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Traditionally, women have been under-represented in organizations and the argument for equal opportunity employment has not borne sufficient results in India. It seems, however, that pure economics is out to correct this. As organizations struggle with a scarcity for talent, smarter companies are beginning to recognize the opportunity in grooming and retaining women. There is a rare commitment among CEOs today towards gender inclusion. In a survey commissioned by Tata Consultancy Services, People Matters engaged leaders from the HR community to share gender-related information from their companies. This report is a compilation of the information obtained from 116 companies and gives an insight into the practices, policies and metrics regarding gender inclusion in Corporate India
Tata Consultancy Services Survey on ’Benchmarking Gender Inclusion in Corporate India’ conducted by People Matters
Women are under-represented in organizations, especially in senior management roles and corporate boards.
Women continue to face many barriers on their way to the top that are unique to their gender.
Most CEOs and Top Management realize the benefits of gender diversity and are committed to the mandate of gender inclusion.
This commitment is, however, not translated into actions.
CEO commitment, women’s individual development and practices that allow a flexible work environment are at the center of a conducive environment for women to succeed.
The issues around gender equality and diversity in the workplace remain complex. On the one hand, CEOs are increasingly recognizing gender inclusion as ‘Business Case’, beyond the traditional ‘Values Case’; women need to be represented at the highest levels of decision making process as it is important for companies to gain insights in developing and marketing products and services and also to attract and retain talented women in their organizations. However, on the other hand, CEOs’ commitment is not necessarily cascading down to a designed and executed change process within the organization to create an environment to attract, retain and groom women in the workplace.
Will time by itself erode the gap between women and men? The 2010 McKinsey report shows that against common wisdom, the increase in the number of female university graduates does not seem sufficient in itself to close the gender gap in top management positions. The growth in female graduate numbers per se will have a marginal impact on women’s representation in executive committees unless it is supported with changes in the policies and practices within the organizations.
The term ‘glass ceiling’ was first coined by Wall Street Journal 25 years back. And unfortunately even today, the number of women in top management and leadership roles are not representative of the workforce population. Time alone is not the answer for gender inclusion. This so called ‘glass ceiling’ is today a metaphor that describes an environment in organizations that does not create an ecosystem for women to grow into those leadership roles.
What is the situation today? How to create this ecosystem for women to stay and succeed in organizations? What are the barriers they are facing today? How are organizations making this change? What organizational practices are required to support this change?
A total of 116 companies responded to the Tata Consultancy Services Survey on ‘Benchmarking Gender Inclusion in Corporate India’ commissioned to People Matters and included the largest employers in India across sectors. People Matters also asked the HR leadership community about their views on how organizations can make the best of the women talent pool.
Representation of Women: Show me the Numbers?
The percentage of female employees (at all levels) in Indian companies varies greatly from industry to industry. As per the survey responses, the concentration of respondents in these 116 companies is in the bracket of ‘Below 30% women representation’. In the global context, India is one of the countries with the lowest percentage of female employees along with Japan (24%), Turkey (26%) and Austria (29%). The United States (52%), Spain (48%), Canada (46%) and Finland (44%) display the highest percentage of total female employees from their sample2.
In industries like the Service sector and the IT sector, while women are well-represented overall, they are mostly concentrated at the entry levels. Service sector shows a more heterogeneous picture with 42% of respondents having less than 30% women in their workforce and 17% of respondents having up to 50% women. 70% respondents from the IT sector claimed to have up to 30% women while 17% respondents claimed 50% women representation in their workforce. Other industries have an even lower representation of women in their workforce – in Finance sector, 73% respondents claimed 15% women representation; in manufacturing non durable sector, 50% respondents claimed up to 15% women while 13% respondents said they had more than 50% women. In the manufacturing non-durable sector, 80% respondents claimed to have up to 15% women in their workforce.
