It is easy to talk about enabling women in organisations and hope change comes through promoting women-friendly HR policies and flexible work schedules. But can there be freedom without financial freedom? How are we recognising the difference in the definition of financial freedom for men and women? The article delves deep into these burning questions.
The past year has seen women going above and beyond every expectation – whether it is the first woman founder of a unicorn or the first Indian woman cricketer to be conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
How do women do it all? Simple, when you’re trapped in a box, you’re forced to shatter the glass ceiling. For decades, women have been accustomed to doing more than what’s asked and aiming higher than what is expected. Women are surrounded by environments that constantly need them to prove that they are capable, that they are worthy, and that they are enough.
In memoirs and testimonials, the days of sweat and triumph sound romantic and seem motivating, but in reality, these conditions not only discourage you, but they also gnaw at your self-confidence and independence. We often read autobiographies and speak of doing what great leaders do – following success mantras of the chosen ones on the other side of the fence – but we are rarely ever paying attention to how the environment that these champions had to fight to overcome has failed so many others that couldn’t make it. We laud the ones that win, without questioning why the competition was built the way it was in the first place.
Something similar is the point to be noted here. We sing praises on marquee days of the women in the workforce that drive our organisations to glory, we applaud their sacrifice and offer gratitude for their grit and yet we fail to acknowledge the loopholes of the system that forces them into the circumstances.
“We sing praises on marquee days of the women in the workforce that drive our organisations to glory, we applaud their sacrifice and offer gratitude for their grit, and yet we fail to acknowledge the loopholes of the system that forces them into the circumstances.”
Workplace policies often talk about enabling women in organisations. We talk of promoting women-friendly HR policies and flexible work schedules, maternity leaves, and addressing the biggest challenge of today – the gender wage gap. The burning question is, how are we recognising the difference in the definition of financial freedom for men and women?
When we make the argument of paying women what they deserve, we talk of providing them not just what they need but more so what they are more than capable of. For years, women in Indian households have been actively omitted from conversations around finances. There is no generational wisdom passed down for women on why they should seek and achieve their own financial freedom, let alone how to do it. In today’s world, women have learnt the importance of the former but lack in the latter.
Brought up in environments that make these conversations uncomfortable, the workplace forms an integral part of the system as the enabler of financial freedom for women to also help them achieve it. Most women contribute their income to the household and are left with nothing to themselves because they are unaware of the importance of investing over saving.
Mentoring and support from women in higher management can form the foundation of the safe space they need to discuss their financial woes. It is the leadership that needs to step in to provide an environment that makes it easier for those that follow in their footsteps.
Once the safe space is incorporated for women to feel comfortable in discussing finances, workshops need to be conducted regularly for familiarisation. Your finances are much more than “fixed deposits and taxes”. Another way of achieving familiarisation with finances in the workplace is issuing newsletters and knowledge materials before tax filing. Most women until the very end do not even know how to file their own taxes, relying on the male members of the family to do it for them. When we can earn our own money, we can manage it by ourselves too, all we have to do – is take that first step.
“Mentoring and support from women in higher management can form the foundation of the safe space they need to discuss their financial woes. It is the leadership that needs to step in to provide an environment that makes it easier for those that follow in their footsteps.”
We tend to let fear delay what time demands us to do today. By the time we realise our faults, time has already taught us the lesson. The pandemic brought in a crucial wave of this understanding when many were forced into crippling debt and a grave misfortune. Mediclaim, creating an emergency corpus and having family members as nominees are personal finance 101, but are often easily overlooked. In times of grieving death, many women have had to step up as sole breadwinners of the family and had to manage tumultuous responsibilities at the same time. Many organisations have come forward in these unprecedented times to the aid of their employees, and such practice should be the norm for good. Having policies for widows and single mothers are key in creating a financially inclusive environment as it helps women gain the confidence of staying steadfast on their feet.
Also read: Women In Tech: Time To Normalise Them
Back-to-work and work-from-home policies that cater to the unique needs of young mothers help them strike a better balance between their new life and work to provide the best version of themselves in all environments.
In the end, what matters is how well we observe and truly understand the needs of women in the workplace. Maybe then, we can make the glass box a little bigger and instead of one woman’s might, it can be the collective power of all to break the ceiling together.
Year of incorporation: 2020
Number of employees: 30
Name of the founders: Priti Rathi Gupta
Business line: Community-led fintech platform exclusively for women (product: financial services )
Hiring pipeline: Content, growth & digital marketing, product
Workforce pie across departments (in percent):
Community & Marketing – 40 percent
Product & Tech – 40 percent
Operations & Support – 20 percent
Key HR differentiating factors like diversity, ESOPs: An organisation by the women for women. (90 percent female workforce)