As women in tech and women led MSMEs continue to struggle in male dominated areas, the ecosystem responds with #breakthebias action.
As we celebrate International Women’s month, we highlight the achievements that women have worked for and successfully gained. It hasn’t been easy though. That’s why support needs to come from an entire ecosystem often. Every action matters.
Read more: Women in business: Learnings & advice
For example, recently, Kaleidofin Pvt Limited, a neo banking platform for the underbanked segment proudly announced that its seven-member board now comprises four women board members.
“We are proud to be amongst the handful of companies that have a majority women board. Each of our board members bring in a variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experience that help us shape our decisions about our products and solutions. Each of our board member are strong role models for our women employees and further motivates them to believe in themselves,” Sucharita Mukherjee, CEO and Co-founder, Kaleidofin, said.
However, statistics still defy satisfaction.
Only 52% Women in Tech Said Employers Offer Training as a Benefit
Recently, Skillsoft, a corporate digital learning company, revealed in a report centered on the current state of women in tech in India that only 52% of women employed in tech said that their employers offer training as a benefit. This comes at a time when 76% of IT decision-makers report skills gaps on their teams, according to Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report.
“The percentage of women in the Indian IT sector has risen over the last decade. While the trend is promising, albeit gradual, in order to maintain momentum, women must be empowered with new opportunities to take on tech roles and provided access to continuous upskilling opportunities,” said Rashim Mogha, General Manager – Leadership and Business Portfolio, Skillsoft.
Per data collated by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, as of December 2021, India’s urban female labour force declined to 7.2% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — down from 9.5% in December 2019.
According to Skillsoft’s report, two-thirds of women in tech say men outnumber them at their organization for leadership roles at ratios of 2-to-1 or greater. This ratio is even higher for those working in tech companies (72%). Women have also identified top challenges in tech roles including lack of equity in opportunities (47%) and underrepresentation of women in the tech field (46%).
The percentage of women in the Indian IT sector has risen over the last decade. While the trend is promising, albeit gradual, in order to maintain momentum, women must be empowered with new opportunities to take on tech roles and provided access to continuous upskilling opportunities
Skillsoft’s 2022 Women in Tech Report – India Region was able to identify what women want from employers. When asked which employee benefits they value most, the second largest percentage (52%) cited opportunities for professional development/training, just behind health insurance (55%) and ahead of flexible work (49%) and maternity leave (48%).
42% of those surveyed cited the limited pipeline of women studying STEM in high school/college as a significant challenge in their industry, indicating the need for learning on-the-job.
When asked which tech-related areas respondents are most interested in learning about, these topped the list:
- Data Management (34%)
- Leadership And Management (33%)
- Project Management (32%)
- Programming Languages (29%)
- Cybersecurity (28%)
- Cloud Computing (28%)
Training opportunities are crucial levers of encouragement, second only to seeing an increase in women in tech-related leadership roles. Nearly 1 in 2 (~47%) women say that seeing more women in leadership roles would encourage others to pursue tech-related careers. 35% of women look for tech-related job fairs or networking opportunities from their organization.
Women Led MSMEs Say Raising Capital Remains Biggest Challenge
For women led MSMEs, raising capital remains the biggest challenge, Indifi Technologies, an Indian ecosystem-lending platform for MSMEs, found in a survey titled “Understanding What Women-Led MSMEs Want”. The number of women-led MSMEs in India has jumped from 2.15 lakh to 1.23 crore in just a decade. However, they face a finance gap of $158 billion and largely rely on informal sources.
To address some of the challenges, most entrepreneurs said they still rely on banks for their financing needs; but years of business operation, insufficient credit history, and lack of property ownership are the big hurdles when it comes to getting their loans sanctioned.
45% of the women entrepreneurs believe that having a male co-founder makes running the business easier. They also shared that the top 3 attributes that a male co-founder brought to the table in a business is, managing a team, interacting with vendors and clients, and securing capital/funds
The survey further uncovered that in terms of exploring digital lending alternatives, respondents believe that the lack of awareness and technical know-how is the reason why digital loans are not commonly explored as avenues for credit amongst other women entrepreneurs.