The representation of women across organizations drops as the seniority of the role increases. The overall numbers of women are mostly found at the entry level and drop dramatically in senior and board level roles; 25% respondents and 67% respondents claim having no women at all at these levels respectively.
What Really Matters to Women?
Interestingly, respondents felt that factors like ‘leadership development programs’, ‘mentoring and networking opportunities’, ‘sensitization of managers to gender’ along with some hygienic base of ‘flexible work arrangement’ and ‘assistance in the form of leaves’ are vital to retain women (these factors were chosen by more than 75% of respondents as very important). Factors like company providing ‘child care facilities at the workplace’ and ‘internal women forums’ were not seen as that important.
Respondents Perception on Women Retention Factors
Vital Factors (More than 75% respondents considered these factors)
Leadership development programs 85%
Mentoring / networking opportunities 81%
Sensitization of managers and team members to gender specific needs 78%
Flexible work arrangements 78%
Assistance in the form of sabbatical leaves 76%
Important Factors (between 65% to 75% respondents considered these factors)
Reintegration program after returning from a career break 72%
Workplace Clubs, Health workshops to promote work life balance 66%
Desirable Factors (Less than 65% of respondents considered these factors)
Women forums at the organizational level 62%
Childcare facilities at the workplace 60%
Note: Percentages shown consider only respondents who clicked on these factors having an importance larger or equal of 3 (in a scale of 1 to 5). Percentages do not total to 100% as multiple responses were allowed.
What is Pulling Women Down?
Participants were asked to share the areas that they felt were problematic for women to grow in the organization. Majority of respondents felt that factors like ‘lack of flexible work solutions’, ‘masculine and patriarchal corporate culture’ and ‘lack of adequate work life balance priorities’ are most problematic factors for women to rise (the percentage of respondents considering these factors were 40%, 36% and 34% respectively). Interestingly, factors like ‘lack of networks and mentoring’, ‘lack of opportunities of critical work experience and responsibility’ and ‘lack of adequate information about existing diversity policies and practices’ were not considered by many respondents as a barrier for women to grow.
Support from the Leadership & Organization
While almost half of the respondents said that gender inclusion is an integral part of the value system and the work ethics of their organizations, when it comes specifically to the CEOs’ commitment, only 23% respondents said that their organization had a formal endorsement of gender inclusion mandate by their CEO; 40% responded that their organization actually creates mechanism to enhance visibility of this commitment across the organization.
As per the results of the survey, there are systems and policies in place in most organizations that have been designed to provide equal opportunity to women in terms of policies, practices and work environment. These questions were addressed to understand the intention of the organization in terms of gender inclusion. Around 60% of respondents said that their policies and practices are designed to ensure equal opportunity, 73% said that the performance management process is conducted fairly and 64% claimed to have a conducive environment for all talent segments.
The Real Picture
Respondents were also asked to share what policies or practices they have to create an environment for women to succeed professionally. A host of initiatives are already being undertaken by organizations. Respondents were asked, amongst a list of benefits, which of them was provided and if so, in what ways. Following was the response to what frameworks and policies are provided by the organizations.
• Prevention of harassment and anti-discrimination: 86% respondents claim their organizations have a policy on prevention of harassment and anti-discrimination.
• Post-maternity leave for childcare: 66% respondents claim that their organizations provide post-maternity leave for childcare; among those organizations that do so, 45% grant leaves between three to six months.
• Availability of flexible work arrangements: 57% respondents have flexible work arrangements in their organizations; 15% of women in these organizations avail these arrangements at any given point.
• Gender diversity initiatives being part of employee surveys: 37% respondents say their organizations ask for employees’ opinion on gender diversity initiatives in their employee surveys.
• Capturing feedback and inputs on gender diversity initiatives: 34% respondents claim that their feedback on gender diversity gets captured; 43% say feedback is captured through surveys while 33% say through focus group discussions.
