap, write Kamlesh Vyas and Vertika Gupta Deloitte India

The work is visibly changing with the exponential increase in the use of technology, leading to a changing workplace and the rules governing it. Digital disruption has led to a change in organisations’ DNA. While employers have been, since long, trying to reach the goal of gender equality in the workplace, the digital revolution along with its multi-faceted challenges and opportunities, has given the organisations a way for strengthening the foundations of gender equality. The advent of Industry 4.0 characterised by the digital revolution is set to improve female participation in economic life and enhance the economic and social autonomy of women in many ways.  The tech influx of mobile and digital offers women the potential to bypass some of the traditional, cultural, and mobility barriers. Technology is enabling women to access new areas, work flexibly and remotely, acquire and interact with customers, receive training and provide mentoring, improve financial autonomy and access finance for their ventures.

While this digital revolution has the potential to tip the current imbalance and help attain the goal of gender equality, the burden still lies with organisations and society at large to develop and promote women education in STEM fields. However, gender equality does not begin at the workplace; it should be rooted in our education system as well. To play their part, organisations are likely to promote jobs that will strongly rely on complementarities between social and emotional intelligence and abstract (or cognitive) skills acquired through higher education such as creativity and critical thinking.

‘From Jobs to Super jobs’- one of the key trends reported in the ninth issue of Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey 2019 indicates the rise of hybrid jobs in the near future. Technology has shown us that hybrid jobs create new jobs that combine technical and social/soft skills. Jobs such as creative technologists, business analysts, data scientists with nano degree accreditation are a leading trend and emerging opportunity area for women workforce.
Women quite often possess superior social skills, and these skills can expect increasing rewards in labour markets in the digital age. Such social skills are often a feature of women-dominated jobs and they include, for instance, a heightened sense of responsibility towards the wider community, greater empathy, more effective communication, and a greater willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Another aspect for women to realise their full potential in the digital age is the need to target current gender gaps. Gender imbalances can effectively be addressed by means of providing more entrepreneurial opportunities with the deployment of new digital initiatives. For example, a mobile application that assists women in becoming health entrepreneurs or training via digital platforms on small-scale businesses, turbocharging new women entrepreneurs.
 
Organisations with significant female representation in decision-making positions have better governance styles, drive more creative and diverse innovation processes by promoting ideas that are more likely to meet customers’ needs, and deliver considerable financial benefits, according to some studies. If companies develop policies targeted at promoting gender equality such as hiring, promotion and turnover initiatives to help break the glass ceiling, the technology industry could reach 36% of female representation at the executive level in 2022, compared to 33% in the “baseline scenario” where no changes to current trends are implemented.
 
A survey by Deloitte Human Capital trends survey report 2019, which involved responses from over 10,000 respondents spread across 119 countries, has shown that the world is charging towards more flexible working and alternative workforce—this being the top human capital trend for the year. The alternative workforce includes contractors, independent staff, and freelancers. There can be a broad range of opportunities that can be created for women who by choice want to go on flexible working schedules due to the traditional double burden syndrome.
 
In summary, Industry 4.0 is a reinvention of skills, unleashing the entrepreneurial potential for women and shifting towards a more diverse community. Armed with technology and with the winds of change on our side, this digital revolution could very well be guiding organisations towards making gender equality in the workplace a reality. Viva la digital revolución!
 
Information for the editor for reference purposes only.
 
(The authors are partner, and senior manager, Deloitte India)

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