Article: 4th Gender Equality Summit 2021 - Day 1 Highlights

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4th Gender Equality Summit 2021 - Day 1 Highlights

GCNI’s 4th Gender Equality Summit in India brought distinguished leaders on a single platform to reaffirm the global commitment towards developing a strong India roadmap towards gender equality by discussing policies, leadership, gender specific initiatives and technology that can enable women to recover and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
4th Gender Equality Summit 2021 - Day 1 Highlights

A national platform for leaders to make a difference

The summit provided for a national platform for the bevy of leaders to explore pathways towards gender inclusive outcomes in society and specifically, the workforce. The summit, aligned with the principles of the Sustainable Development frameworks that calls for greater levels of coordinated involvement from the Governments, private sector, not-for-profit and communities, as drivers and enablers of societal change, through collective purpose for inclusive employment and growth opportunities for women to emerge as leaders of tomorrow. 

In his welcome speech. Uddesh Kohli, Governing Council Member, GCNI, discussed how the adversity of women’s situations has to be converted into cognitive opportunities.

Vaishali Sinha, Chair, GCNI GES 2021 Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power & Founding Chair, ReNew Foundation, highlighted the women’s digital divide. She highlighted that there’s a need to trigger a domino effect for wider impact in the business world. She emphasized that women have to be at the heart of developing strategies; that they need to be ‘atmanirbhar’ and have ‘atmavishwas’. Self-reliance is the key element to increase the participation of women and she called for the government’s support for the cause.

In his presidential address, Shashi Shanker, President, GCNI & Chairman, ONGC Group of Companies, said that women need to monetize their skills to create a lasting impact on the workforce. He highlighted that everyone needs to reflect on the actions of the past year and focus on sustaining the women workforce.

Smriti Irani, Union Cabinet Minister, Ministry of Women & Child Development, GoI & Ministry of Textiles, addressed everyone by acknowledging Vaishaili’s call for breaking the digital divide. She talked about the government of India’s “Disha’ initiative and how the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ is utilized for Indian women’s greater good. She also mentioned that the one stop crisis centers have been created in over 70 districts in India which have helped over 3 lakh women all over the country.

The baton was passed to Viral Thakker, Partner, Deloitte India, who addressed the theme of the summit by discussing the impact COVID-19 had on the women workforce. He stated through an UN study that 60% women were impacted on work globally. He acknowledged the disproportion that the women workforce is facing and shared that through the ‘COVID-19 and New Gender Equations’ report developed by GCNI and Deloitte together, they are creating a roadmap for them. 

The next session was headed by Sarah Ferguson, India Country Representative, UN Women. She talked about how women have not been able to get jobs they lost in comparison to men, which she herself considered as a disaster. She appreciated the Indian government for creating stimulus packages for the women workforce and for taking initiatives to secure their future.

Ashu Suyash, MD & CEO, CRISIL addressed in her keynote the importance of retaining women workforce and encouraging them to rise to the challenge. She also talked about not letting COVID-19 be the dampener and said that instead, the government should focus on adding more women to the labor force to kickstart India’s GDP growth.

The summit’s special address was given by Olajobi Makinwa, Chief, Intergovernmental Relations & Africa, UN Global Compact, who talked about bridging the gap between action and impact for progress of gender diversity, gender parity and sustainable development. 

The speaking session was concluded by Shabnam Siddiqui, Executive Director, GCNI, who thanked all the esteemed speakers and wished everyone for their future endeavors.

Plenary Discussion: Driving forces of change: Striving for an equal future from a gender lens

Gender equation has been a challenge for businesses since the dawn of technology. The context keeps on changing when seen through the lens of perspective. The wagon of change is still on the roll. Hence, the 4th Gender Equality Summit took the initiative to assemble leaders like Amir Modi, MD, Modi Enterprises; Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India; Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson & CEO, Salesforce India; and Ashish Kumar Chauhan MD & CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange to identify the driving forces of change.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief at People Matters where the focus was on gender perspective, prioritizing people, WFH putting additional pressure on people management and more.

The panel talked about identifying courageous leaders and leveraging technology to deliver D&I policies. Examples that were discussed included culture, leadership and how tech can help scale that commitment not just in HR but beyond the horizon.

The progression of women leaders starts from recognizing empathy and as the session deep dived into breaking the barriers of stereotypes, D&I gender neutral benefits came up as one of the possible solutions. 

TGE CEO Roundtable

Target Gender Equality is a Gender Equality Accelerator Program for participating companies of the UN Global Compact. Through facilitated performance analysis, capacity building workshops, peer-to-peer learning and multi-stakeholder dialogue at the country-level, Target Gender Equality will support companies engaged with the UN Global Compact in setting and reaching ambitious corporate targets for women’s representation and leadership, starting with the Board and Executive Management levels.

Themed around progress of women and the overall Gender gap, the TGE CEO Roundtable had leaders like Ann Carin, Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard; N S Bala, CEO - APMEA, Wipro; Dr. Marcia Balisciano, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility, RELX Group; Ashwin Yardi, CEO, Capgemini Technology Services India and Amanda Ellis, Director, Global Partnerships, ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability who shared their expert opinions and experience about what Gender Equality means to them and how they are driving it differently in their respective areas. 

The session delved deeper into the specifics of how collaborative efforts towards building an inclusive learning culture is supremely important in narrowing down the gap and aiming for the 50-50 planet. The progressions in having women leaders on the leadership positions was also one of the major discussion pointers from the session. 

Fireside Chat: Diversity with opportunity

This interesting fireside chat focused on seeing diversity as an opportunity to grow out from the traditional stigmas about biases and stereotypical approaches via various parameters. The conversation took place between Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust and Vaishali Sinha, Chair, GCNI GES 2021, Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power & Founding Chair, ReNew Foundation wherein Neerja reflected upon thoughts like how important it is to take personal ownership of the situations and how difficult is it to be a caregiver in today’s world. The fireside chat ended with an interesting rapid-fire interview. 

The first day of the summit was engrossing and educational for the attendees and with a lot to take in and ponder. Stay tuned for the updates of Day 2 of the 4th Gender Equality Summit 2021.

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Topics: Diversity, Culture, #ChooseToChallenge

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