IWD 2023: CashKaro Swati Bhargava shares pragmatic solutions for gender pay disparity
Swati Bhargava, a trailblasing entrepreneur and co-founder of India's largest cashback and coupon site, CashKaro, and the country's leading affiliate marketing platform, EarnKaro. Born and raised in Ambala, Haryana, Swati's journey has been nothing short of remarkable. From being selected for an international scholarship to presiding over the largest society at the London School of Economics, she has always made the most of every opportunity that came her way.
In 2013, Swati co-founded CashKaro with her husband Rohan Bhargava, and has since transformed it into a 100+ crore business with a customer base of over 15 million people. Her contributions to the growth of India's e-commerce and social commerce sectors have been significant and have helped place India on the global map. Not only businesses, she has also helped women in becoming financially independent and aware of their fiscal matters.
As International Women’s Day is just around the corner, People Matters got in touch with the co-founder of CashKaro and EarnKaro to find out solutions to some of the most pressing issues that plague the world of work, including income inequality, discrimination, bias, and much more. Swati shared insights and some pragmatic solutions to tackle such issues.
Excerpts from the interview:
How can women leaders assist in bridging the gender pay gap in India?
Bridging the gender pay gap in India is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Women leaders can play a crucial role in addressing this issue by advocating for policies that promote equal pay, supporting education and skill-building programs for women, and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here are some specific ways in which women leaders can help:
Advocate for policies that promote equal pay: Women leaders can use their platform and influence to push for policies that promote equal pay for equal work.
Support education and skill-building programs for women: Women leaders can support initiatives that provide education and skill-building programs for women, particularly those in marginalised communities. These programs can help women acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in higher-paying industries and positions.
Promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Women leaders can encourage companies to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture, where women are valued and have equal opportunities to advance. This can include promoting flexible work arrangements, providing mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, and implementing diversity training programs.
Lead by example: Women leaders can set an example for others by ensuring pay equity within their own organisations. They can conduct regular pay audits, ensure that hiring and promotion decisions are based on merit and not gender, and provide transparency around pay decisions.
Financial literacy is not common among women in India. How can leaders help women to become financially sound and independent, especially in the workplace?
Financial literacy is crucial for everyone, but it is particularly important for women in India who often face significant financial barriers and gender-based discrimination. To help women become financially sound and independent, leaders in the workplace can take the following steps:
Offer financial education: Employers can provide financial literacy training to their employees, especially women. This training can include basic budgeting, investment planning, and retirement planning.
Encourage savings: Employers can encourage women to save money by offering workplace savings plans.
Promote equal pay: Employers can ensure that women are paid the same as men for doing the same work. This can help women achieve financial stability and independence.
Provide support for work-life balance: Employers can provide support for women who may have caregiving responsibilities, which can make it difficult for them to achieve financial independence. This support can include flexible working hours, paid parental leave, and access to childcare.
Promote gender diversity: Employers can promote gender diversity in their organisations by hiring and promoting more women. This can help women to achieve financial independence by increasing their earning potential and opportunities for career advancement.
By taking these steps, leaders in the workplace can help women in India become financially literate, independent, and achieve their full potential.
Raising capital is more difficult for women-owned businesses. Have you ever faced such difficulty in the past? How did you deal with that situation?
I am sure there is a bias that exists when it comes to funding women founders, though I have personally never experienced the same. Investors are also in it to make money – if our businesses are a good investment opportunity for them, I believe they’ll still invest regardless of gender. I never think of myself as a woman entrepreneur - I am an entrepreneur and I am equally capable of delivering good returns to my investors.
Several female entrepreneurs feel that earning respect is a struggle in a male-dominated industry. What is your word of advice for budding leaders to tackle a situation like this?
For men, more often than not, career considerations revolve around finding the right job and the right firm. For women, it’s not just about that, but it’s also about fighting the stereotype, proving their worth, and stepping beyond the labels. Not to say that men have it easy, but women? They have more challenges to contend with. In many of the paths I took, I was the only woman — at Goldman Sachs, I was the only woman in the team along with seven men. You just need to hold your ground and know what you are doing to make the most of those experiences. My core advice to all women out there would be to let your work speak for itself, and give all your dedication and diligence to getting things done. Compromise where you can, but where you can’t, don’t.
What is the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day at workplaces?
The importance of celebrating International Women's Day is to recognise the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. Celebrating IWD at workplaces is essential as it promotes gender equality, diversity, and inclusion, which are critical factors in creating a healthy work environment. Here are some of the reasons why it is important to celebrate IWD at workplaces:
Recognition of women's contributions: IWD provides an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of women in the workplace. It helps to create a culture of appreciation and recognition that can lead to increased job satisfaction and motivation among female employees.
Promoting gender equality: Celebrating IWD at workplaces can help to promote gender equality by highlighting the importance of equal opportunities and fair treatment for women. It can encourage organisations to adopt policies and practices that promote gender diversity and eliminate discrimination and biases.
Creating awareness and education: IWD can be an opportunity to raise awareness and educate employees on gender-related issues such as the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination. By doing so, organizations can create a more informed and empathetic workforce.
Encouraging women's leadership: Celebrating IWD can also serve as an inspiration for women to take on leadership roles and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. By highlighting the achievements of female leaders, organizations can encourage more women to pursue leadership positions and create a more diverse and representative leadership team.
CashKaro maintains this ideology and has planned an exclusive campaign called #NotOrdiNari, a 2nd instalment from the previous year to specifically highlight the points mentioned above. Our team has curated a series of content in collaboration with several female entrepreneurs in India as well as women from our organisation, to bring inspiring stories to light.