E-Commerce Biz squeezing Jobs for Women, says report

Hinting the gender gap in the Indian startup landscape, a new survey has found that women constitute only 22% of the workforce in Indian startups.

The survey titled ‘Human Capital in The New Economy – Benchmarks And Best Practices 2019’ was conducted by Gurugram-based Trifecta Capital.  It sampled 45 new companies including Innoviti, Quikr and Big Basket which represented over 49,000 employees.

Why low women participation?

A key factor that brought out the gender disparity is the existence of large number of startups in India. Since majority of these companies deal with vertical e-commerce or consumer services, these are front-end delivery organizations with more male-oriented roles like that of delivery boys, operations, and customer service.

Akash Goel, a partner at Trifecta, said that there are thousands of delivery employees but ““no women come to deliver”. He added that in consumer services marketplaces too, like transportation providers Ola, the role is more male-oriented.

Will women get more opportunity?

The report suggests that the diversity usually improves when a company graduates to its Series B stage.

While the number of female employees (in startups) at Series A stage was found to be 19.9%, the same at Series B was 23.8%. However in the growth stages, female participation stood at 22.1%. A slight shrink at growth stage is seen as the companies begin to push large portion of the business toward delivery segment.

Women workforce and economy

An IMF report has said that raising women’s participation in the labour force can boost India’s GDP by 27 per cent. Many other studies also observed that India’s GDP can jump to 25% from 18% by simply according equal workplace opportunities to women.

In order to push the gender parity at workplace, India’s Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, was amended in March 2017. The amendment made way for a 26 week maternity leave, and asked larger companies (with more than 50 employees) to build creche facilities at office. It also asked big companies to arrange work from home option to new mothers.

Despite the law, the startups which say they would hire male employees instead of female employees have gone up. In 2017, 26% startups openly expressed their inclination to hire males, but in March 2019 this number stood higher at 42%.

How startups are hiring?

The study found that 80% of the startups prefer to recruit talent from other startups. It is because they prefer the employees who may be familiar with the startup culture. The funded startups also rely heavily on sales and operations employees.

Startups leverage the personal networks, internal referrals, and Linkedin connections in senior hiring across all stages of business. Though marred by a dearth of talent, a majority of startups are able to close positions for senior talent within 6 months.

The report is clearly hinting that the entrepreneurs in the country need to reconsider the grounds for women participation to make the startup ecosystem an all-inclusive sector.