Indian women saw decline in non-inclusive behaviour at workplace, finds survey


Deloitte’s Women @ Work report reveals signs of progress across various parameters, but there’s still a lot of room for improving the workplace experience

A survey conducted by Deloitte on women in the workforce has found that working women in India saw a 10 percent decline in non-inclusive behaviour in 2023 as compared to the figures in 2022.

The report, titled ‘Women @ Work: A Global Outlook’ — now in its third year – surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries, including 500 in India across age groups, employment status, sectors, and seniority. While it found some signs of progress for women in the workplace, it also noted how several other factors have worsened since last year.

For instance, although there were fewer instances of non-inclusive behaviour and bolder younger generations, mental health and flexibility concerns remained high.

The Deloitte report said: “Reflective of the global trend, women in India experienced fewer non-inclusive behaviours in 2023 than in 2022. The instance fell by almost 10 percentage points to 48 percent. Amongst those who did experience such behaviour, reporting of microaggressions more than doubled. The most commonly experienced non-inclusive behaviour was being interrupted or talked over during meetings.”

The survey also found a sharp drop in women reporting a lack of exposure to leaders, or feeling excluded from meetings, decisions, and informal interactions.

However, while it is reassuring that women are reporting better hybrid working experiences than last year, an increasing number of women in India working in hybrid environments are also reporting a lack of predictability (28 percent now vs 15 percent in 2022) and flexibility (32 percent now vs 13 percent in 2022), as well as clarity around their employer’s expectations compared to last year.

For example, the proportion of respondents who said that they are expected to go into their workplace despite messaging about flexibility and it being their choice has jumped from 10 percent in 2022 to 36 percent now.

Commenting on these insights, Saraswathi Kasturirangan, Chief Happiness Officer, Deloitte India said, “Organisations need to address this flexibility, predictability and clarity deficit for sure, as this can adversely affect employee engagement and retention.”

This is because women continue to bear the greatest responsibility for childcare and household tasks. Although the global average findings are similar, a higher share of women in India report having to shoulder the primary responsibility for childcare, and cleaning and other domestic tasks (59 percent and 48 percent respondents in India vs 46 percent and 42 percent globally). The share of households where the load of childcare is equally split is much higher globally (34 percent) than in India (15 percent).

Another important aspect that came to the fore during the survey was health concerns. Many of the surveyed working women are experiencing health challenges related to menstruation and menopause. Among them, more than 33 percent report working through pain or symptoms related to menstruation and 18 percent work through symptoms related to menopause. Approximately, a quarter of women took time off for these reasons without disclosing it.

In conclusion, Deloitte’s Women @ Work report revealed several signs of progress across various parameters for working women, but added that there’s still a lot of room for improving the workplace experience.

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