02nd December 2022: For over two decades, CNBC-TV18 has been India’s no.1 business news brand with cutting-edge analysis and in-depth news reportage. Over the years, the brand has changed the paradigms of business news, by ushering in an era of dynamic, real-time market news across the nation. As a leader and a purpose-driven brand, CNBC-TV18 takes its responsibility very seriously to advocate for relevant conversations and put the spotlight on topics that truly matter. Taking this promise further, the brand has kickstarted a mega initiative to chart a path towards achieving gender parity in the workforce with CNBC-TV18’s ‘Future Female Forward – A Women’s Collective’, presented by HSBC India. The initiative was launched with a grand on-ground event, held at the St. Regis Mumbai, Lower Parel, Mumbai on 25 November 2022.
As part of the launch, the essence of this initiative has been captured through a special anthem exclusively composed by musician Sonam Kalra. Through its theme and words, “This is My Time to Shine”, the anthem celebrates the never dying spirit of a woman and how she faces any and all challenges thrown at her with grace. The anthem was introduced to the audience and performed by flow artist and dancer Eshna Kutty at the launch event.
The event comprised three insightful plenary sessions with business leaders and superachievers from different walks of life discussing the challenges women continue to face while striving to make their mark in the Indian corporate space. The first discussion titled ‘The Leaders Forum – Playing for Parity’ was moderated by Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18 with speakers such as Dr. Anish Shah, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.; Prabha Narasimhan, Managing Director, Colgate-Palmolive India Ltd; Hitendra Dave, CEO, HSBC India; Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals; Manish Shah, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Godrej Capitals; N. Venkatram, Managing Partner and CEO, Deloitte India; and H.E Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland to India gracing this panel. The discussions covered a plethora of pertinent issues, ranging from post-maternity mentorship to equal representation at the workplace with more women holding leadership positions in a brand.
Commenting on gender representation in academics, Hitendra Dave, Chief Executive Officer, of HSBC India, said, “When you see engineering colleges and MBA institutes 5-10 years from now, you will see diversity and inclusivity improve. There is clear evidence that companies with diversified pools of talent in the form of gender and ethnicity get far better quality of work in their systems. Frankly, any business that cares about its longevity and growth will want to emphasize diversity for its own interest as well. From HSBC’s perspective, we want to focus on doing a much better job, and serve our internal and external stakeholders better, which according to us is only possible with more women representation. We need organizations to showcase women role models more actively.”
N. Venkatram, Managing Partner and CEO, of Deloitte India added his point of view to the insight and said “Our findings in the 2022 Women @ Work report suggest that if the organization respects the entire workforce, the results are far better. Women belonging to happier organizations claim that they are willing to stay in one organization for 5 years, which is huge in the corporate space.”
The second session, ‘Founders Forum – The Start-Up Playbook’, was moderated by CNBC-TV18’s Ritu Singh and had Sushma Kaushik, Partner, Aavishkaar Capital; Suman Gopalan, Chief HR Officer, Freshworks; Madhu Shalini Iyer, Partner, Rocketship.VC; Akanksha Hazari, Founder & CEO, LoveLocal; and Seema Chaturvedi, Founder & Managing Partner, of Achieving Women Equity Funds, as panelists.
Commenting on fund management by women-led startups, Akanksha Hazari said, “Today, less than 1% of VC funding goes to women-led start-ups in India. Pre-pandemic, the global investment was 2.5% but that got down to 2.3% now. We don’t have many women investors on the other side of the table. The journey has been tough but with more international investors entering the market, the capital inflow has been better.” The discussion ranged from the current status of women’s representation in the VC funding space to how the Indian-start up the ecosystem is helping drive progress in this space.
During the event, Shyamala Gopinath, Former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, along with Hitendra Dave and N. Venkatram felicitated ISRO scientists Dr. Rashmi Sharma, Dr. Ritu Karidhal, and Dr. N. Aparna for their efforts during the Chandrayan mission and India’s continuing dominance in the space race. Dr. Ritu also shared how there were an equal number of women scientists who played a key role in the mission and how ISRO has provided a safe and secure environment that has helped women progress and achieve history.
This was followed by the third and final panel session titled ‘She-conomy – The Digital Dividend’ moderated by CNBC-TV18’s Mangalam Maloo. The panelists were Niharika NM, Global digital content creator; author Anita Bhogle; Gauri Shinde, Film Director & Screenwriter; Naiyya Saggi, Co-Founder, The Good Glamm Group; and Ananya Birla, Singer, Songwriter & Entrepreneur and the discussion threw light on how there are a plethora of opportunities and doors that have opened up for women across all sectors, thanks to the digital boom.
“The whole matter of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is fast changing. When amazing women come together in a powerful community and hold conversations such as this, great collaborations happen,” said Naiyya Saggi.
Commenting on the impact of such an initiative, Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18, said, “We couldn’t have asked for a better launch for the campaign. Key stakeholders shared their diagnosis of what holds women back from participating in the economy and more importantly presented solutions that have worked & been replicated. From Policymakers, CEOs, Founders, Investors & Creators, Future. Female. Forward, is the platform to drive meaningful conversations & draw up a charter for change. We intend to take this campaign nationwide and involve key international leaders too”
Taking the thought further, Smriti Mehra, CEO – of Business News, Network18 added, “CNBC-TV18 has always been a purpose-driven business news brand in India; not just creating an equity revolution but also give a voice to subjects that matter and can make a difference to the society at large. With Future. Female. Forward – The Women’s Collective, we have taken impactful steps to drive gender parity and create relevant conversations and spark the right interests which would eventually lead to long-term reform in how women are perceived in corporates. We are glad that this initiative is becoming a platform for various powerful voices in the country, to come and advocate for the cause, leading to long-term ripples in the industry.”
The evening was concluded with various influential voices in the industry and beyond coming together and concluding that it is indeed very important to create an equitable work environment for the active participation of the workforce.