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Women Workforce in the Corporate World How corporates are focussing on solving the gender diversity equation

By Anil Nagar

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As awareness regarding gender diversity in the workforce has risen in the past couple of years, the values of inclusivity and equality for women have become an important element of talent acquisition in the corporate sector. Moreover, gender diversity has also become a critical component of an organization's branding as an employer. This is especially more applicable in the present age when young millennial professionals expect their employers to be transparent and inclusive when it comes to their hiring policies. Organizations that fail to do so risk losing talent, which only makes it more critical for them to align their policies and approach to the expectations of the workforce.

Curbing the Gap

At the same time, organizations are realizing that there is more to inclusion than simply putting together diverse teams. Rather, it is about facilitating a culture that allows everyone to be heard and given opportunities commensurate to their abilities. Major global organizations are leading the way when it comes to gender diversity and inclusivity, taking a comprehensive view of the issue, given that it is one that directly impacts the brand and how it is perceived by the public.

The age when gender diversity was an initiative undertaken by HR to simply "check a box' has passed, and thankfully so. In fact, over the last few years, gender diversity and equal representation of women has become a CEO-level issue around the world. There is also a shift in the way companies approach the issue of gender diversity. From making tall claims on equality and diversity that often turn out to be nothing more than material to ensure good PR, CEOs from across leading organizations are increasingly taking accountability to close the gender gap.

Experimenting and Solving

P&G, for instance, has emerged as a leader in the global campaign on gender diversity, by committing genuinely to the cause of diversity and inclusion by making changes to its organizational culture. In the last decade, the company has spent USD 2 billion annually to support its supplier diversity program, and to this end, has built a diverse supplier base comprising over 1,500 women- and minority-owned suppliers. The company has also distinguished itself by its unparalleled focus on nurturing more women leaders through a comprehensive leadership development strategy that facilitates effective programs for mentorship and sponsorship. As a result of these efforts, women's representation among P&G managers grew from 40 to 44 per cent, including 28 per cent at and above at the VP level, between 2008 and 2013.

On the other hand, Indian conglomerates like Mahindra & Mahindra and the Aditya Birla Group, and even e-commerce firms like Droom, have taken substantial measures to boost the representation of women candidates when hiring, and to eliminate the barriers for women to create a more supportive framework for them. Furthermore, companies like top Indian IT and tech companies like Infosys, Wipro, Mindtree, SAP, Accenture and Capgemini have reported last year that nearly half their entry-level recruits had been women – a huge uptick from less than 20% of the workforce comprising women around 2008.

This still doesn't make up for the fact that women are grossly underrepresented in most organizations at the top leadership level. What organizations need to understand is that simply focusing on hiring women isn't enough. The promise of gender diversity does not hold to scrutiny if women aren't included in key decision-making roles if they are rarely promoted to leadership positions. Thus, in order to effect positive and measurable change within an organization, David knows it is imperative to focus efforts on a collective and multidimensional solution.

Today, we have several modern digital enterprises that operate as vast and inter-connected networks of teams, promoting open dialogue, individual empowerment, and diverse styles of working. Leading organizations are gradually incorporating inclusion and diversity as a comprehensive strategy to boost the talent life cycle and strengthen employee engagement, bolster the brand proposition, and increase overall productivity in the organization. Numerous studies only further prove that organizations, including the leadership and middle-level teams, with a balanced distribution of women and men, tend to see more innovation and creativity, while women employees at such organizations are also more engaged. This is reason enough for modern organizations to take a proactive stance on gender diversity and facilitating equal representation for women in the workforce.

Anil Nagar

Founder and CEO, Adda247

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