In some parts of the world it’s easy to take certain advantages for granted — including access to a good education and job options. But we know that not everyone has the equal opportunity to prosper.
Consider the story of Tahasin, a young girl in India who is one of four siblings growing up in Haveri district, about 200 miles northwest of Bangalore. Tahasin excelled in school, but when her brother suffered a serious accident, their welder father and homemaker mother found themselves in financial dire straits. Tahasin and her sisters were forced to drop out of school.
Indian girls from rural or underprivileged circumstances quit school for a host of different reasons. In addition to poverty, underlying social factors include early marriage, lower expectations for girls’ education, deep-rooted gender norms and migration. Conditions in schools themselves also play a role, such as lack of safety or lack of sanitation facilities, especially in schools in rural areas and urban slums.
But Tahasin’s story doesn’t end there. Through her parents’ efforts to get her education back on track, she had the opportunity to participate in Intuit Rise: Girl Child Education Initiative. The program is designed to empower society through a series of initiatives for women, youth and their environment. As a result of joining the program, Tahasin can now pursue her dreams of becoming a teacher and helping other poor children get an education.
Rise of the change makers
Diversity and inclusion isn’t just something we do– it’s part of who we are as a company. We also know that diversity and inclusion are essential to our mission of powering prosperity around the world. We invest in our employees and communities, increase equity by providing new opportunities, and improve the world for our customers and the generations that will come after us.
As we explore ways to support diversity and inclusion while helping our communities, our team in India had an idea. In partnership with Concern India Foundation, the Intuit Rise program has a bold focus: To support the education of one girl child for every woman employee who joins Intuit India. Since its launch in 2017, the program has funded the education of more than 200 Indian girl children with the goal of helping to educate over 1,000 girls through the program.
With this initiative, Intuit aims to recognize the passion that drives young girls and women to be change makers in society. Girls who get sponsorship also get an opportunity to connect with female engineers at Intuit to learn more about being a woman in tech.
This well-rounded program brings together a number of different initiatives to support girls in need:
- Sponsorship for girl children. The program identifies girls from underprivileged backgrounds and makes sure they’re enrolled in schools. It also provides fees and other education support materials needed to attend school.
- Sensitization of parents. For parents of girl children, the program 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 program. 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 counseling 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-defense classes and awareness sessions. Children are trained in basic self-defense and safety. They’re also taught essential life skills in things like growing up and becoming a responsible adult, taking care of oneself, communication, assertiveness and dealing with peer pressure.
Putting a human face on social responsibility
The Girl Child Education Initiative aligns to our company’s Bold Goals in several ways. It contributes to our efforts to build our reputation as a company that believes in championing diversity and making a positive difference in the world. And it helps support our commitments to both diversity and social responsibility in a way that creates opportunities for all.
Targeting the education challenges of Indian girls today is a way of bringing more women into the workforce in the future. Over 48 percent of girl children in rural areas of India are married before the age of 18. This contributes to a belief that investing in girls’ education should not be prioritized. Left unchecked, this issue could create a vacuum of future women leaders.
By focusing on underserved and underrepresented girl children, the program goes beyond traditional corporate philanthropy by humanizing social responsibility. Another example is Monisha, a student in Bangalore. After her father died of a heart attack 12 years ago, her mother became the sole breadwinner. Monisha’s grandparents helped raise her but eventually became too old to offer support. Even after Monisha’s mother opened a small shop, the income wasn’t enough, and Monisha had to drop out of school.
The Intuit program helped get Monisha back into her school. It covered her education expenses, and the after school program has helped her work through academic difficulties. In addition to scoring excellent grades and near-perfect attendance, Monisha attended a self-defense counseling session, which made her more confident and excited about her future possibilities.
Engaging with Intuit employees
Intuit employees play a key role in the success of the program. They get to meet the students in person and take part in motivational sessions, as well as sessions on health and hygiene, finance management, career guidance and more.
A number of other employee initiatives are coming together to support the program. The Intuit Women’s Network (IWN) partnered with Intuit’s We Care & Give Back (WCGB) community to set up an awareness drive around women’s hygiene. As part of this activity, participants put together hygiene kits for the underprivileged girl children of the Intuit Rise Girl Child program.
The WCGB team also organized 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 just under 200 medical kits and grocery kits with the basic food supplies necessary for daily sustenance.
Recognition that we’re Stronger Together
We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received for the work we’ve done so far but we know there’s more work to be done. The Intuit Rise Girl Child program was awarded the Rotary Karnataka CSR Award – 2020 for Best CSR Practices in Promoting Basic Education and Literacy. It was also named Best CSR Project in the Education and Women Empowerment category by India CSR — India’s largest CSR network.
We’re honored that Intuit India was recognized as one of the Top 10 companies in India’s 100 Best Workplaces For Women 2020. Of the more than 850 organizations evaluated for consideration in the list, 516 met the eligibility criteria. The criteria included having at least 10 percent women employees on their payroll and at least 70 percent positive feedback on the Trust Index© employee survey from women employees in the organization. To make the final cut of India’s Best, the list was further narrowed down through study of gender parity and representation of women across levels.
We’re focused on continuing to build our people-first culture while continuously strengthening our brand as an innovative technology company. And we’ll continue the work we’re doing to live and breathe our value of being stronger together every day.