CSSA Samvaad Newsletter_SDG 8

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This Issue explores some of the salient shifts which happened during the pandemic and are currently influencing workers and workplaces. Our contributors have written on remote work, gig economy, influence of AI and subsequent worker’s rights and need for changes in workplace policies The key question is how are employers upholding Decent Work Agenda against the backdropofthecontinuedchangesatwork.

Read the Issue and be part of the journey towards promoting DecentWorkAgenda.


IN FOCUS SEPTEMBER, 2022 SDG From the Editors ISSUE,06 CSSA, QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER UNFAIR WORK AND OPAQUE NORMSAre algorithms fair to gig workers? Keerthana P Girirajan RIGHTS AND DECENT WORKGig and platform workers lack basic labour rights Professor Kingshuk Sarkar REMOTE WORKINGWork from home: The new normal in the post Covid 19 era Quazi Tafsirul Islam GENDER EQUALITY AND SDGsMaking your HR policy gender inclusive Simran Oberoi PRME Global students: Journey of Yash ShuklaMy Experience with PRME Global Students Yash Shukla

Professor Divya Singhal and Dr Sreerupa Sengupta Editors,SDGSamvaad

The year 2020 witnessed an unprecedented upheaval COVID 19 has been a health and an economic crisis, internationally. Worldwide lockdown of businesses, mandated to curb the spread of the virus, heralded unique changes at work and workplaces In fact, the pandemic generated a wide array of challenges for employeesandemployers.However,challengeshavealsocreated multiple opportunities both for business and employees For instance, pandemic induced closures, led novel industries to emerge, accelerated the trend for work from home and paved way for enhanced use of the virtual medium. The pandemic in many ways helped our organisations to leapfrog and adopt practices which otherwise would have taken a long time to be implemented. Many of the changes may have been radical for workers, workplaces and work practices, but they continue even today as they have helped organizations eventually to become resilient.

Q u a z i T a f s i r u l I s l a m and expectations, the outdated policies, regulations, tools of reward, and compensation will no longer continue to attract and retain the right kind of talent. While this gives us all the reason to adapt to a more flexible and agile work policies, it hasn’t been the case in most Asian nations. We did not learn from Scandinavian countries that an extended weekend and a flexible work arrangement might motivate my workforce and even improve their work morale, the same way the British did as they have recently announced exploring a 3-day weekend. However, the pandemic did force us to adapt, while not by choice we did make some very significant changes in a very short time, the changes are working from home arrangement, flexible work hours, remote work, hybrid work and more. In context of work practices, the pandemic has taught us what is possible, and we have explored and experienced that it is very

While the western nations, especially the Scandinavian countries have long focused on flexible work arrangements and importance of having a proper work life balance for the employees, it has rarely been in the case in our own region, Asia Even today, HR and employment practices in most Asian countries are infamous and we even take pride in outdated policies, procedures, and ways of managing the most critical resource a company can have, the human resources. Rightly dealt, this resource can become the source of competitive benefit for the employer and manage them wrong and this same resource can be fatal to the growth of any organization These factors are even more critical today as the workforce has a diverse composition today. As more and more millennials and Gen Z's enter the workforce with a completely different mindset

01 I S S U E . 0 6

Senior Lecturer of Strategy, Management & HR, Department of management, School of Business Economics, North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Work From Home: The New Normal in the postCovid-19 era.


efficiency any quickly emerged as agile organizations leading their employees to swiftly adapt while facilitating their employees to adjust to the new technology and the new way of managing work. In the post Covid 19 era, the biggest challenge is going to be to understand and address that flexible work arrangements are going to stay. These arrangements have been around and it took us a pandemic to understand the true potential of technology. As organizations realize that there are significant opportunities and benefits to letting employees enjoy the same work arrangements as the pandemic, we need to incorporate changes as well. We need to understand and change existing policies. Interviewing and recruiting online saves a lot of hassle, time for both candidates, and the recruiters.

must possible to work from home or in a hybrid setting and still make sure our contributions are same as an employee working from office. This has been a blessing for many, both companies and employees who fortunately saw the silver lining in it. Many organizations in the United States have realized that it is significantly more expensive to rent and office in a prime location and if the employees can perform with the same level of efficiency from home, then they can simply save the expenses and spend them in a more efficient manner. Many have asked employees to work from home even after the pandemic. Some have given the option to workers whether they wanted to come in to the office or continue working from home. Some came up with a blended approach, saving significantly on rent expenses by sharing offices and using a slot based system.

