Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Over 40% of startups, small biz plan to hire women over next six months

While the covid-19 crisis forced many startups and small businesses to shut shop or survive on limited revenue streams, female employees who lost their jobs were impacted the most, shows a survey by community social media platform LocalCircles.

The survey, covering 7,000 startup founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners, looked at workforce adjustments and the impact on female employees, besides focusing on the hiring outlook for the next six months.

According to the survey, 31% of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups had to reduce their workforce, mostly women, in the past eight months.

The report said 25% of the respondents had to shut shop and let go of all employees, while 15% reduced staffing by 50% or more, and 19% said their workforce was reduced by 25-50%. Another 19% said their employee count reduced by up to 25%.

Only 6% said their workforce has increased, while for 16%, the employee count remained the same compared to pre-covid levels.

The survey claimed that workforce adjustments made due to the pandemic hit female workers the most.

Not a single business reported an increase in the number of female employees in the eight months since the covid-19 outbreak.

In fact, 7% of those surveyed said women in their workforce were reduced by 50-100%, 12% said 25-50% of female employees were laid off, and 12% said the reduction was up to 25%.

The survey validates the decline in representation of women in labour force participation rate in India, which has been one of the lowest in the world, and appears to have slid even further during the pandemic.

However, a bunch of startups and MSMEs said that over the next six months they will start hiring women.

While 30% said they plan to hire 1-5 women and 13% will hire 6-10, 7% were unsure about hiring women. Interestingly, 50% said they don’t plan to hire any female employees.

The survey also found that the government’s move to help small firms under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme had limited impact.

“We have consciously kept more than two-thirds women in our production department as we feel that is a must for our end goal of building India’s first clean label food brand. That can go up to 75% in the next six months; if we get government support, that could be even sooner," said Sreejith Moolayil, co-founder, True Elements, which makes health foods.

The Maternity (Amendment) Bill of 2017, which ensured paid maternity leave for six months, may have had a role to play in the declining number of female employees at MSMEs, purely due to financial constraints, besides the additional cost of funding maternity leave benefits, the survey found.

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