HOW CAN COWORKING SPACES WALK AN EXTRA MILE TO HELP WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS?

coworking office space

A Grant Thornton and Assocham Report revealed that only 9% of startup founders in India are women. While tackling such an alarming statistic, one must consider the fact that most startups, headed by a woman or otherwise, work in coworking spaces for maximum efficiency and profitability. This has led to many women entrepreneurs voicing their support and solidarity for women-focused coworking ventures.

As per a survey by the Economic Times, 4 in 10 women employees feel that their workplace is exclusively male-dominant, and more than 55% opine that career growth and professional development is a major challenge in such an environment. Moreover, a TimesJobs survey revealed that 26% of women felt that gender disparity was the reason behind the difficulty of getting promotions, whereas 31% of women rendered a pay raise as challenging – the barrier being gender, as opposed to their professional achievements and capabilities.

Although the gender disparity rates in terms of entrepreneurial leadership and equity are pretty horrifying, there’s still reason to cheer – more shared workspaces are rolling out forums exclusively for women. This will not only allow female professionals to share their experiences, learn, grow, network, and brainstorm but also allow them to participate in more women-focused events.

If one were to enter a women-centric coworking space in Gurgaon, they would witness sessions by support groups, mentorship and networking events, and lecture-sessions presided by women co-founders constituting a major chunk of day-to-day events. This new initiative of supporting women entrepreneurs within their respective communities is sure to herald a new world, wherein women-headed startups shall rise and flourish, leading to greater female representation in the startup ecosystem.

A host of shared office spaces are introducing micro-communities for women who encourage and inspire one another in the journey of actualizing their business ambitions. The objective? To share tools, resources, network, and know-how in order to help each other blossom and grow. Apart from this, more coworking spaces should focus on aiding women entrepreneurs with basic necessities, such as in-house laundry services, wellness rooms, amenities for pregnant and nursing mothers, etc, in order to help them juggle and balance work and home-related priorities in a better manner. This will not only make things easier for women professionals but also allow them to contribute better to both spheres, while being able to attain mental peace and emotional stability.

Mental health and emotional well-being also play a pivotal role in the business world – a role that is often undermined and overlooked. Women entrepreneurs should be granted extra support with respect to the preservation of their mental health and well-being. Apart from this, it should also organize events revolving around growth hacks for bootstrapping a company, taxation strategies, finance and investment, and the proliferation of brands on   diverse social media channels. Shared offices could also provide their spaces to women entrepreneurs at subsidised rates in order to ensure greater inclusion, participation, and representation.

One might ask, why should coworking go the extra mile to help out women entrepreneurs? Here’s why women need special recognition at workplaces:

  • 65% of women entrepreneurs struggle to avail basic, equal opportunities at the workplace.
  • 16% of women entrepreneurs are blatantly discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of their gender.
  • 23% of women entrepreneurs battle invisibility and discrimination, while struggling to feel at par with their male coworkers.

Well, it is high time that more women are given the chance to shine and share their stories with the rest of the entrepreneurial community. More partnerships between various women-centered professional communities should be encouraged and more women should be provided with a platform to come forward and pitch their business ideas.

Coworking spaces have a seminal role to play in actualizing these chain of events and enriching the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole in India. Small steps in this direction can contribute to huge leaps – only if we aim for the moon.

IA Team

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