“The average female employment in urban areas of India in 2021 was 6.9% lower than in 2020 and 22.1% lower than in the pre-pandemic year, 2019. India has experienced longer periods of school closures than other countries.

Lean In initiative: International Women’s Day would be incomplete without mentioning some incentives that have worked to empower women and help them break down barriers. One such initiative is Lean In, which was co-founded by Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg. The initiative’s mission is to help women achieve their ambitions by bringing them together so that they can learn from each other. The foundation was launched after Sheryl published her book Lean In, in which she spoke about personal stories, highlighted gender differences using research, and offered advice to women to help them achieve their goals. . The foundation works by facilitating the formation of small communities, called Lean In Circles. The underlying idea is that although women have to bend down and face challenges to achieve their ambitions, they need someone to rely on. Since the professional space is still full of biases and gender barriers, these circles aim to act as safe spaces where women can talk to each other and share their struggles, while giving and receiving meaningful advice and celebrating. other people’s victories, much like a support group. These circles can be made up of any women, whether women who already know each other or who have met through the Lean In community, and they mainly meet once a month. Anyone can create a circle and lead it. According to the organization, these circles are also great for career advancement as they also encourage skill development. So far, more than 50,000 circles have been created in 188 countries with the help of Lean In, the platform said.

Urvee Juneja is the Chapter Leader for Lean In India. For more than 5 years, she has been working to support women in achieving their professional ambitions. She was invited by Sheryl to represent India at the Lean In Regional Leaders meeting in California. Urvee is a senior strategist with multi-sector exposure across banking, technology, aviation and life sciences. She has worked in the UK, US and India and led strategy functions at Citi, ICAP and ADP in New York. Urvee is currently the Global Transitions Leader for the Life Sciences portfolio at Genpact and leads digital transformations and transitions for the Life Sciences portfolio. On International Women’s Day, FinancialExpress.com spoke with Urvee Juneja about the situation of women in India’s workplaces, the impact of the pandemic on work-life balance of women and how Lean In contributes to creating an egalitarian world. Excerpts:

What is the situation of women in Indian workplaces?

Not only have more women lost their jobs than men during the pandemic, but also fewer women are returning to work. The number of women actively seeking employment each month fell by 3 million between 2019 and 2021, according to the latest bulletin from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and the Center for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA). CMIE data shows that urban India had 22.1% fewer women employed in 2021 than in 2019, according to a recent survey. Average female employment in urban areas of India in 2021 was 6.9% lower than in 2020 and 22.1% lower than in the pre-pandemic year 2019. India has experienced longer periods of school closures than other countries. Trying to manage household chores alongside homeschooling and caring for children and the elderly has hurt women’s participation in the labor market. In addition, the gender gap in education and skills, the burden of unpaid work, and the lack of security and freedom of mobility negatively affect women’s morale. There is a need for India to find ways to recognize and institutionalize the sharing of care work between men and women, reduce the gender pay gap and actively work towards creating a level playing field and without violence so that its women can flourish and become leaders in the field. the economy.

How does Lean In help women achieve their ambitions and work to create an equal world?

Lean In is a community founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that empowers women to achieve their ambitions and promotes inclusion in the workplace. Lean In India is the official national chapter of Lean In in India. Lean In India aims to help encourage more women to take up leadership positions, through peer circles, campaigns, collaborations and events. Our goal is to – “Increase the representation of women in the workforce by empowering and empowering them.” It’s about helping solve challenges as women try to advance in their careers and creating more inclusive workplaces where women of all identities are supported and empowered. Lean In runs awareness programs such as “50 Ways to fight Bias” – an initiative that helps women fight the biases they face at work, the “IamRemarkable” workshop – a Google initiative that strives to empower women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace and beyond to change the perception of self-promotion. Lean In is also very committed to the concept of “circles” – small groups of women who come together to share experiences, learn new skills and encourage each other. India has over 400 such circles nationwide with a membership base of over 4,000. Lean In India, in particular, focuses on running campaigns such as “Leadership Series” – a campaign that brings leaders from different walks of life to share their life stories and words of wisdom, “Restart Your Career” – aimed to help women get back to business post sabbaticals, ‘Lend and Rise’ – to mentor and coach mid-level men and women in business. Also, Lean In India partners with companies to run company circles and help employees in the workplace lean to help them grow and evolve. Simple but concrete Lean In initiatives around the world help fight inequality and move towards a more equal world.

Has the pandemic made it harder for women to maintain a work-life balance with telecommuting?

Work-life balance is becoming increasingly important in dealing with the COVID demon, as it has upended all of our routines. Women are working double and triple shifts to meet their new normal. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important and critical to maintain our productivity as we all try to put a method to this chaos. Due to the roles of men and women in our society (both nationally and internationally), the primary responsibility of being caretakers falls on women and these responsibilities affect women’s working lives more than they affect the men’s professional life. The blurring of lines between work and personal space only makes it harder for us women as our homes become the new offices.

It is not easy to manage a demanding career with a happy family life. All over the world, working women are walking a tightrope trying to juggle the demands of work and family. It’s like juggling many balls and having our share of good, bad and bad times – some days you’ll eat the tiger for lunch and other days the tiger will eat you. I’ve had my share of struggles and still deal with bouts of stress trying to raise 2 daughters while working from home. Flexible working hours, reasonable deadlines and a culture of empathy are becoming increasingly important in finding harmony between our personal and professional lives.

Urvee Juneja, Section Head, Lean In India

Tell us about your background, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

After my masters. I started my career in a company in the UK. And then, by chance, I made the transition to New York after about 3 years in the UK. I’ve worked with companies like ADP and Citi in New York doing strategy for them and worked my way up the corporate ladder. And then life decided to throw a curveball at me after about a decade in the US and we as a family decided to make the transition to India. I had just had my 2nd daughter and decided to take a little break to make sure I settled in well in India before embarking on my next visit. I chose a strategic role in a start-up offering technological solutions in the field of aviation (which I had never done before). Then, in my quest to do bigger and better things in my life, I decided to move on to a leadership opportunity with Genpact, a leader in digital transitions and transformations for their life sciences portfolio. As a passion project, I’m also a chapter leader for Lean In India – an organization by Sheryl Sandberg that helps women achieve their professional ambitions by planning events, campaigns and peer-to-peer meetings. It’s my 2 cents back to the community to help other women around me who aspire to do something in life.

I would say it was a pretty bumpy ride to get to where I am today. When I transitioned to the United States, I had to stay home for several months before my work permit could be obtained and I could return to the workforce. But my spirit of never dying allowed me to go to a new place, a new country and a new environment and finally things started to fall into place when I got my work visa and my first job. in the USA. Then came motherhood and we all understand that it has its challenges – my little one has been sick several times, managing her kindergarten schedule, dealing with household chores as well as a demanding role weighed on me a lot, but I kept going despite that thought of quitting crossed my mind many times. And then the stability didn’t last long when we as a family decided to move to India. Settling in India took its time. If that wasn’t enough, my first stint in India in the aviation industry made me realize that I was in a heavily male-dominated industry and for all those meetings with people in the industry, I was the only woman in the room. However, that didn’t stop me from dreaming big. I started bending over and it helped me stay engaged in whatever I was doing.

I really wanted to step into a role that involved being at the forefront of the industry – the digital world fascinated me and I so wanted to be part of the digital growth story. So, I got ready, I put my game in place and I used my network and my experience to play a dream role in a Genpact. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade but sometimes you have to let go and trust before your heart gives you the recipe, so that’s exactly what I did.


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