Stories of connection
By N. Venkatram
Managing Partner and CEO, Deloitte India
As a professional and the father of two daughters, I’ve taken a special interest in promoting developmental opportunities for women and girls in India. Our country has an acute need for programs that help girls and young woman realize their true potential and overcome a cycle of deprivation that starts for most when they’re young.
Excessive school dropout rates, underage marriage and limited access to relevant foundational and employable skills are just some of the factors that obstruct girls’ social and economic empowerment. Almost 118 million women, comprising 81% of the total women workers in India, are engaged either in unpaid work or in the informal economy. Most women in the workforce lack mentoring, linkages to networks and leadership opportunities and, on average, earn 25% less than men.
The convergence of these issues has caused the labor force participation of women in India to drop to 26% from nearly 37% a decade earlier. Reversing this trend not only would benefit women, but it also would unleash India’s economic potential. The International Monetary Fund suggests India’s growth could rise nearly 30% if women increased their workforce participation to be equal with men.
Closing the gender gap in India begins with businesses investing in high-impact solutions—initiatives that help young women access quality education and develop future-ready skills they’ll need to succeed in a new, more technologically advanced economy.
Through Deloitte’s organizationwide ambition called WorldClass, we aim to help 50 million people globally succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by connecting them to opportunities for education, skills development and jobs. In India, through grants, pro bono work, volunteering and engaging with nongovernmental organizations, Deloitte committed this past February to positively impact 10 million women and girls in my country by 2030.
I understand the distinct opportunities that opened for my daughters through quality education and access to networks. They were empowered to face a complex world and make key decisions about their lives. That’s why I was excited when Deloitte announced it would focus on making a difference in the lives of women and girls in India and connect them with the same opportunities that enabled my daughters to succeed.
WorldClass represents Deloitte’s commitment to combine its strengths in problem solving and professional development with its global reach and myriad relationships to address the world’s big challenges. It’s how we put our mindset to deliver meaningful societal impact into action.
When we connect people with opportunities, everyone benefits.