It’s a matter of celebration because we have come a long way, but also a matter of resolving as there is a lot more to do, Chanda Kochhar said.

Important for women not to give up work when they start families Chanda Kochhar at GESTwitter / NITI Aayog
Atom Global Summit Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 13:21

“Women are very strong but while a lot of women join the organisation, it’s also equally important for them not to give up and continue through that biggest life stage point where they start their families.”

This is what ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar said during a panel discussion on Wednesday on the second day of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad. 

She was accompanied by Ivanka Trump, the daughter and advisor of US President Donald Trump, who is the chief guest. 

Other panellists included Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao, Cherie Blair, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, CBE, QC, Founder, and Karen Quintos, Dell EMC, Chief Customer Office. 

Image courtesy: Twitter /GES 2017

On whether organisations are doing enough for women, she said, “I think organisations are doing a lot. First of all, what most organisations now in India are doing is encouraging more and more women to join the organisation. Secondly, they are creating a very merit-oriented environment which means that people are confident. Women are confident that if they put in the hard work and they are capable enough, they will get their rightful move in the organisation.”

“For the specific life stage needs, at least what the ICICI has done is that we have created a whole programme where women can actually work from home over a longer period and not lose out on their career progression. We have also started this thing where if women who have children up to 3 years of age, travel overnight for work, we pay for the accompanying child and the accompanying caretaker. I think these are the things that need to be done to really meet that specific life stage need,” she said. 

She said that it’s a matter of great celebration because we have come a long way, but also a matter of resolving as there is a lot more to do. 

Not even 25% of graduate women in India participate in the workforce, according to a McKenzie study.  

“India still fares much better than many countries in the world. It's a wide spectrum - there isn't another country where you have 100 million families impacted by the self-help groups of which 85% are women,” she said.   

She added, “India’s economic structure is changing. It is more than just a manufacturing and services economy. It's becoming an entrepreneurship economy, which gives women more and more enablement to create a niche in their careers. And what bigger testimony than to see that India has produced sportswomen to get us medals in gymnastics and wrestling. Today, India has women fighter pilots in the air force. India has a defence minister who is a lady. There is no other country where 40% of the banking sector is headed by women.”  

On the initiatives which ICICI has taken, she said it trains 1,00,000 youth every year of which 55% are women. Education, encouragement, empowerment - these are the 3 important Es for women. 

Chanda Kochhar said a couple of policies that the company has started are: “It allows women who need to take care of elderly parents to work form home for an extended period. Create a work environment with the use of technology where their systems are linked online with our systems.We use face recognition technology to ensure that when a woman is working, if there are other people crowding around the system, the computer shuts off automatically. All these things give the feel of a real working environment at home.”

”If people ask me what special policies we have to encourage women, we actually don't have any special policies for women. The only special thing we do is to create that environment where women feel confident that it is on the basis of their merit that they will rise,” she said. 

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