During the pandemic, even industries who never thought their work can be done online especially in the South Asian region has realized the true potential of their employees and that of technology. Ranging from banks, insurance companies, FMCGs to universities many organizations realized their newfound strength With the right combination of resource flexibility and coordination flexibility, many organization’s HR department proved their actual

Online training has a lot of potentials as well. I taught a class of students back in Summer 2021, I was in Bangladesh and the 120 plus students were also in different parts of India as they joined the lectures from their homes. They were all undergraduate students of Amity International Business School, it is brilliant that an institute realized the strength of technology during a pandemic and reaped the benefit.


Most importantly, organizations must realize that remote work, flexible work and hybrid work does not necessarily let employees work less or without monitoring employees do not take undue benefit. Companies need to normalize these arrangements and benefit from the agility we developed during the pandemic.

Source: While Working From Home, People With This Personality Trait Have Experienced The Greatest Increase In Work Life Balance (forbes com)

I attended and addressed a seminar with Goa Institute of Management in India in 2021 in the same manner. This has become the new norm and organizations must realize that remote training and learning can be reasonable alternatives that save us a lot of money and time.

The pandemic taught us that life is unpredictable and full of uncertainties. It also taught us the value of human lives, and many organizations showed that they cared. Alcoholic drink manufacturers manufactured hand sanitizers, companies donated billions, scientists waived their rights to make vaccines more affordable, governments came together to fight the pandemic side by side. The last two years taught us the true potential of human collaboration and we witnessed one of the most significant humanitarian efforts globally in human history. It taught us the importance of doing the right thing and treating everyone equally

That no workplace, with the rare exception of a few, has one gender working in the organization as part of its talent pool. While we do know this, the active consciousness towards the same, is important.

It is the first step towards acknowledging that our workplaces are evolving if they haven't already, to mirror our societies which comprise of all genders. But people strategy that includes policies, programs and practices have not kept up pace with that change. These have stagnated and there is an urgent need to revisit them

Because that consciousness is what will lead us to our next step Commitment.

Simran Oberoi

Product Sales Leader (South Asia) Human Capital Solutions, Aon

Have you ever walked into a workplace that has only men working there? Or only women?Oronlytransgender?

If we want to make a calculated guess about that it is likely to be a small number when compared to all workplaces you might have seen in the span of your professional career. And therefore, such a single gender workplace is an exception.

What that establishes is something that we already know, but we don't often think about consciously, when we set up our talent strategies or HR policies.


If we search for information on the internet, it will reveal many ways in which we can create a gender sensitive workplace But how many those are practically possible is the bigger question Therefore let us breakdown that list to identify some clearly actionable ways in which organizations can create such a space that makes all three genders feel that they belong in the workplace and are safe there.

Making Your HR Policy Gender Inclusive

Gender specific dress code Business dressing or dress code is important to fit in with the organization’s culture. Some organizations take an informal approach to how employees dress while others are more formal However, when there are gender specific policy provisions, those tend to trigger biases. To share some examples of how gender specific guidelines cause bias. University of North Carolina conducted a study some months ago. The result - Women who wore flats were deemed more capable and prepared. The precedent for this study was an instance in 2016 when an employee of PwC London was sent home without pay because she refused to wear two to four inch heels, as per the company’s dress code for women employees. HR policies need to address this issue since this will have ripple effects even for the transgender employees.

Reporting discrimination One of the areas that needs a larger degree of work from organizations is making the reporting process seamless. After someone has experienced gender related discrimination the process of reporting it, is typically very tedious. There is also fear of retaliation, due to which the reporter might hesitate to share Designing a simple but effective sub policy that defines the process in a few steps and also shares the repercussions for the harasser should there be any retaliatory actions from their end, due to the complaint, is crucial to create a safe workplace.

