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Maintaining a balanced workforce in Pakistan

Even though the economic benefits of employment of women are numerous, Pakistan has a very low level of women workforce participation. Did you know that more women working increases a nation’s output and is an important contributor to household income? Women have less access to resources and less attention is given to addressing gender equality. However, recent studies indicate that when women control resources, more of those resources are devoted to family welfare— especially nutrition, education and health— than when men control the resources.

Pakistan’s low rate of women literacy is an obstacle to workforce participation. But as education levels rise, labor force participation must also rise for Pakistan to capture fully its return on investment in girls’ education. Creating employment for women in a country with high unemployment rates, in some areas as high as 40%, is an obstacle. Policymakers express concern that increasing women workforce participation would raise unemployment levels.

Ensuring gender equality in the workplace

  • Be flexible with the work/family balance
    According to the fourth annual Women in Finance Survey (WFS), just 13% of respondents said that it was entirely possible to balance work and personal life in your career.  Thinking that women cannot focus on work due to family responsibilities is a false perception. Not all women are like that. Offering them with flexibility and providing paid maternal leaves will surely attract them to work. Companies should launch support initiatives for mothers who do not have strong support networks outside of the workplace.
  • Look beyond the board
    Women should be fairly represented throughout a company. Set annual targets for recruiting and promoting women at all levels, from graduate trainees to vice-presidents to board executives. Merge this in to the performance targets of senior management to ensure your top employees are all heading towards the same goal.
  • Maintain momentum
    Encourage women and identify what training women staff misses out on when they are on maternity leave or career breaks, and make up the shortfall when they return. If they are to have a successful career, it is imperative that they don’t lose momentum, both from your organisation’s standpoint and for their own levels of confidence.
  • Measure performance consistently
    Women are harder working than men. They have the ability to be more efficient and organized at work. Review and appreciate their performances on a monthly basis. This will make them feel productive and involved in the organization.

The several factors that contribute to gender inequality are:

  1. Undervaluation of women’s work
  2. Women’s intermittent career paths
  3. Expectations that women must balance work and family life
  4. Legal and traditional restrictions or prohibitions against women engaging in certain types of work
  5. Women having little financial security and few social benefits
  6. Women being not as available for full-time work due to greater family responsibilities
  7. Women having less say in decision-making within and outside the household
  8. Women not being considered equal in a working relationship
  9. And gender based violence and security issues

How does gender equality help an organization?

Gender equality attracts top talent
A workplace that is equally appealing to women and men will provide businesses access to the entire talent pool.  As women are increasingly more highly educated than men, a workplace that is not attractive to women risks losing the best talent to competitors.

Companies perform better
Among other reasons, diversity brings together varied perspectives, produces a more holistic analysis of the issues an organization faces and spurs greater effort, leading to improved decision-making. Having a gender-balanced, engaged workforce that reflects a consumer base is a critical element of a company’s long-term growth strategy.

Improves productivity and competitiveness
The World Economic Forum has found a strong correlation between a country’s competitiveness and how it educates and uses its women talent.  It states: “…empowering women means a more efficient use of a nation’s human talent endowment and… reducing gender inequality enhances productivity and economic growth. Over time, therefore, a nation’s competitiveness depends, among other things, on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent.”

What next?
The empowerment of Pakistani women is a gradual process. There is a strong need to change people’s perceptions regarding their environment and gender roles. Women will have free mobility and easily access to information if they do not feel that their physical safety or reputation is threatened outside their homes.

Organizations should build support programs and provide access to role models (men and women), networks and mentors (men and women) to help women middle and senior-level managers to overcome perceived obstacles and to succeed in reaching board positions. These networks can support the career development of senior-level women managers and provide an opportunity for women directors to share experiences and forge new business relationships.

The proportion of women in management positions increased from 39% in 2011 to 41% in 2012. After a decade of steady improvement, achieving an increase of more than 1% shows progress – but there is still a long way to go.

Government efforts, projects and policies must concentrate on increasing women enrollment and retention in schools, and getting employment opportunities and involvement in the public sphere. Improvement in women’s education and skills will increase their ability to find employment and participate in paid labour.

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In today’s world, a woman workforce is just what is needed to drive any company to success. Countless studies have proven that companies with a higher proportion of women in senior management and executive positions have a significantly higher return on assets, share value and financial assets. Let facilitate you in attracting, supporting and retaining the best women talent!


Written by HerCareer is a career community of women seeking consult, inspiration, and the tools needed to succeed in the workplace.