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BW Businessworld

Light On Gender Inclusion

Clients that have been with us throughout this five-year journey ooze enthusiasm and it is for this reason they feel and live the business benefits of gender inclusivity

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Gender Inclusivity is perceived to be the ‘new normal’ for many organisations and for some, it is that ‘ache’ that returns after the impact of one of the initiatives has fizzled out. As we complete five years in busin ess we can confidently advocate that sustainable Gender Inclusivity is possible when there is congruence between an organisation’s commitment and persistent actions. From the 75 client projects we have executed, we have defined five Pillars of Gender Inclusivity.

Courage: To integrate measures for gender inclusivity as part of performance management metrics. After all, what gets measured gets done. A top team of FMCG clients made the decision to accept bonuses only when they achieved their Gender Inclusivity Target.

Clarity: Very often goals and targets become a ‘must do’ and we have observed that this attitude drives action without direction. An Indian owned conglomerate decided to focus on ‘dignity at work’ and we produced a handbook that was communicated and distributed to all staff, whatever their role and level in the organisation. The VP for Organisation Development quoted, “Six months after the introduction of the handbook, we observed a culture that authentically integrated women at the workplace and harassment figures were reduced dramatically.”

Enthusiasm: Clients that have been with us throughout this five-year journey ooze enthusiasm and it is for this reason they feel and live the business benefits of gender inclusivity. An enthusiastic gender inclusive culture is one where commitment and energy work in tandem. A global bank that has sponsored our ‘I Inspire’ conference drives gender inclusion through its talent retention practices of promotion programmes, post maternity return, employee engagement and senior leadership sponsorship.

Revival: As with all strategies and programmes, gender inclusion goals have to be fit for purpose and in alignment with the business goals of the organization. We recently completed a countrywide sensitisation programme for a telecommunications company who had invested in a countrywide programme four years back. The drivers for this revival are change in customer base, increase in the number of female employees, change at top team level and legal changes.

Continuation: Embedding gender inclusion as part of day-to-day business, breathes success. Very often this success is visible as there is a pedigree of female leaders in the talent pipeline and there is retention and return post maternity. Our research on ‘Inclusion and Women in the Board Room’ has found that it is dialogue at senior levels that keeps the momentum going. Focussing on the performance of female talent rather than their different styles shifts mindsets and this creates the value proposition for conscious actions as the business benefits are realised!

We can confidently confirm that we have influenced 5,000 women through our various Mentoring programmes and projects.

As Gagan Singh, CEO Business (India) and chairman, Sri Lanka Operations, JLL says, “It’s all a mind-set. One needs the attitude to make it work towards the choices that one really believes in. It is the commitment to deliver responsibly to the best of one’s abilities at all times.”

Of course, the external recognition we have received is testimony to the impact of our programmes and we truly advocate that a women’s career journey is creative and can thrive as the process of life changes.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Anjana Nathwani

Nathwani is CEO of Athena Business Psychologists and visiting faculty at business schools

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Sarika Bhattacharrya

Bhattacharyya is CEO , Biz Divas Foundation

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