• Training and sensitization for managers on gender inclusion to avoid gender bias and stereotyping: 34% respondents say that their organizations impart formal training to managers on gender inclusion. Training is conducted either through Leadership Connects (32%), Classroom Training (25%) or Discussion Forums (25% )
• Existing women’s forum / community: 33% respondents say that their organizations provide networking groups or communities for women.
• Mentoring and networking opportunities: 28% respondents say that their organizations provide opportunities for mentoring and networking for women. This includes tracking the effectiveness of these programs by just capturing feedback from the mentors (23%) and using measures like frequency of these meetings to track effectiveness (21%).
• Executive training and further education for developing women leaders: 22% respondents claim that their organizations have specific training programs for women leaders. This also includes capturing the impact / effectiveness of such programs by just asking for feedback (33%) and actually measuring the impact by tracking career progression of program participants (29%).
Childcare facilities: 19% respondents say that their organization provides child care facilities. While some organizations have onsite facilities (48%), few provide it through tie-ups (36%).
Reintegration programs: Only 2% respondents claim that their organizations have a formal reintegration program. This seems to draw major attention as there is no assistance being offered to women employees who come back after a career break, especially when the survey shows that lack of these programs are a barrier for women rising to senior positions (29% said that lack of reintegration programs are a “problematic” barrier).
Leadership & Organizational Commitment
Gender inclusion endorsement by CEO and Senior Management: Only 23% respondents have a clear and formal endorsement of gender inclusion mandate by their CEO and Senior Management teams (42% said ‘No’ to this question and 35% said ‘Somewhat’).
HR policies and practices being designed to ensure equal opportunity: Total of 82% respondents said that their HR policies and practices were designed to ensure equal opportunities (58% said ‘Yes’ and 24% said ‘Somewhat’).
Performance driven culture being conducted with fair and neutral appraisals: Total of 84% respondents said that their performance driven culture is fair and neutral in terms of appraisals (73% said ‘Yes’ and 11% said ‘Somewhat’).
Conducive work environment and equal opportunity being provided to all talent segments: Total of 85% of respondents said that their workplaces were conducive to provide equal opportunities to all (64% said ‘Yes’ and 21% said ‘Somewhat’).
Note: Percentages may not total to 100% due to rounding
Addressing the real pain points?
Respondents see lack of flexible work solutions, work-life balance and lack of an inclusive work culture as important barriers hindering women from rising to the top. At the same time, they believe that training programs at the executive and leadership level, mentoring opportunities and sensitizing managers will help retain women.
While most organizations are taking care of addressing the barriers, more emphasis must be laid on what will actually ensure in retention.
• Lack of adequate re-entry opportunities (29%) is a problematic area. However, only 2% of organizations provide for reintegration programs.
• 85% respondents feel that leadership development programs are key retention measures for women. However, only 22% respondents claim that their organizations provide such programs.
• Mentoring and networking opportunities is another key measure to retain women, state 81% respondents. However, only 28% respondents claim that their organizations undertake this initiative.
• 62% respondents claim that having an internal women forum is an important retention factor for women. However, only 33% respondents claim that their organizations have such a forum.
Gender Metrics, Reporting and Budgeting: Signals
The results show that organizations are not allocating their budgets, resources and targets to support the mandate on gender inclusion. Data shows that only 14% organizations have budgets and resources allocated within their organizations to drive this mandate. Only 16% of CEOs actually have the gender inclusion agenda as part of their scorecard.
When it comes to measurability, 85% respondents claim that their organizations do not have quotas on gender inclusion. It will be interesting to highlight here that 32% respondents claim that there are measures to track women performance in particular when asked about tracking mechanisms.
