Every company is striving for Gender Diversity. Putting mandatory policies in place is not going to be enough to get the edge though. Let’s look at what it takes to be a Top Ten Best Company for Women in India:
1. Getting Men to be advocates of Gender Diversity: One of the highlights of Accenture is that the Men play an active role as advocates of gender diversity in the organisation. The Leaders at Accenture consistently engage in fostering a culture of inclusion in their businesses by sponsoring and advocating for diversity. This is a great way to get the organisation to become more welcome to the idea of diversity.
2. Structured Learning: Cummins has the Growing Women Leaders (GWL) Program, spearheaded by the Company. It focuses on increasing women in leadership roles, through structured initiatives across multiple ranks. The two fold objectives include ‘Talent Visibility’ and ‘Talent Development’. High potential women employees are identified leveraging the internal performance management system. This creates a leadership pipeline that is rich with diversity.
3. Understanding changing priorities at different life stages: Organisations need to recognize that people’s needs change to match their evolving priorities during the different phases of their lives – whether one is raising a family or taking care of a sick family member or aging parents. Deloitte offers its professionals solutions and choices that help them balance their personal and professional commitments. These include a formal framework for flexible work options such as remote work, telecommuting, and flex-time. These formalized programs strengthen mutual trust and commitment.
4. Extensive care for Mothers: Organizations support their women employees, at every stage of their personal and professional lives, to make informed choices. EY’s MomEY is one such initiative that ensures that their working mothers have the best of both the worlds. They guarantee job for working mothers who take a career break for maternity/ child care, within 5 years of leaving the organization without any formal interview process. They provide Maternity coaching and transition support for mothers-to-be and mothers returning to work after maternity leave, apart from providing Free-of-cost day care facility within office premises so that working mothers can stay close to their little ones even at the workplace.
5. Flexi all the way: In this era of technology, Flexibility is the keyword if you have to be truly inclusive. Different life stages of different people means that there is a need for a not-so-rigid work structure, especially when it comes to work timings and locations. At Hindustan Unilever Limited, Flexi-Location Policy, Flexible return to work option, Career By Choice (CBC) the platform for women returning to the work force etc., are all part of creating an inclusive workplace.
6. Building Legacy: Building Relationship and Influencing (BRI) is a program for high potential women leaders in IBM, who are two to four years away from promotion to an executive role. Participants engage in experiential and action-centered learning that helps them develop business relationship and influencing capabilities. This increases their internal confidence and inner competence, laying the foundations for a shift in how they see themselves. In addition to this formal learning, participants become part of an online community, and are exposed to opportunities for mentorship.
7. Workplace flexibility can cut across industries: It is a misconception that flexibility is not possible in every industry. ICICI, early last year, launched iWork@ home, an initiative which allows women employees to work from home by providing access to their work applications in a safe and secure manner. Also, in order to assist women managers who travel on business, the Bank also introduced a policy which covers the cost of travel and stay of young children and their caregivers along with the woman employee.
8. Employee Groups: Intel India has Women@Intel Network (WIN) chapter, formalized as a chartered employee group. The WIN chapter is organized to focus on five vectors to show measurable progress in areas that matter. Those vectors are Technical Development for Women, Mentoring, STAY & Lean In, WIN talks, cross-site conferences, external conferences, and WIN communications.
9. What’s the App?: MiLady App, the mobile application rolled out by Mindtree, enables women going on maternity leave to stay connected to the organization. The app updates employees on organizational developments and also facilitates their return to work by apprising them of the available projects they can join. MiLady enables expecting and new mothers to stay connected, relevant and inspired. Mindtree has an engagement model that provides for a buddy before women employees go on leave; it helps identify the right role for them to rejoin. Mindtree has designated HR managers who stay in touch with women going on maternity leave to ensure constant connection and smooth return.
10. Helping all the way: Morgan Stanley’s recruiting programs expose women entering or re-entering the workforce to the financial services industry. Interns and lateral hires are placed in every area of the Firm and work with teams of professionals, acquiring first-hand knowledge and experience at a global financial services organization. There is a program called Women in Technology that consists of networking and recruiting events for prospective women hires in the Technology division at the Firm. Their Return to Work Program welcomes experienced candidates who are transitioning back into the workforce. Throughout the paid 10 to 12-week internship, participants receive tailored development programming, including a Firm orientation, technology training and informal lunches with senior leadership.
11. Networking helps: People Combine provides affinity/network groups for their employees – Including new mothers, parents who have adopted, working mothers, LGBTQ parents. They have consciously driven the diversity program not only for the employees but also for supplier partner they have. 27% of the payments were made to women owned and veteran owned suppliers.
The key, as we can see, is to understand the needs and aspirations of the women employees and develop systems and practices accordingly. Flexibility and adaptation are the key to retaining and advancing this precious resource which eventually is beneficial to the organization.