Intuit India: Empowering the Girl Child and Women to Prosper and Make a Difference in their Communities

0
96

Intuit India is a business and financial software company that develops and sells financial, accounting, and tax preparation software and related services for small businesses, accountants, and individuals. A fully-owned subsidiary of Intuit Inc. USA, the India office, located in Bangalore, was started in April 2005. Integrity without compromise, courage and stronger together have guided their mission of delivering the best, and this is reflected in their social responsibility initiatives. CSR Mandate speaks with Sanket Atal, MD, Intuit India, to find out more about their flagship programme of empowering women by getting to the basics – holistic education support, including after school education, life skills training and career guidance. 

How and when was the Intuit CSR vision and mission conceptualised?

We are committed to powering prosperity in the communities in which we work and live. Everyone — no matter who they are, no matter where they live — should have the opportunity to prosper. We are using the collective strength of our products and our people to deliver on our mission, especially for those that need it most. Intuit’s ‘We Care and Give Back’ value stems from our culture of being conscious, equitable and committed. This is one of our longest-standing values, which dates to over 35 years of giving back to the community. Our vision and mission to leverage our talent, resources and skillsets to meet our long-term goals enable us to power prosperity across communities worldwide.

Women are changing the narrative across every industry and leading from the forefront with their dynamic and disruptive outlook and practices. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as we have embarked on the journey towards realising a future where women thrive in equity.

Why is Women Empowerment a priority for Intuit? Please state facts about the disparity in this area, with statistics from India.

Intuit is a firm advocate of diversity, equity, inclusion and a respectful environment. We believe that our teams should be representative of the diversity of our customers and we thrive on diverse voices to challenge and inform decisions and this enables people to find strength in heterogeneity and achieve their full potential. For us to make the best decisions as an organisation, a diversity of voices must be heard. As we say at Intuit, diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice.

One of the initiatives that we are so proud of is our Intuit Rise: Girl Child Education Initiative, launched in 2017, to empower, educate and enabling girls to learn and grow. We support girls from less privileged backgrounds, where they do not receive adequate support to continue their education. As a part of this initiative, for every female employee who joins Intuit India, we sponsor the education of a girl child. 

We take pride in our community of passionate and dedicated women, who are carving a niche for themselves and excelling in their fields and roles. We believe that when we come together, we prosper. But we know opportunities to prosper are not evenly distributed. That is why we invest in talent equity – to give the underrepresented an equal opportunity. Women are changing the narrative across every industry and leading from the forefront with their dynamic and disruptive outlook and practices. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as we have embarked on the journey towards realising a future where women thrive in equity. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2019-20, India was at the 112th position among 153 countries. There is immense scope for individuals and companies at large to tap into the potential and value addition that women bring forward and to develop sound practices that aim towards extending the support they require. Our women are changing the face of technology, and their passion drives us to power prosperity and helps shape the lives of many such women to come, through our programme.

What is Intuit’s action plan to improve the condition of women in India? Please detail the goals and objectives of this.

One of the initiatives that we are so proud of is our Intuit Rise: Girl Child Education Initiative, launched in 2017, to empower, educate and enabling girls to learn and grow. We support girls from less privileged backgrounds, where they do not receive adequate support to continue their education. As a part of this initiative, for every female employee who joins Intuit India, we sponsor the education of a girl child.

This initiative was conceptualised to aid these young girls to continue their academics and fulfil their aspirations on their terms. The project focuses on the complete and holistic growth and development of these girls and empowers them towards becoming strong, sound individuals. Additionally, it also provides them with the opportunity to interact with and learn from female engineers at Intuit about pursuing a career in technology.

What is the scale of your operations in India? How have these programmes been established across the country? What was the kind of research that went into this?

Our Girl Child Programme started in 2017, and since the initial days of the programme to date, we have reached significant milestones in our journey to empower and educate young girls and women. Till date, 215 girls have enrolled in the programme, which is growing from strength to strength and is in turn, creating more opportunities for girls to learn, explore and imbibe. Moving forward, we aim to educate 1000 girls through this programme and help secure their future. 

The programme was initiated through a structured approach that included identifying girls from underserved communities and backgrounds, enrolling them into schools and providing the requisite support materials to continue their education. Further on, an after-school programme is designed for them, based on an assessment of their academic needs. This involves creating dedicated and tailor-made curriculums as well as selecting teachers to suit the needs of the students. Following this, the students are then taken through the programme step-by-step to ensure that they receive the complete guidance and support required to complete their learning. 

Each girl child who enters the programme has a different story, and the journey that they embark on is a testament to their resolute will, fortitude and passion to go beyond the barriers that confine them.

What were the findings of the research or surveys conducted, if any, to commence the aforementioned CSR activities towards women empowerment, with a specific focus on women from less-privileged backgrounds?

