Come March, and brands will begin inundating women with a lot of attention, discounts, and promotions to mark International Women’s Day (IWD). But this year, brands seem to be focusing on more impactful initiatives. From using AI to remove objectification of women in songs to empowering women at shop floors in manufacturing facilities and enabling women entrepreneurs to sell their products, there is a distinct step up in initiatives. 

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Take, for instance, Dabur India, which has established an all-women production line in its largest plant near Indore, meeting with the IWD 2024 theme of “Inspire Inclusion.” A crew of 20 women are engaged in the production of Vatika Hair Oil range ‘Made by Women, for Women’. The company said 30 more women will be added to the factory workforce. “We continue to make progress on our commitments as we enhance representation and inclusion across our organisation,” Dabur India Ltd. Executive Director-HR, Biplab Baksi, said.

Britannia Industries has launched HerStore, a digital ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Powered by Britannia Marie Gold, it will serve as a marketplace that will list products and services owned by women. In the coming days, it will also offer a suite of trainings, workshops, and upskilling videos for women entrepreneurs. 

But it’s audio wearable brand boAt’s initiative that caught the eye. It has found a novel way to highlight how women often get objectified in songs. As part of its campaign, it has launched ‘Ai-tem’, an AI tool designed to suggest respectful and empowering terms to describe women in songs. It has also partnered with brands like Zepto to leverage on billboards to raise awareness about this cause. Aman Gupta, co-founder and CMO of boAt said the brand aims to harness the power of humour, satire, and AI technology to lead a movement towards a more positive and empowering portrayal of women in lyrics and music.

Progressive policies

Companies are also adopting progressive employee policies. Ikea India has implemented policies to ensure equality in the workforce, such as Gender Equal Pay, a predictable 5-day workweek with schedules communicated a month in advance, parental leave for both mothers and fathers alike, and an employee assistance program to support mental wellbeing, among others.

Amazon India is trying to enhance women’s representation in its workforce through policies like “rekindle,” offering a launchpad for women re-entering the workforce; ‘Ramp Back’, facilitating a gradual return to work after maternity or parental leave; and ‘AmVoice,’ to provide a platform for senior leadership to address the concerns of women employees, among others.

Also read: The International Women’s Day brandwagon - Is ‘day marketing’ an effective strategy? 

But there’s miles to go for Indian workplaces. As per a survey released by DBS Bank in collaboration with CRISIL, at a pan-India level, 23 per cent of salaried women in India’s metros perceive a gender pay gap, and 16 per cent report gender bias at their workplace.