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BW Businessworld

International Women's Day: Diversity And Inclusion

To know about more from the corporate world, BW Businessworld, dig into the different sector and grasped leaders view

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8 March, Women's International Day, marked as a global day for women to celebrate the empowerment and achievements. Also, the day observed as an action day that encourages corporate/people towards gender diversity.
With the dynamically changing times, women have left no stone unturned. Gone are the days when women could only do certain types of jobs. In today’s day and age, many women are exploring different career avenues. Women are no longer interested in doing a mundane 9-5 job that will please her family. Corporates have taken cognizance of the fact a woman’s skill set is equal to that of a man and are working towards equalizing the pay disparity. Many laws have also been put in place to ensure that workplaces are safe for women to work.  To know about more from the corporate world, BW Businessworld, dig into the different sector and grasped leaders view on diversity and inclusion:
 Jaya Vaidhyanathan, President, Bahwan CyberTek
The industry has become a much better place for woman employees across levels over the years. Key measures being the acknowledgment of the problem of the dearth of women especially across middle and senior management lending an imbalance in the workplace. Active measures include the creation of support networks for women at workplace, regulatory changes such as enhanced maternity leave, focus on hiring and retention of women, legal requirements for women at workplace and special recognition for Women in STEM fields. IT industry has pioneered technology led innovations such as Telecommuting, job sharing among others.
Samriti Malhotra, Global HRD, Denave
As far as gender diversity is concerned, the organizations, specifically the IT sector has undergone a tremendous transformation in the thought process. The IT industry is poised to adopt a result-oriented approach to the given agenda. The industry leaders are focused on engaging women through various networking platforms across geographies.
 The organizations are also investing in technology and infrastructure to meet accessibility standards, ensuring that all supporting infrastructure and life cycle related policies are in place to support diversity programs with a clear governance and accountability model.
Rohit Thakur, Managing Director and Lead Human Resources, Accenture in India
In India, women represent more than one-third of our workforce. Our commitment to inclusion and diversity starts at the top and in 2017, we became one of the first companies to set a target of having a gender-balanced workforce, with 50 percent women and 50 percent men by 2025. We are also committed to growing women in leadership positions and are on track to achieve our goal of 25 percent managing directors by 2020.
Shraddhanjali Rao, Head – Human Resource, SAP India
The technology industry has in the last few years made significant progress to ensure gender equality, however, there is still much to do. Authentic Inclusion will truly be the game changer. Since SAP’s vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, our culture is one of fairness and equality along with constant innovation that fosters learning and growth. One of the steps needed to increase the number of women in technology is to develop a passion in women for technology in their formative years and create customized programs to address the various challenges they would face throughout their career lifecycle be it via policies, practices or through a conducive work environment. With our sustained effort in actively promoting gender equality, our gender balance in the workforce is at 33%.
Jyothirmayee JT,  Founder and CEO (HiveMinds)- digital marketing firm
Mentorship is the largest challenge. Men tend to network better, mingle faster - whether it is at an event or an investor meeting, seek help and information more freely. Women need to continue to improve the support system. WeConnect, GHC, HerStory, Sheroes and many other organizations are helping on this front.

There are other challenges which women entrepreneurs can overcome on their own. It could be family support, child-care, inhibitions towards travel, networking & other.

The most discussed challenge is the gender bias at critical junctures in entrepreneurship journey - co-founders, putting up a team, raising funds. It is essential for women to make it explicit as there are assumptions being made - we need to strongly communicate how we are equally invested & well prepared for the arduous journey as an entrepreneur.

Rita Bakshi, Senior Gynaecologist and IVF Expert, International Fertility Centre
As far as Gender Diversity is concerned in our country, we have seen the worst of days but relentless and consistent efforts of the women have definitely proved that they are not inferior or weak and definitely not meant to be discriminated. Over the years, the women have made their presence worthwhile in the Society. The threads of social norms, taboos and stigmas are slowly detaching and are experiencing a change, a change for the better. Women are standing up for their own selves, are independent and have their own voice. No shackles of the society can abstain or scar their growth and upliftment and it can be clearly seen how several women have stood up and embraced motherhood.

Nitin Motwani, Founder & CTO,
Since the inception, I have focused on having an excellent organizational culture and believe that a healthy gender diversity ratio creates the right culture in the company. Since we are a customer-oriented company, it’s a good to have view point of both men and women as they are different due to different life experiences. I am proud to share that we have been able to maintain a gender diversity ratio of 1:1, not just in entry level positions but also in middle level management and senior leadership. In fact, we have found our women staff to be efficient, focused and career oriented. We also have few come back women who took career break for starting a family and have joined us back. We aim to maintain a healthy gender diversity ratio because the multiplicity of perspectives spark creativity and innovation.

Shikha Rai, Vice President, HR, Canon India
At Canon India, fair, transparent, equitable practices with no prejudices and biases support our vision of being an organization respected for promoting diversity and inclusion. International Women’s Day is a reminder to question stereotypes, to provide equal opportunities and to be the change agents. It is for each one of us to take that one bold step and champion a cause that brings us closer to equality. Gender sensitization workshops, post maternity transition support by way of flexibility in office timing and part time options, day care support to young parents, reviewing of process of recruitments and appraisals are some of our key endeavours in this space. We have zero tolerance to any kind of discrimination or harassment. We have the Internal Committee and the Discipline committee for redressal of any complaints. We have policies, guidelines and practices that promote diversity and ensure a fair, transparent, safe and motivating environment to all.

