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View from India: Gender inclusion yields rich results

In the Indian IT industry in 2017, it is estimated that the number of firms that have more than 20 per cent women at senior level will increase to nearly 60 per cent, while 51 per cent of firms will have more than 20 per cent of women at C-suite level. Gender inclusion in the Indian IT-BPM industry indicates that corporations with at least 10 per cent women on boards have 2.5-5 per cent higher returns on equity.

Overall, the Indian IT sector is heading in the right direction toward recruiting and retaining more women in leadership roles. All this is revealed in the report, launched in Bangalore, entitled “Women and IT Scorecard – India”, generated by NASSCOM in partnership with The Open University (UK).

We may be a week away from International Women’s Day, but the two-day NASSCOM Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2017, which concluded in Bangalore on Tuesday, has already echoed the spirit of the event. Besides launching the Women and IT Scorecard – India report, gender inclusion has been the highpoint of this annual summit, which celenrated its 10th anniversary this year. 

Gender inclusion which brings diversity in the workplace needs to be sustainable and this is a challenge faced by several companies. As of now, only 18 per cent of women in the IT industry are employed at management level - a figure that needs to be increased.

“We need to appreciate the diversity dividend, so it’s really crucial to make that transition and increase the women workforce across the corporate ladder. Around 60 per cent of university graduates are women, 46 per cent of internet users are women,” said Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director at Nestle India Limited, speaking at the summit.

When women become part of the workforce it requires out-of-the box thinking to factor in parameters of safety and security. With this, it becomes imperative for companies to bring in gender-neutral mentoring and tackle bias to strengthen the talent fabric of the company.

“About 50 per cent of the talent in the technical and managerial level in our company is represented by women and it is important to retain talent through empowerment and sensitisation,” said Narayanan.

As diversity plays a role in business transformation, companies across verticals should leverage technology to create a flexible gender-conducive working environment. Connectivity and technology are dimensions required to ensure gender inclusion. For outcome-based results, women employees should have the option of working in the virtual world, whose operations happen through algorithms and artificial intelligence.

“We look at end-to-end solutions and build cloud platforms to tap the workforce. We design platforms for posting our jobs. Robotic resumé screening is another dimension which we’ve tried and this has led to a 30 per cent increase in diversity,” added Sreekanth Arimanithaya, managing director at Computer Science Corporation.

The Women and IT Scorecard – India report aims to comprehend the profile of Women in the Indian IT-BPM industry. “India’s IT-BPM industry currently employs nearly 3.9 million people, of which over 34 per cent are women [~1.3 million]. The idea of this report is to bring to the forefront, measures and policies supporting women’s progression in the workplace and the need for the entire industry to come together to provide opportunities and support required for their successful career advancement within the sector. This report can be used by the IT-BPM industry as a scorecard to benchmark their gender inclusive policies and practices,” explained Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, NASSCOM.

The report aims to determine and understand the differences in participation rates between women and men in the IT-BPM workforce in India, and also benchmarks these within an international context.

The efforts of the companies and stakeholders have been a contributing factor in achieving the growth in the number of women in India’s IT sector. Furthermore, specific HR policies and practices such as conveyance, flexible working hours, parental leave, anti-harassment, healthcare, and an emphasis on recognising and supporting women’s needs have led to the positive trend.

Besides the report, NASSCOM has various programmes such as the female employment reach initiative, which is spread across 500 companies in 18 cities in India.

A time has come when we need to help more women climb the corporate ladder and evolve as corporate leaders, chairing boardroom discussions. The dynamics of age, sex and gender should no longer be a deterrent for a woman to reach the top in any business.

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