Article: Schneider Electric's Binu Philip on tackling the '4M' stages for women


Schneider Electric's Binu Philip on tackling the '4M' stages for women

Schneider Electric Greater India CHRO Binu Philip reveals how the '4M' stages impact women's careers and strategies to achieve gender equity.
Schneider Electric's Binu Philip on tackling the '4M' stages for women

The future of work demands a flexible approach. Women, who make up half the workforce, are often forced to navigate career challenges during life stages like marriage, mobility, and maternity leave.  But what if companies could empower them to thrive throughout these transitions?  Schneider Electric Greater India CHRO Binu Philip reveals how their innovative '4M' strategy is breaking down barriers and achieving gender equity. Here are the edited excerpts. 

How do you ensure equitable opportunities for everyone in your organisation?

Ensuring equitable opportunities for everyone is a top priority for us. There has been a remarkable 4X increase in the percentage of women in our workforce in India, now exceeding 30%. We've also doubled the number of women leaders since 2021 and made significant strides in gender representation across various roles, with 46% of our supply chain hires in India being women in 2023. We've set ambitious targets to further enhance gender diversity. By 2025, we aim to have 50% women in hiring, 40% women in frontline managerial roles, and 30% women in top leadership positions.

Equal Pay for Equal Work is a core component of our compensation philosophy. As part of our pay equity commitment, we ensure that the gender pay gap should be below 1%.

Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce. What according to you can help address the barriers that contribute to the underrepresentation of women?

As per findings from the National Science Foundation, the representation of women in STEM professions across India stands at a mere 14% of the overall workforce. At Schneider Electric, we believe that #IMPACTStartsWithUs. Strategies to overcome this could include initiatives such as early education programs, mentorship opportunities, inclusive workplace policies, and industry advocacy efforts.

Approximately 30% of our external hires now come from universities, and over the past three years, we've tripled our intake of university hires, with more than half of them being early-career women. These individuals undergo rigorous university acceleration programmes which prepare them for the industry and business demands.

What are the primary hurdles organisations face when addressing gender gap barriers?

Tackling entrenched biases that hinder women's advancement and addressing the lack of representation in leadership roles are key challenges while addressing unequal opportunities. Another problem is the sharp drop in women's representation once they move to mid-level in the organisation.

To empower ascending women with these skills, organisations must devise custom programmes like URJA which empowers women with the desired skills.

Schneider Electric has identified ‘4M’ stages that impact career decisions for employees, especially women. These stages include - Marriage, Mobility, Maternity, and Medical Care. The absence of family-friendly policies and rigid workplace cultures that prioritise long hours and inflexible schedules, especially navigating through these 4M’s disproportionately affect women.  

We strongly believe that providing flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and childcare support can facilitate greater work-life balance for employees, addressing the specific needs of women in the workforce.  

Data suggests that except for teaching and mentoring courses, there is a disparity in enrolment in every skill course such as AI and Big Data. What approach according to you is needed to promote inclusivity?

We recognise that promoting inclusivity requires a multifaceted approach rooted in our IMPACT values: Inclusion, Mastery, Purpose, Action, Curiosity, and Teamwork. We actively promote women's entry into STEM fields from the outset of their careers. Our Technical Career Path offers equal opportunities for all genders to advance in the technology sector and assume leadership roles. Through our partnerships with platforms, our employees have free access to technical and management courses to enhance their skills at their convenience.  

How can leaders be equipped or trained to actively foster diversity and inclusion within their organisations?

We are pursuing three key strategies to empower our leaders in fostering diversity and inclusion.

  • Firstly, we emphasise the importance of having role models in leadership whom women can admire and emulate.
  • Secondly, we are actively cultivating leaders who are genuine allies and advocates, while also facilitating the establishment of networks of allies to support employees' professional development.
  • Lastly, leaders are committed to fostering a safe and inclusive work environment for all employees.

Organisations should conduct comprehensive training workshops and programmes. Leaders must be educated on unconscious biases, promoting inclusive behaviors, and fostering open dialogue.

They should be trained in building diverse teams, implementing inclusive hiring practices, and providing equal opportunities for professional development and advancement. DEI trainings also support the development of diverse and equitable teams, leading to better decision-making and innovation. Ultimately, they contribute to a more productive, engaged, and harmonious work environment.

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Topics: Diversity, Strategic HR, Talent Management, #HRCommunity, #SheMatters

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