Upping 'Women Power' in India Inc.

Upping 'Women Power' in India Inc.

Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer, Randstad India, 0

The 2022 Seramount & Avtar 100 Best Companies for Women Report provides an exciting perspective on the facts and realities of today, INCLUDING the optimism of tomorrow’s possibilities with respect to women at the Indian workplace. Women representation in their list of top 100 companies has risen to 34.8 percent last year from 25 percent in 2016. In the Top 10 companies, the overall representation for 2022 stands above 40 percent.

As early as 2015, a McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that by 2025, India’s GDP could be richer by $ 770 billion if women at work were given equal opportunities. According to IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation), the present contribution of women to the GDP is 18 percent. We can bemoan the fact that this is less than half the global average, or we can take the positive step of looking at what the best 100 companies do well for their women talent force — and forge a future roadmap for gender inclusive success for India Inc.

The Intent is Strong — Corporate India Wants More Women
This year, there seems to be a purposeful intent among Indian corporates to add women to their workforce. Companies across different industries are raising their efforts towards this end. Over the next three years, Schneider Electric looks to have 50 percent of its new hires, 40 percent of frontline managers, and 30 percent of senior leadership as women.

A heartening factor is that many companies are also focusing on hiring women who are aspiring for second-careers. According to the 2022 Seramount & Avtar 100 Best Companies for Women Report, 75 percent of the top 100 best companies have formal programs for returning and second-career women as against 30 per cent in 2016. PayPal’s Recharge program invites women who are looking to rejoin the workforce after a break. They take the women through a one-day workshop where they are shortlisted for a boot camp and finally selected into the company. Similarly, Axis Bank has piloted an innovative ‘Gig-A-Opportunities’ program, where 44 percent of hires were women, including young mothers returning to work virtually.

Equity and Inclusiveness Enhance Enterprise Competitiveness
Organizations are realizing that a diverse workforce opens up a larger talent pool and brings greater innovation and engagement, which significantly contribute to growth and success. Thus, they unleashed a slew of Initiatives, including flexible work arrangements, easier access to mentoring and employee resource groups, career advancement programs, and more.
In building a culture of gender inclusion, CISCO has some excellent initiatives. Its ‘Unconscious Bias’ training program has modules such as ‘Courageous Conversations’ that shows how to have open and respectful conversations. Their ‘Women Rock-IT’ initiative has women leaders sharing their journey to leadership – and opens a world of possibilities for a career in technology.

In developing skills and capabilities, Procter & Gamble focuses on STEM for women employees to build their digital skills. It also focused on building managerial capabilities — women comprise almost 35 percent of managers at its manufacturing sites.

Organizations will need to create an environment where women not only have a seat at the Board table, but also have their voices heard, and be compensated on par with their gentlemen counterparts.

In terms of gender pay parity, 86 percent of the companies in the 2022 Seramount & Avtar 100 Best Companies for Women Report had mechanisms to measure and benchmark gender pay equity. These companies also showed a significant uptick in the overall promotion rate (9.64 percent in 2022 versus 6.1 percent in 2021), which was slightly higher than for men (9.21 percent in 2022 versus 5.6 percent in 2021).

Women at Leadership Levels — Promising, But a Longer Way to Go
In the last eight years, India Inc. has seen a 10 percent rise in the number of women board directors. While the Companies Act amendment in 2013 (that mandated the listed companies to have at least one woman as board director) has contributed to this increase, there are organizations that voluntarily have gone beyond the mandate — 47 percent of the top 500 companies on NSE have more than one woman as director. Specifically, companies in the Life Sciences, Media and Entertainment, and Consumer and Packaged Goods industries, recorded the highest percentage of women on Boards.

Resting on this laurel, however, will not be enough. Organizations will need to create an environment where women not only have a seat at the Board table, but also have their voices heard, and be compensated on par with their gentlemen counterparts. Efforts to make this a reality must go deeper to equip women with leadership capabilities and create a conscious path to leadership.

Undoubtedly the ownership for sustaining women participation in an organization rests with the CEO and his/her team of CXOs. They have to make this a priority — not just in aspirational vision and mission statements, but in actually creating the right context and environment to enhance women’s motivation to excel and lead. This will increase the proportion of women at every hierarchy, and ensure a purposeful upward movement of women to higher levels.

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