Infrastructure Policy It is what would be referred to in sales as the 'low hanging' fruit Widen your HR policy to bring in the infrastructural needs which can apply across genders. It does have a certain amount of investment but that can be staggered over a period of time. But, the impact is immediate in terms of the message that the entire workforce receives. Whether it is gender neutral washrooms, pumping rooms for new mothers, suitable chairs that ease the physical strain on pregnant employees, an activity space for single parents to get their children for periods of time if they have no access to creche or the school is closed, childcare facilities which are provided for adoptive parents (opposite or same-sex partners should both be covered. If you partner with an external creche facility making it available to employees irrespective of their gender, is an important policy change.

Language used Communication, verbal and no verbal has immense potential to facilitate change in a slower but significant manner. The HR policy should detail out aspects such as terms, jokes, language, gestures and so on, which are unacceptable. Most organizations covet this via their Anti Harassment policy too, but detailing out specific verbiage allows employees to get clarity on what those boundaries should be


Therefore, auditing the process related provisions but also how these are being practiced in the organization is essential to review. This is specifically true for policies related to hiring, performance management and promotions where the chances of an unconscious bias creeping in, during decision making are higher.


One of the best ways to create gender inclusive policies is to conduct regular Process and Practices Inclusion Audits. Organizations can set up HR policies to become future focused, but without actual implementation those will not have the desired impact.

New age provisions to reflect societal changes

The role of primary care giver especially for children has started becoming gender agnostic. Therefore, whether it is related to a sabbatical, part-time working, flexible hours, telecommuting, work from home, work from anywhere, uniform applicable and access to it should be emphasized upon There have been instances where creche facilities were provided only to women employees. But that would exclude men and transgender employees who have children and want to use the same.



Gig and platform workers lack basic labour rights

They are sometimes perceived as self-employed also. Gig and platform work are done by workers, yet many of these workers have become invisible in labour market framework. Most of these workers don’t see the gig economy as a full time option due to job insecurity, amplified by complex contracts, the changing rates of incentives, and the lack of control over impossible targets.


Gig economies work outside the traditional employment structures excluding them from minimum wage protection and social security Companies in such instances do not consider themselves as employers. They prefer to call themselves as aggregators. In absence of clear employer employee relation, it is very difficult to apply labour laws. Application of labour laws depend on the premise that employer employee relation exists.

The emergence of the gig or platform economy is one of the most important changes in the world of work During the last one decade, digital labour in the form of gig and platform workers proliferated in India and other parts of the world. Digital labour platforms have increased five fold worldwide in the last decade. In the 2nd half of 2018-19, 13 lakh Indians joined the gig economy. India currently accounts for $1 billion of the global market. While the US leads the race with 53 million independent workers, India has 15 million gig economy workers

This new form of employment created employment opportunities but at the same time such work is characterized by lack of protective labour legislation and remain mostly unregulated. In such cases employer employee relation is ambiguous and workers lack job and social security

In recent past, British Supreme Court in an important judgement, gave the ruling that Uber was an employer and should be responsible to provide certain labour rights to its drivers.


Amendments to labour laws in Ontario and California have shown a move towards granting employee status to platform workers, thus guaranteeing minimum wage and welfare benefits This is the view propagated by international agencies in the EU, including the European Trade Union. The government in India should also consider granting the gig workers the status of employees of the aggregators. That would automatically provide them all the labour benefits like PF and ESI.

Whether it is minimum wage, protection from arbitrary termination, provision of social security, all depend on the existence of defined employer employee relation.

The Code on Social Security 2020, which was passed in Parliament in September 2020, and has already received presidential assent, has provided for social security for gig and platform workers along with unorganised sector workers. This is the first occasion that gig and platform workers have been defined and incorporated within the ambit of labour laws. While it is a great initiative by the government, there are issues about overlapping definitions and how to make the registration as inclusive as possible.

