With a larger domestic-work burden than men in the ‘work from home’ scenario, Indian women need more flexi-working options
Women’s participation in paid work in India, which was already one of the feeblest globally, is likely to have been dealt a severe blow by the pandemic. A recent Deloitte report Women@Work finds that a higher proportion of women in India than elsewhere have been considering quitting the labour force altogether. This is largely because of how work for women has changed during the pandemic, especially with work from home. With 78% of the India respondents claiming that they have had to shoulder a higher burden of chores and household management versus 66% of female respondents globally, the pressure on women’s professional lives is quite telling. In any case, historically, Indian women’s share in unpaid domestic and care work has been higher than their counterparts in most developed and comparator economies.
The Deloitte study found that 57% of the Indian respondents surveyed between November 2020 and March 2021 thought their career was not progressing as fast as expected, compared to 42% globally. Fewer Indian women saw their employer as supportive of women than their global counterparts. A lot of this has to do with working culture than remuneration; while 30% of Indian women said their employer provided higher financial support as compared to 22% of respondents globally, markedly lower proportions of the former felt their employer allowed greater flexibility in work and contributed to maintaining work-life balance with clear boundaries on working hours. The corporate and organised sector employers as well as the government have to draw the right lessons from the study; with a larger share of domestic responsibilities foisted on them than their male counterparts, they need significantly more flexi-working options.