India’s workforce comprises over 780 million individuals under the age of 35, a demographic that spends about one third of their lives at work. Yet, we rarely speak up about whether the work we do truly satisfies our aspirations, or the challenges we face. To nurture constructive conversations around decent working conditions, better opportunities for women as well as entrepreneurship, Youth Ki Awaaz co-hosted an #AwaazChat on Twitter along with the International Labour Organization India to talk about the #FutureOfWork. Here are the insightful and inspiring responses by our six amazing panelists!
1. What do millennials consider important when seeking out “ideal” workplaces, today?
An ideal workplace facilitates conversations, nurtures positivity amongst the workforce & has free wifi. Recently as per a new french law, employees don’t need to check work based email at home. Strict enforcement of labour laws is the least we expect. situation only getting worse. needs to change. For millennials today respect is more important. Today egos must not get hurt. And equality must be there.
2. You hire without resumes. How does that work? Are resumes redundant?
Your online avatar is a beautiful tapestry of thoughts & expertise. Why limit it to a piece of paper? Throw open a hackathon challenge to evaluate idea to execution, team dynamics, leadership traits. Resume ? Social media has democratized creation, distribution & consumption of content, that’s how I recruit. Unfortunately, in our society degree is asked first before skill to perform.
1. Tell us what led you to start your company JobsForHer?
Watching other qualified and experienced women, like me, lose their self-confidence after stepping away from illustrious careers, I vowed to help India’s women return to work in whatever way I could because we elevate the bottom-line for every company. Our experience and qualifications still matter, and don’t go to dust if we’re on a break. We come back better.
2. What can organisations do to encourage women to scale up in the career ladder?
Training and upskilling are necessary for every person to succeed in the workplace. We encourage every woman who joins our portal to do so. Women need more flexible working styles, telecommuting options,childcare and healthcare options.
1. Entrepreneurship can be stressful. What has been your journey with aspects like stress, failure & mental health?
The ability to manage one’s own psychology is the hardest aspect of entrepreneurship. Self doubt, insecurity, fear are natural. How you manage them is the difference between success and submission. I am the biggest example of self-doubt. My first reaction to everything is – I fucked up! It’s taken a lot for me to make this approach work for me, than bring me down. Writing about it and being transparent (and thus vulnerable) has been the biggest way how.
2. If a business does not work out, does it mean the entrepreneur has failed?
In whose eyes? We fear failure not because of failure, rather what will people think about it. We are so bogged down by the world’s definition of success and failure that we fail to define it for ourselves. Only you can call yourself a failure, should you want to. I know I have never failed in life. I have lost yes – several times – more than I wanted. But I have never failed. Failure to me is giving up the urge to learn and compete.
1. What inspired you to start your organisation Azaadi?
I fought my case of workplace sexual harassment at @greenpeaceindia (GP) in 2015. Apathy, lack of due processes really shook me. GP’s response was ‘damage control’ not real support, just like many organisations. Anti harassment approach is reactive not proactive. Despite public scrutiny, GP HR said ‘victim wasn’t angel herself’ which was shocking from an NGO. No one has to go through this. Women in the workplace don’t have enough support, visibility, protection. I had to do something.
2. How are organisations responding to complaints by women who report sexual harassment?
Mixed = Some are supportive, some absolutely apathetic. More than orgs, dealing with colleagues is a massive challenge. Many org committees not aware of roles and duties. Confidentiality clause becomes a joke. Gossips and rumors. Career threats. Top management is all male. We are allowed to challenge CEO or MD? But victims don’t want this trouble. Changing jobs is easier!
Institution has to assert zero tolerance + walk the talk. Support from colleagues is a must. Many organisations also want to resolve issues instead of filing complaint. They insist apology should be enough. Not my #FutureofWork.
1. What were some of the top challenges you faced as an entrepreneur?
Hiring, setting the right culture and investment funding were key challenges.
2. What have been your experiences of starting an app, given your non-tech background?
Not having in-depth expertise means you have to get the right team onboard, trust them enough to deliver. Miss out on tech Research & Development. Investors may have an issue considering the plug of the machine is not in your hand. High employee turnover can become a problem.
1. What are the top benefits of doing an internship in today’s economy?
1.It prepares you for real world and improves your job prospects.
2. Helps you discover your passion and learn new skills.
3. Earn a stipend – the feel of your first income can’t be described in words.
2. Some companies exploit interns. What are the red flags students must watch out for?
Yes, and it’s unfortunate. Things to watch out for:
1. No digital presence (website/founder LinkedIn profile etc.
2. Asking for a training fee or security deposit.
3. Trying to get free work done in name of hiring assessment.
4. Hiring without interview or assessment.
5. No formal offer letter and no clarity on stipend or role.
6. Poor experiences of previous interns – go through Internshala blog, Quora, or Google.
3. Thanks for the helpful pointers! What should students keep in mind in the search for “meaningful” internships?
A meaningful internship is the one that helps you advance your career. Before applying for an internship, check this list:
1. Will I be working on real projects (or just fetching coffees)?
2. What are the learning opportunities in this internship? 2. Will it help me learn new skills?
3. Will it help me identify if this career option is meant for me or not?
4. Will it help me build my profile for higher studies (if you’re planning so) and build my network for future jobs?
As the chat picked up, influential Twitterati including UN Women India, journalist Ammara Ahmed, and non-profit professional Sudeshna Mukherjee, also joined offering several diverse perspectives, elevating the conversation to a whole new level. We thank them and everyone else who joined in!
— Sudeshna Mukherjee (@sudeshna09) January 18, 2017
— The Cake Official (@thecakeofficial) January 18, 2017
— UN Women India (@unwomenindia) October 25, 2016
— ILO India (@ILONewDelhi) January 18, 2017