In recent times, there have been agitations by gig and platform workers at different cities regarding reductions in commissions and deterioration in terms of service. In Bengaluru last February, Ola and Uber services in the city were disrupted as drivers intensified their agitation against cab aggregators for a fall in their monthly remuneration. Transport department had called grievance meet twice. Uber did not attend any meeting. Delivery workers of Flipkart and Myntra held demonstrations, struck work regarding poor working conditions There are complaints against all aggregators regarding long working hours, poor working conditions and meagre pay/commission Swiggy and Zomato delivery persons also held agitations protesting fall in delivery prices. These aggregators claimed to treat their workers as ‘partners’. However, people who are working for them, allege high level of exploitation.

A tripartite effort by the State, companies, and workers to identify where workers fall on the spectrum of flexibility and regulation is critical The way forward for platform workers is through a socio legal acknowledgement of the heterogeneity of work in the gig economy and the ascription of joint accountability to the State and platform companies towards ensuring labour rights. Efforts should be made to reclaim employer employee relation in digital labour market. Terms of employment and conditions of service should be clearly expressed. Basic norms of international labour standards must be followed. Collective bargaining and social dialogue should be encouraged such that consensus can be arrived at with regards to basic issues of employment relation. Gig economy workers are too important to be left out of protective legal framework.

Labour protection and technological innovation can be compatible here too if the employer employee relation is put in proper perspective Presently, technology is being used deliberately to create a blur between employers and employees. There is an urgent need to recognize that it is indeed work and that the work should be decent. Labour protection is not incompatible with technological innovation it just needs to be


source: dnaindia

adapted. Instead of replacing full time employment with these discrete roles, the state should think about making full time employment more flexible itself, allowing regular employees the freedom to work when and where they like without the risk of going hungry or homeless. Whether we like it or not, gig economy work is here to stay. Some mechanism needs to be evolved to curb its negative impact on the existing labour market. The idea of fixed employment needs reorientation to remain relevant in the present digital age and a mechanism needs to be evolved for accommodation of gig and platform workers within the protective legislative framework.

Are algorithms fair to gig workers?

Keerthana P Girirajan

In a world where the majority of the tasks done by humans are now done by computer, for example, Amazon/Flipkart suggesting items to buy traditionally used to be the shopkeeper’s job

Human biases exist in different forms in the world, and these can unknowingly creep into the AI algorithms human beings design which can have harmful results. AI systems make decisions on the training data, including biased human decisions, social inequalities, and historical biases.

Research Associate (Former) Centre For Social Sensitivity And Action

Therefore, there is a need for strict scrutiny of algorithms and systems before they are publicly deployed to solve real world problems.

Over the years, there has been a significant rise in the digital economy and digital labor platform users. Customers and the markets have embraced such platforms because of the cheap and convenient availability of goods and services. While these platforms offer flexibility and innovative ways of working without being physically present to the outside world, we know little about the real challenges these platform laborers face. According to the recent ILO report, the number of digital labor platforms has increased by five times from 2010 to 2020, of which 8% are in India alone. These new business models mediate between the workers and the business with the help of algorithms without having to invest in capital assets or hire employees


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new buzzword of the 21st century and promises to facilitate the creation of a better and more equitable society. In a survey by Gartner, in 2019, 37% of organizations use AI in the workplace. In a world where many organizations are deploying AI across their operations, there are potential cases of bias that might occur while the decision making process.

by private entities. With the growth of these algorithms based digital platforms, data has become an essential resource for these businesses and workers. Stakeholders can use or manipulate these data, including workers, organizations, businesses, and communities. Data collected at the workplace by these platforms can be used to enhance and accelerate decision making, improve organizational goals, and the overall performance of the businesses. In the case of gig workers, this can have a negative impact as the workers’ data can be used to monitor work performance

The following section of the article discusses the challenges that gig workers face in the modern algorithmic world.

ISSUE,0611 Source:wwwhttps://wwwpngwingcom/

The data generated by the digital platforms are the property of the company. There is no transparency and no access to personal data

Opacity in the algorithms and data generated

Modern algorithms used for these platforms are highly complex computer code that learns from human fed data and is developed and controlled

For example, Uber has exclusive access to the data from other Uber acquired competitors like Careem, Cornershop, Postmates, etc., raising concerns over the privacy rights of gig workers who worked for them. This becomes difficult for the gig workers to fight for their rights. The workers do not know how

The platforms have brought opportunities for employment seekers as well as the businesses hiring them But these opportunities are accompanied by a set of challenges, including regularity of work and income, social protection, freedom of association, and right to collective bargaining.

