Why women could be our biggest financial influence:
“The 21st century is not about India versus China. It’s about women!” Banker-turned-entrepreneur Nirmala Sankaran from Heymath !, a Chennai-based company that offers online math tutorials for school children, is totally convinced. “The skills we need most today are collaboration, knowledge sharing, communication, multitasking and flexibility, most of which come naturally to women. India is projected to have 66% more women than in China in the 20-25 age category by 2020, and the total number of women in the overall working age category (20-60) expected to be close to 500 million women, we are undermining the competitive potential of India by not investing enough to allow women to become a significant part of our workforce. ” How’s that for the big picture and long-term vision?
Going back to 2008, what is the reality on the ground?
With demand for quality talent outstripping supply by a wide margin, HR managers at IT and BPO companies large and small are constantly thinking of ways and means to alleviate the problem.
Companies like Wipro Technologies and TCS have used the strategy of hiring science graduates, delivering relevant training, and deploying them in infrastructure management and test engagements. Establishing operations in Tier 2 and even Tier 3 cities is another strategy for tapping into a larger pool of talents.
A third strategy that companies are now seriously considering is attracting more women into the workforce. Recently, Infosys announced that it plans to have between 1% and 2% part-time employees in its BPO division to attract a section of the workforce that this can attract: women and retirees. According to the company, the goal is “to expand the pool of available talent, meeting customer requirements for work parties that do not require full-time employees and meeting the work-life aspirations of female employees who cannot work on time. full”. Infosys has also created a framework to manage gender inclusion and nurture women leaders, namely AIR: Attract, Increase and Retain.
Wipro Technologies’ exit analysis indicated that most women leave for personal reasons, such as starting a family or relocating with their family or to provide a support system at home. The company reasoned that addressing some of these needs would help retain women. “We have instituted support systems like extended maternity leave, company-supported daycare, special job options, and our colleagues appreciate them very much. However, what many have told me they like best is the care we take. to support their and that is reflected in our growing team of women at all levels, “explained Sunita Cherian – GM, HR.
Clearly, top-tier companies have realized the benefits of gender diversity and the benefits of women in the workforce. What about startups? Are there examples of companies that have explored this strategy and what have been the results? What are the issues that need to be examined if women become a significant part of your workforce?
Tushar Bhatia, CEO of Noida-based Saigun Technologies, who is curiously in the HR software products business, shared his experience of employing women in Saigun. “Women are highly focused and productive and often perform better. So it’s a great idea to include them in the employee mix. Women are loyal and provide stability to the workforce.” However, on the other hand, desertion for personal reasons is higher and the inability to work long hours can sometimes represent a problem. Suresh Sambandam, CEO of OrangeScape, a Chennai-based product startup, echoed similar thoughts.
Fast-growing BPO Indecomm Global Services is an interesting case study. Indecomm is a rare example of a company that has multiple women in leadership positions. Sudha Prakash was H-HR and then successfully led Indecomm’s foray into retail banking services. Vidya Ravikumar, H-India Operations, has created a robust multi-location operating model that is a key differentiator for the organization. According to Sudha Prakash, women can work well in a restricted situation (typical of young, growing companies) and get the job done with little fuss, exemplified by Vidya and her own contributions to Indecomm. She also added that a supportive environment is a must for women to be successful, and acknowledged the role played by CEO Naresh Ponnapa in creating that environment at Indecomm.
Nirmala talks about her own experience at Heymath !, a company with almost 50% women. Nirmala feels that women are better suited to a business environment and are excellent “situational leaders.” This goes back to the now-recurring theme of being able to get the job done without regard for limitations.
Corroborates Padmini Sharathkumar, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Polaris Software Labs, “Women are natural multitaskers and they are very good project managers.” She says, however, that the support ecosystem in India for working women is still underdeveloped, leading a large number of women to quit their full-time jobs, either through marriage or to care for the family. family. This has resulted in a fairly significant number of potentially employable women in the 25-40 age group who are not part of the workforce. Imagine the leverage that companies would have if they could take advantage of this pool.
Simar Singh, president and founder of Compare Infobase, in fact, has led the conversation when it comes to creating an organization that offers equal opportunity. Numbers say everything. A strong organization of 1,000 people, Infobase has approximately 43% women in its workforce. Almost half of the 25 members of the company’s management committee are women. Many of its business divisions, including media and content generation, have women in positions of responsibility or leading them. Says Simar: “The company has a philosophy of zero tolerance towards any type of bias, be it gender, religion or ethnicity, and has ensured, from day one, that this philosophy is implemented in letter and spirit” . In fact, the company has gone to great lengths to provide a supportive environment for its women, allowing for flexible work hours, or even work-from-home options, for proven artists. He believes this has helped “Compares” women get through transitional phases (such as starting a family) without a complete interruption to their career. Interestingly, Simar has not spent time measuring the results of the company’s bias-free environment. As he says, “This is the core of what we believe and there is no need to measure that!”
In summary, it is clear that women can contribute significantly to the growth of the IT and BPO industry in India. While there are examples of progressive companies that have realized the benefits of having women as part of the workforce, women remain an under-leveraged resource today. While the information technology industry has set an example by creating more opportunities for women, more can be done to create a win-win situation, for women who can work, and for the industry.