Metrics to Ensure Women at all Levels
Dr. Ritu Anand, Vice President, HR, Tata Consultancy Services
“The weak link is the ‘metrics and goal driven approach’, which is the next level of maturity that this important area needs to move to. There are no two views that it is important to create metrics for the expected benefits and output like it is for all business processes for it to cascade and become part of the organization’s thinking pattern. Appropriate metrics, which track the number of women in leadership positions, which is still abysmally low in Corporate India and improve the pipeline at the mid and junior layers need to be formulated but within the tried and tested and now very well accepted and understood backdrop of performance and potential as key drivers for talent to rise and progress. “
Business Benefits of Diversity
Rajesh Nambiar - VP & GM, Global Delivery, IBM Global Business Services
“It is imperative that management understands the business benefits of diversity (which could be manifold like better perspectives in decision making and innovation, et al), and then sets the right targets for some of the outcome metrics and drive them through focused programs. If an organization underpins its diversity agenda on solid understanding of why they are driving it, then institutionalizing would be very similar to any other business objective like growth, productivity, et al, as the expected business outcomes would help the leaders to internalize the diversity agenda.”
Requirement for Sustained & Accelerated Investments
Prithvi Shergill, Human Resources Lead, Accenture India
“The next practice will be when we do not talk about gender inclusion anymore. We will see few paradigms arising during this journey as we get closer to that destination. One will be that companies will continue to hire more and more women at all levels. Second, companies will continue to nurture those groups to ensure they are given the exposure they need to grow to more senior roles in the organization and take higher and higher responsibilities. And finally, we will need to sustain and accelerate the investments depending on what stage you are in this journey.”
Leadership Commitment is the First Step to Pursue the Path
Satish Pradhan, Group HR Head, Tata Group
“To create an organizational transformation in the area of gender inclusion, the leadership team should first reflect the level of commitment they have to this mandate; only when the commitment is high is it worth pursuing this path. Secondly, the leadership needs to understand the context of the organization and the social environment to identify the programs that will work for that context. Finally, they need to break the comfort zone and open their minds to non-traditional and non-tested ways of managing talent, which might create certain organizational discomfort.”
G. Ravindran, CEO, SHRM India
“The one thing that makes sense to every line / business manager is money. The education and maturity will come, but for starters we need to show the economic value of gender inclusion. There are two points here. Firstly, inclusion of women increases the talent-supply-pool and secondly, flexible arrangements open the possibility of reducing ‘total’ costs. Both of these are business necessities and managers don’t have an option.”
Institutionalizing Gender Inclusion across the System
Nandita Gurjar, Senior Vice President and Group Head - Human Resources, Infosys Technologies
“Organizations should work towards changing the culture of the organization by institutionalizing gender inclusion across processes and introducing policies that will support women employees when needed while maintaining meritocracy. On the process side, we have introduced tracking mechanisms to ensure that women are included in interview panels, are represented among candidates for job openings, both internal and external, and we ensure that there is fairness in performance ratings across levels. On the one hand, top management needs to be committed about the mandate and cascade this commitment across levels, and on the other hand, women need to be sensitive to use these benefits maintaining meritocracy and fighting against favoritism stereotypes.”
Retention equals Prevention
Prabir Jha, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Tata Motors
“Gender inclusion must ensure that women do not fall out of the talent pipeline. This is particularly true in India because of certain socialization where many women after their marriage opt out of jobs. The other thought is to actively promote a second innings for women, either full time or part time. Technology has enabled many jobs that can be done from home and paced depending on individual convenience. How do we leverage this to many more jobs? There are various Indian organizations that are revisiting their policies and programs to widen the appeal to women employees. The only caution is to avoid appearing patronizing or seem endorsing mediocrity for a cause.”
Metrics are Key for Change
Tiger VN Tyagarajan, Chief Operating Officer, Genpact
“Change is all about metrics; at the leadership level set goals for diversity that leaders have to achieve as part of their overall professional and personal goals. This can be done in many ways, for example by creating mandates that ensure enough women candidates as part of the interview process for external hiring (specially for mid and for senior roles). Similarly, for internal job movements force the metrics that one in three have to be a woman internal candidate for critical job moves. As important is to measure as it is to recognize – ensure that you highlight and recognize great performers in board reviews and other forums.”