One of our employees was inspired by his grandmother and the struggles she had faced in life, coming from an underserved background and then raising a family all by herself. This led him to think of the hundreds of girls who are still deprived of education due to deeply-rooted gender norms. Thus, along with some other colleagues, he formed the CSR committee within Intuit and brought to life the Girl Child initiative. 

India is ranked 108 in the Global Gender Index. The Girl Child Programme includes a unique idea where Intuit would sponsor the education of a girl child for every woman who joins the company. Through this programme, we have been able to help girl children acquire education and inspire hundreds of women to join the workforce and build their careers.

Please share details on each project, the implementation, before and after statistics and the way forward.

Intuit’s Educating Girl Child Project has six key initiatives that seek to provide a safe, structured and holistic learning and growth environment for all the girls enrolled in the programme.

Sponsorship for Girl Children. The programme identifies girls from underprivileged backgrounds and makes sure they are enrolled in schools. It also provides fees and other education support materials needed to attend school.

Sensitisation of Parents. For parents of girl children, the programme provides one-on-one and group sessions on the importance of education. The goal: to motivate parents to send their daughters to school and so reduce dropouts and absenteeism over time.

After-School Programme. After assessing children’s academic needs and identifying appropriate teachers, the girls will attend regular after school sessions focused on improving their academic performance.

Aptitude Test. This is a scientific way to help the girls make informed career choices and facilitate counselling to give them direction.

Monitoring of Attendance and Academic Performance. Our team regularly monitors the girls’ attendance and academic performance both at school and in after-school sessions.

Self-defence Classes and Awareness Sessions. Children are trained in basic self-defence and safety. They are also taught essential life skills in growing up and becoming a responsible adult, taking care of oneself, communication, assertiveness and dealing with peer pressure.

Counselling Sessions for both parents and children to identify any issue, and improve communication and interpersonal relationships.  

Please share testimonials and stories of impact.

Each girl child who enters the programme has a different story, and the journey that they embark on is a testament to their resolute will, fortitude and passion to go beyond the barriers that confine them. Among all the girls in our programme, the stories of impact that drive us are of Tahasin Kod and Monisha.

Tahasin hails from a family of six. All their finances went towards meeting the medical needs of her elder brother. Due to this, she could not continue with her education, despite having the will to study. Being an exceptional performer in school, she was recommended by the SHG during the selection process. She was immediately enrolled in the programme. She now has the opportunity to complete her education and fulfil her aspirations of becoming a teacher, and in return, help other children from underprivileged backgrounds pursue their education. 

Monisha came from a small family, with her mother being the sole breadwinner. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she had to drop out of school. It was then that she got enrolled in the programme and received the support she needed to cope with her academics. Following this, she excelled in her studies and has showcased immense discipline and dedication in keeping up with her curriculum. 

Our programme was borne out of our mission to advocate for and empower girls to realise the potential of their capabilities and to provide them with a platform that allows them to explore, learn and grow without inhibitions. 

We had the privilege of learning from 215 girls and their stories on the impact of education and how it has made a world of difference. We aim to keep growing with them and help them flourish and discover the possibilities that await them in the future. 

How unique or different are these projects or initiatives from others in the industry? Are these projects sustainable?

Our programme was borne out of our mission to advocate for and empower girls to realise the potential of their capabilities and to provide them with a platform that allows them to explore, learn and grow without inhibitions. The Educating the Girl Child project is unique in its approach to creating an impact across the lives of girl children and the community at large. We sponsor the education of one girl child for every woman who joins the company, therefore, making a significant difference to both ends of the spectrum. 

Intuit employees play a crucial role in the success of the programme. They stayed connected with our students even during the lockdown by participating in the virtual volunteering sessions and participating in motivational sessions, sessions on health and hygiene, finance management, career guidance and more.

Several other employee initiatives are coming together to support the programme. The Intuit Women’s Network (IWN) partnered with Intuit’s We Care & Give Back (WCGB) community to set up awareness drive around women’s hygiene. Participants put together hygiene kits for the underprivileged girl children of the Intuit Rise Girl Child programme. 

The WCGB team also organised an interactive workshop involving 32 Intuit employees and 50 Bangalore schoolgirls. The workshop focused on fixed vs growth mindset and included group activities, storytelling and personal coaching. Intuit volunteers did a similar workshop with 100 young girls in another school focused on learning techniques, concentration and memory.

2020 has also brought new challenges as we address inequality. The COVID-19 climate in India raised new concerns but the Intuit team wanted to make sure there was equitable access to quality education for girls, and that they were not suffering disproportionately as a result of lockdowns and lack of resources. The team continued their efforts to support the young girls who are part of the initiative by creating and delivering about 200 medical kits and grocery kits with basic food supplies necessary for daily sustenance.