The everyday work of these gig workers is defined by the data these algorithms generate. The ILO survey shows that although the major attraction of gig work is flexible working hours, a sizable portion of the app based taxi or delivery services could not cancel or refuse their orders as it might affect their ratings The workers mentioned that they do not have time to decide whether to decline or accept the work allocated. Some platforms also ensure that the workers install a

Transparency and strict audits of algorithms are the need of the hour. The gig workers need to be provided priority, and their workers’ rights need to be upheld over the algorithms. They need rights to their data and a grievance redressal system to ensure their well being. In a technologically advanced and algorithmic controlled world, it is crucial to consider the plights of gig workers to have an efficient, accountable digital platform. Data laws and algorithm audits are essential to have reliable and responsible digital platforms

specific software by which they are forced to be available during particular times, their working hours are tracked, and data getting monitored while working. The platforms are overly dependent on ratings. If the workers do not get ratings, it is flagged as incomplete work Other times, gig workers also get fraudulent ratings that are not based on their work. A high rate of unfair rejections indicates that work tends to be supervised by algorithms more than humans.



Lack of autonomy



algorithms make decisions on rating one gig worker over the other When the algorithms act up and show a worker in a bad light, they cannot claim a dispute as they have no resources/data available to prove the same.


PGDMStudent(202123) GoaInstituteofManagement


team, we gathered information, engaged in conversation, conducted interviews with student leaders, and identified a variety of sustainable practices, student initiatives, and global sustainability opportunities as well as upcoming events for our audience. The newsletter helped many parties, including the students who now had a platform to identify the best professional prospects. While the businesses or organizations that sponsored these chances received a global platform to share the appropriate opportunities with the appropriate audience. This experience improved my self assurance and leadership abilities, allowing me to grow as a person and team player on all fronts. Along the way, I also gained some fantastic friends and mentors. I'm very grateful to Goa Institute of Management for enabling me to participate in PGS and for being an active PRME member.

The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) is a United Nations supported initiative founded in 2007. As a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world, PRME equips today's business students with the understanding and ability to deliver change tomorrow newsletter project as part of my project, and with the assistance of a global taskforce

My Experience with PRME Global Students

PRME Global students: Journey of Yash Shukla


@cssagim ISSUE,06 Connect with us : 15

While working on SDG goal 8 we are now very much sure that our readers will develop a broader perspective with respect to relation between the trio i e, economic growth, employment and work. In this era, one can say that change and adaptability is the new normal.

We live in an era where we can talk about discovery of new galaxy, life on other planets, a quick ride to space or double digit growth but what about the workers who drive this dream of growth? Workers living across the world are facing challenges driven by the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruptions, labour laws uncertainties, among others Moreover, systemic issues like inhumane working conditions, child labour, migrant workers, forced labour, etc are still being witnessed worldwide.

Balancing growth, employment and work


SDG 8 makes us realize that mere economic growth in form of numbers won't be sufficient to reflect on the human development parameters Through this edition, we as a team were able to connect the dots with the articles contributed by our esteemed authors and the multidimensional perspective they provided through their articles The services provided by the gig workers, their work life balance and their working conditions are mostly neglected by us as consumers and policy makers Furthermore, work from home is now the new work culture accepted by large number of companies and their employees providing new horizon to work life.

We invite students, faculty, industry and the government to share their good practices on SDG 8 Centre for Social Sensitivity and Action Goa Institute of Management Poriem, Sattari, Goa 403505 Tel: 0832 2366700 Website: www gim ac in Email: cssa@gim ac in Concept Dr Sreerupa Sengupta, Assistant Professor, GIM Student Team Manavi Khattar, Yash Shukla, Shruti Singh, Hridyanshi Dave & Vaishnavi Shreya Published by CSSA, GIM Disclaimer: All views expressed in this issue are solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of CSSA.

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