Brands vied with each other to woo women consumers in the run up to March 8, which marks International Women’s Day. With a flood of women-day campaigns hogging social media timelines and bombardment of promotional messages offering discounts, International Women’s Day seems to have become fully corporatised and, to an extent, reduced to tokenism.
“Women’s Day is now firmly entrenched in the marketing and HR calendars of corporate India. At its best it is a day to further the cause of gender inclusivity and diversity. But even at its worst it is a day for women to receive a gift. Women have to decide which way they want to go - and the levels will vary depending upon where they are on Maslow’s hierarchy,” says Jessie Paul, CEO, PaulWriter.
Some experts believe brands end up whitewashing the struggles and discriminations women face. “How brands end up using Women’s Day to sell products is quite manipulative. The brands tend to project women as super woman and the super women are always super consumers of their products. The corporate world’s woman is the aspirational woman. Brands don’t want to discuss the layers of discrimination being faced by women in the real world,” said Arathi PM, Director-Gender Studies, Mahatma Gandhi University.
Arathi believes corporatisation leads to homogenisation of women’s identities and reduces them to mere consumers.
To be sure, many corporations have been focusing on more meaningful goals. For instance :companies across categories are taking slew of measures to strengthen diversity in their workforce. The Goa manufacturing plant of P&G India is being run by a fully-female production crew. Britannia plans to increase the women workforce share at its manufacturing plant in Madurai to 70 per cent by the end of 2024. Over 62 per cent of the factory workforce of Nestle India’s Sanand factory are women.
Ravindra Kumar GP, CHRO, Tata Motors said, “Today, over 3,000 women are actively engaged on our shop floors bringing a variety of expertise to build a wide range of vehicles from small passenger cars to large, heavy-duty trucks. Our premium SUVs Harrier and Safari are assembled exclusively by a dedicated all women team.”
“In India, we have a non-negotiable goal of achieving 50 per cent gender equality throughout our organization, in all teams and on all levels. We aspire to provide a workplace where employees feel respected for their individuality and with this approach, we aim to inspire others across sectors as well,” said Susanne Pulverer, CEO & CSO, Ikea India in a statement.
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