About 59 percent of the respondents said ‘agree’ when asked if women face more challenges than men when it comes to the workplace while almost 49 percent of the respondents said they ‘agree’ that women face discrimination or bias during the hiring process, according to the Gender Perception Survey 2019 conducted by Randstad.
Here are a few highlights from the Roundtable Conference hosted by Randstad India in association with People Matters in Hyderabad. Panelists included HR professionals and talent leaders from a wide range of organizations, who rallied together to share their thoughts on how HR as a function can further the mantra of inclusivity and diversity in order to implement strong D&I culture and practices.
Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer, Randstad, started out the discussion with the context of the Randstad study and Rajita Singh, Head of HR, Broadridge Financial Solutions moderated the discussion among the roundtable conference attendees.
The numbers game
The gender ratio has historically been in favor of the men when it comes to the workplace. Many organizations have approached the issue of gender imbalance in their offices with a single solution--hire more women. Many panelists in the Roundtable Conference said chasing the numbers is not the only solution.
“A lot of the times meritocracy goes for a toss when leaders are in a rush to meet the numbers,” said, Sriniwas CR, Director of HR, Accenture, adding that organizations that enable their employees to work from various locations and reward meritocracy versus just showing a 50-50 gender ratio perform better when it comes to the business bottom-line as well.
Diversity beyond gender
Challenges of creating a diverse workforce are aplenty. Ensuring that there is a balance both in terms of ratio of women to men is still relevant. However, the need of the hour is to go beyond the gender equation and consciously tap into a diverse talent pool--be it about hiring differently abled employees or former military officers into civilian job roles.
“Inclusion is more important than diversity, according to me,” said Kshitij Kashyap, Vice President and Head of Human Capital India, UnitedHealth Group (Optum Global Solutions).
The challenges of diversity are vastly different on a global scale. A societal mindset change combined with a transformation of the mindset of employees within the workplace is the way forward.
“As a global organization, we were looking at defining our Inclusion and Diversity agenda. We found that getting women in the workforce in the Philippines was not a challenge,” said Kashyap during the roundtable conference on Building Inclusive Workplaces.
As workplaces undergo digital transformation and focus on not only product differentiation but also on user experiences, the workforce becomes multigenerational. Onboarding employees from various generations can give the company an added layer of diverse thoughts being brought to the table.
Randstad MD and CEO, Paul Dupuis, highlighted that the conversation about diversity and gender equality changes with the location that a company operates in. For example, he added, in Canada, the gender balance in the workplace has been achieved to a great extent. So much so that a Caucascian-male would be considered as a minority! Dupuis urged the HR leaders and talent management specialists around the table to pay attention to the differing needs of the women and men employees in the workplace and ensure that each group gets a fair representation especially when it comes to appraisals, incentives and rewards, he added.
Having driven the diversity aspect of the HR function for the last five years for TCS in Hyderabad, Saumya M, Head of HR ISU, TCS, Hyderabad, said her team has been making a conscious effort in order to further expand the diversity spectrum from including more women in senior roles to addressing the challenges of working with multiple generations at once. Conducting sensitization sessions for various teams from time to time has helped the company to transform mindsets and eliminate prejudice about a particular gender or profession.
Diversity in leadership styles
When asked if women make better managers or leaders, about 51 percent of the men surveyed agreed while only 28 percent women disagreed. Fifty-six percent of the respondents surveyed during a study conducted by Randstad said they agreed that having more women in leadership roles would “create a workplace culture that is more accepting of women and their distinct needs.”
HR leaders can design targeted interventions in their respective organization in order to develop entry-level women employees to enable them to develop capabilities for senior roles. Kiranmai Dutt Pendyala, currently the Global Head of HR, Invenio Solutions, and previously a Corporate Vice President at AMD, pointed out that stereotypes about the right “leader” have to be debunked from organizations. Intervening with a buddy-program can go a long way in mentoring employees to take on ownership of new programs and initiatives.
(This article is based on the roundtable conducted by People Matters in association with Randstad at Hyderabad on March 13, 2019.)