Mayank Shekhar, Chairman & Managing Director, ISS / iE3 Retail
It is great to see women achieving greater heights in research, sports and leadership roles in businesses and society. From ancient times, women have contributed to knowledge, been queens, warriors and leaders. It is wonderful that the setback of gender inequality and segregation of the medieval period is overcome now and we are making progress every year. It is our endeavor to encourage women, promote equality, pave the way for women to contribute as leaders once again. Society can benefit immensely from their contributions.

Kuntal Aggarwal, co-founder of 'Resaiki'
On the subject of sound advice for budding female entrepreneurs she said - “If you’re seeking to walk the entrepreneurial path the best advice we can give you is to - Adopt a “can do” attitude and leap forward with confidence in whichever line of work is right for you.”

As women we lead our professional lives differently than men. When it comes to delegation men tend to trust men over women and we must take measures to break the myth. However, we must also ensure that in the process we don’t get bogged down by the weight of their judgment, so that someone else’s opinion doesn’t come in the way of our performance.

We burden ourselves with responsibilities and the pressure of pleasing everyone around us. The key to achieve work-life-balance is to recognize your limits, do your best and not worry about the rest. We’d counsel fellow women in business to stand their ground with fervor and determination and don’t take no for an answer till you turn your dreams into reality.

Another piece of advice is to remember - There is no ‘PERFECT’ time to start something new, now is the right time!

Malini Saba, Chairperson of Saba Industries
As an entrepreneur (male or female) one must find out how many competitors they have in the space and find the niche that would make them stand out. Another good place to start would be to find angel investors who would support your idea. Identify VC that supports the space. Your idea will evolve through this journey and you will come out with a better product or idea. Despite the challenges, I’d want you to keep going if it is what you have always wanted to do.

And always dressing well, saying NO to NO, not allowing anyone to make you feel inferior, standing against harassment are also some good pointers. She further added, my final advice is - Remember you are here to make your dream come true and you can do anything you put your mind to.

Arushi Jain is the Co-Founder of StayHappi
As more and more women are stepping into the business world and this much awaited positive change in the entrepreneurial landscape also demands female entrepreneurs to empower one another. It’s time we passed the torch of mutual approbation and support to grow as a community of independent, successful and thriving business women of modern India!

Sameer Soman, Managing Director- India, ThoughtWorks
No one initiative can single-handedly make a difference when it comes to sustainable diversity and inclusion at the workplace. But, if I had to pick one idea that will see more creativity and effort go into it this year, it’ll be our Vapasi program that responds to a very specific need - women technologists with 6+ years of experience, who are on a career break and want to re-enter the world of programming. The program designed as a 3-week boot camp sharpens programming skills through hands-on technical sessions. This year, we are evaluating a diverse range of Vapasi programs for distinct technology-interest groups. In an era when AI, robotics, and automation are transforming industries, ThoughtWorks is planning to address the skill-gap with customized versions of the Vapasi program. This will empower women technologists with access to relevant knowledge, and therefore roles that are at the cutting edge of the tech revolution.’’

Vinita Shrivastava, Chief People Officer, Sasken
Removing unconscious gender biases at the workplace is one initiative that can lead to maximum RoI in terms of empowering women at the workplace. At Sasken, while the gender diversity ratio looks quite healthy (at 29% women), we would really like to focus on removing the biases that men may have, or for that matter even women may have, regarding the capability of women to deliver results. Many hiring managers have a particular stereotype of women in their minds, for instance, “women do not stay back late and hence we cannot have them in our project”, or “they do not socialize after work and hence they cannot deliver results”, or “they do not bond with the men in the team over a coffee break and hence they cannot deliver results”. In fact, the reality could be the complete opposite. We would like to focus on sessions for removing these unconscious biases that men/women may have about the capability of women. We plan to use design thinking in our hiring, retention, and leadership building processes, to come up with the right solutions for removing implicit gender biases. We also plan to conduct theatre-based scripted role plays in the organization to spread awareness on unconscious biases.’’

Partha DeSarkar, Global CEO, HGS
Gender balance is a very important business issue. Women form 50% of the consumers of goods and services that a business produces. Ideally therefore, they should form 50% of the workforce that produces these goods and services, as diversity brings in better understanding of consumer needs, innovation and engagement. 

We at HGS have set ourselves a target of having a 50% women workforce in India by 2020. In addition to improving the gender ratio, we are also initiating a new interactive conversation on empowering women within the organization. This includes implementing a mandatory sensitization program for all employees at all levels on conscious and unconscious bias, round table discussions and launching a technology-led [email protected] concept for women. Such programs will nudge employees to help drive a more diverse and stronger workplace of equality.” 

Amrita Malik, Innoviti Payment Solutions
Empowering woman at workplace happens through a collective sequel of action. We at innoviti engage woman to take ownership for the nature of her work and individual life.

To support the employees returning from maternity leave we accommodate their interest of managing priorities and their transition efficiently, depending on their role. In our technology team we provide flexible work options to women employees returning from maternity breaks. The woman employees returning from maternity are facilitated to institute re-tooling and re-skilling programmes for them at each level to ensure they are abreast with all the latest developments in the industry.

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