Further decoding the intersectional challenges through the gender lens; 45% of the women entrepreneurs believe that having a male co-founder makes running the business easier. They also shared that the top 3 attributes that a male co-founder brought to the table in a business is, managing a team, interacting with vendors and clients, and securing capital/funds.
Women entrepreneurs displayed a fair sense of comfort in using digital tools and the top use of digital technologies in their businesses was for internet banking, followed by social media marketing and using online marketplaces. In Indifi’s own findings from its customer base, 50% of the loans for women SMEs come from e-commerce, travel, and restaurant segments which heavily rely on digital technology for their operations.
The Ecosystem Responds
While these gaps are more a reflection of slow progress rather than no progress, the ecosystem is trying to #break the bias in various ways.
For example, Indifi has been enabling accessibility to credit through its verticalized and ecosystem-based approach by partnering with leading tech aggregators such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy, Google Pay, FirstData, and Banks & NBFCs as lending partners. By leveraging alternate data sets available in these leading tech aggregators, Indifi mitigates the underwriting challenges and enhances access to capital for micro MSMEs.
To further support women-led MSMEs, Indifi recently joined hands with Facebook in their Small Business Loans initiative, which extends a 0.2% reduction in the rate of interest to women-owned businesses.
Similarly, in a completely different sector, many companies associated with the delivery sector have been welcoming the increased female presence in the delivery fleet, and Indian EV logistics company, Zypp Electric is one of the companies that is working towards an inclusive future.
As women continue to become an integral part of the industry, it is important to put aside gender biases and have women working on the ground in male dominant roles like in the rider or technology team at Zypp
The company plans to expand its driver partner community to 25,000, and hire and train 3,000 women as delivery partners by the end of 2022. As part of #SheroesOnEV, Zypp will focus on skilling women to ride EVs and train them as delivery partners to #BreakTheBias in an otherwise male dominated profession.
Elaborating on the hiring plans, Rashi Agarwal, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, Zypp Electric said, “Being a working woman for 16 years now, I understand the importance of financial independence. Through Zypp, I have created a domain for myself, and I aim to create similar opportunities for women across in this sunrise sector.
“I believe that only an inclusive future is a sustainable future in any sector. As women continue to become an integral part of the industry, it is important to put aside gender biases and have women working on the ground in male dominant roles like in the rider or technology team at Zypp. We are committed to creating equal opportunities for both men and women to offer them a platform to transform their lives.”
Zypp also offers desired and flexible working shifts along with fair financial aid to women. The company has a pilot-friendly clause, where the rent of the vehicle is waived if the pilot is present for 28 days in a month. The company is also working on a long term goal to have at least 50% of the total employee strength to be women.
Not just work or entrepreneurship, women also face more challenges in social setting, the new face of which is the cyber world. Plan International Survey recently revealed new research that shows around 60% of women have been victims of online harassment, including abusive language and cyberbullying.
Keeping this mind, Triller, the AI-powered open garden technology platform for creators, announced a campaign #CommentBetter to empower the female creator community by providing them with a safe and healthy environment on its platform.
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Triller uses Amplify.ai. for its AI-powered comment moderation system, which hides inappropriate comments containing sexual content, hate speech, spam, graphic content, etc. across social media handles. Triller also has its content moderation system, which enables the company to monitor and moderate the content on the app to ensure it adheres to its community guidelines.
Triller’s AI screens more than 25,000 comments every day and 7.5 million every month on social media and acts against policy violations. According to brand data, the majority of these violations are aimed at female creators.
Rohan Tyagi, VP Operations and Strategy Triller India said, “Cyberbullying is a major issue on social content platforms these days. Women creators bear most of this burden on such platforms and are subjected to a host of nuisance online. At Triller, we aim to create an inclusive and healthy environment for our creators to express themselves freely and feel safe.
“Our team is working tirelessly to ensure that our community guidelines protect our users from such activities. With the AI prowess of Amplify.ai, we have been able to successfully implement content moderation on all of our external social platforms. With this campaign, we aim to spread awareness around these concerns and how it is very important to #CommentBetter.”