Shattering the glass ceiling
By IANS | Published: March 8, 2023 12:21 PM2023-03-08T12:21:08+5:302023-03-08T12:30:08+5:30
By Rajesh Khosla New Delhi, March 8 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) expects that a green economy could ...
By Rajesh Khosla
New Delhi, March 8 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) expects that a green economy could lead to the creation of 60 million jobs globally in 2032. The Indian Budget for 2023-2024 has allocated major resources towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2070 to supercharge the creation of a green economy. For India and the world to achieve a successful transition to a green industry, countries across the world will need to leverage their population capital. It will mean ensuring equal gender participation across the industry.
While the green, sustainability-oriented economy is based on inclusiveness, there is still a long way to go to ensure gender inclusion. The green economy often unintentionally adopts traditional industrial perceptions and ways of doing things. Chief among these is the typecasting of women being hired only for certain roles.
Green Jobs and Gender Equality Today
The data currently shows a gap where we don't see women employed in the green industry. For example, only 32 per cent of the renewable energy workforce comprises women, whereas utilities-based sectors see only 23 per cent of women in managerial or decision-making roles.
The green industrial sector often faces a major skill shortage to support its rapid rise. The gender gap within the sector begins at the talent acquisition stage itself. Studies have indicated that 62 women for every 100 men are considered for jobs requiring 'green talent.' Therefore, the talent acquisition requirements of the sector can be addressed at the hiring stage itself.
Numerous studies have shown that gender-inclusive workforces are better at innovation, risk management, problem-solving, and driving actual socioeconomic impact. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) studies of behaviour have shown that women are more likely to invest in promoting recyclable, eco-labeled, and energy-efficient products. These ingrained traits, along with their managerial, leadership, and problem-solving capabilities make them the perfect fit for an industry that needs to accelerate its efforts for a green environment.
Bridging the gender equality gap
The gap in gender equality in the green economy is not its own doing. Certain social prejudices and traditional thought have been instrumental in shaping the perception of women in the workplace over the ages. However, the spotlight placed on the green sector puts it in a unique position not only to spur environmental but also social changes. The green sector has the unequivocal ear of both policymakers and the population who have seen first-hand the negative effects of unsustainable growth. Therefore, when the green sector acts, it is likely that the larger socio-economic diaspora will follow suit.
A few interventions that the green sector can spur to increase gender equitability include investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and sustainability training initiatives. The number of women enrolling in STEM fields is as low as eight per cent. As technology is a cornerstone of the green economy, it means potential talent that can be leveraged by the sector is going unrealised. Also, it has been shown that women are unlikely to leave the STEM workforce as often as men. The green industry needs to work with academia to create avenues that specifically provide women with the opportunities to hone their skills, which helps remove the skill-to-employment gap.
Projecting women as change leaders will help since women have a closer relationship with natural resources. They are involved in the agricultural sector almost as much as men. In most cases, they are often the voice of reason for the protection of scarce resources. Highlighting the role of women in protecting the environment and contributing to sustainability will be key in creating a perception change regarding their role in the green economy.
The need for a social mindset change will contribute significantly towards achieving this objective. However, the need to sensitise the larger population towards women's capabilities in the workforce will be instrumental in creating actual change. It will need to shift the perception of women's traditional roles in society that women should only be employed in 'safe' professions.
The green economy can create a step-change revolution by bringing about policies and legislations that specifically promote and safeguard women's interests and growth within the workplace. Using its inclusiveness, accountability, and transparency, the sector can be the inflection point for the creation of a sustainable, socially inclusive ecosystem.
Investments in changing social perception will be key in breaking the barriers currently imposed on the entry of women into the green economy. Women are key to unlocking the potential of the green sector.
(Rajesh Khosla, President and CEO, AGI Glaspac)
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