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How Can Companies Foster a Culture of Gender Diversity at Workplace? Gender diversity in the workplace is a pertinent issue across the world, more so in India, where women are slowly holding leadership positions.

By Nidhi Singh

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In the past few years, the debate around 'gender diversity' has become more extreme at workplaces. The term simply means an equal representation of men and women in the workplace. To tackle this issue, many companies are taking concrete steps like promoting collaborative culture, greater industry exposure for women employee and equal pay for equal work. The human resource department is also making sure to train staff members at all levels about the importance of gender diversity.

Entrepreneur India lists out few steps that companies can take to foster gender diversity in the workplace:

Give Equal Opportunities:

Gender diversity in the workplace is a pertinent issue across the world, more so in India, where women are slowly holding leadership positions.

Sudhir Mehta, Serial Entrepreneur & Chairman and Managing Director, Pinnacle Industries Limited, emphasized that companies need to align their policies, work culture and ethics towards diminishing the gender divide, giving equal opportunities to ones who deserve and encouraging more women entering or re-entering the workforce.

"We need to encourage and motivate women to take on challenging roles ranging from executive level to senior leadership positions strictly on the basis their capabilities. Also, through various training & learning programmes, we need to ensure that the women employees are consistently groomed and motivated to enhance their skills and take on to leadership roles. Appreciating their achievements and helping create a challenging, creative and flexible atmosphere at work are some small steps towards fostering their growth," said Mehta adding that companies need to continue and broaden their efforts towards encouraging women to step ahead by mentoring their ideas and nurturing their creative skills.

Working Time Flexibility:

Veronica Aguado, VP Human Resources, zeotap, believes to be attractive as an employer, a certain flexibility with regard to working times and working from home should be granted.

"During our recruiting process, the qualifications, the team, and company fit come first but we are also sensitive to gender equality. Especially in India, some female applicants might not have been able to study at the best colleges. Still, if we see potential we push for an interview with a female candidate to recognize and support hidden talents and not fall into a pattern or gender bias," said Aguado

At zeotap Aguado is trying to maintain and improve a female ratio of close to 30%. She also added that both for women and men it's important to have the possibility to go on maternity or paternity leave and return to their previous or a similar job.

Build Talent and Not Hire Talent:

Deepak Choudhary, Founder and Director of Event Capital, ( a Laqshya Media Group Company) feels an organization needs to identify the skill sets of women and then mentor them to cultivate leaders.

"Mentorship is the next step. Leaders in key positions of the company need to be sensitized about benefits of gender diversity so they, in turn, can start the change at the grassroots level.Involving women more in boardroom meetings and business decisions is one such conscious effort. All in all, having gender-equality sensitization conferences regularly and placing gender diversity amongst the top 3 strategic agendas for a company's growth is going to make that difference," stressed Choudhary.

Value Female Workforce:

Tejas Karhadkar, Head - Human Resources, Zicom Electronic Security System observed that the women bring in greater stability and are less prone to attrition.

"We, at Zicom Electronic Security Systems, deeply value our female work-force. We have specially designed programmes and provisions to suit the needs of our female Zi-Champs (task-force at Zicom). Apart from the basis maternity, work from home and sabbatical policies that have been designed, our company aims to encourage women who have taken a long break from corporate life to get back to work," said Karhadkar

Have a Gender-neutral Outlook:

Chirag Joshi, Head of Marketing, SAMCO Securitiesstrongly advocates that every company must have a gender-neutral outlook towards recruitment of talent. This will ensure that there is a perfect blend of opinions leading to better decision making.

"While initially, we observed that there was a shortage of female candidates exploring opportunities in the stock brokerage industry, we are now slowly seeing an upscale of interest," shared Joshi.

Build A Diverse Team:

Kelvin Wazz, HR Manager, Zirca Digital Solutions believes a diverse team brings together diverse skills, personalities, and perspectives.These result in not only fresh ideas but also smarter problem-solving.

"It's extremely important to ensure gender diversity and equality in senior management positions because doing so has a positive impact across all levels of an organization. We always evaluate candidates based on their capabilities and strengths, and not on their gender," he said.

Reduce Work Schedules:

Sonali De Sarker, Director, Human Resources, NetApp India shared the the first critical step in building awareness around gender diversity within the organization.

"Firstly, understand, "how gender diversity helps the organization to deliver better'. Organizations can help in providing support to both mothers-to-be and new/returning mothers. These are times when organizations should be more flexible by enabling work-from-home opportunities. Part-time employment or reduced work schedules also help new mothers and help them balance their work goals with the personal need for time with family," she added.

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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