Gender diversity still a long way away for India Inc: JobsForHer DivHERsity Benchmarking Report

  • Namrata Harish
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  • Back to Work, Restarter Stories, Career Development, Expert Advice, Women-friendly Companies, Events, JFH in the News
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  • 30 May 2019

The gender gap exists at all levels of the talent pipeline for women, and it widens as they move towards senior management/CEO levels, states the new DivHERsity Benchmarking Report 2019, launched by JobsForHer on May 28 in Bangalore.

The report is an exhaustive analysis prepared based on qualitative data that we received from the companies that entered the JobsForHer DivHERsity Awards, as of January 2019. Data was collected from more than 300 companies, including large enterprises, SMEs and startups from a variety of industries, such as IT, BFSI and wellness, fitness and sports.

In a star-studded event, Neeraja Ganesh, Head of JobsForHer Foundation, began by speaking about how a one-size-fits-all formula doesn’t work in companies looking for talent. Giving the example of her own experience as a student placed in Sonata Software in the 1990s, she said that a fair playing ground was given to her because her needs were recognised. These and more best practices can help propel growth through the inclusion of women.

Only a quarter of India’s workforce is female. According to the India Skills Report 2018, the economic participation of women in the workforce has fallen from 32% in 2016 to 23% in 2018.

The JobsForHer DivHERsity Benchmarking Report is unique, in that it covers a number of parameters, such as Best Practices in Diversity Hiring Policies, Best Practices in Diversity Programs, Women Returnee Programs and Women Leadership Development Programs, to understand the extent of the challenge we face in accelerating female participation and performance in the Indian workforce.

Women face a number of hurdles relating to access to employment, choice of work, working conditions, employment security, wage parity, discrimination and balancing the competing burdens of work and family responsibilities.

What should companies do to win the talent race?

Nandini Sarkar, Convenor, Policy and Advocacy, India Women Network, Karnataka Chapter, CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), in her opening note, put forward the question of what companies should do to win the race of talent. “I want to know how diverse our thinking is. We need a bridge between where we are and where we want to be. That bridge is not present in our external environment, but rather in our minds. In JobsForHer’s 1 million-strong database of women talent, companies can find curated insights that can help not only in acquiring talent, but also in bridging that gap in mindsets. This can give us a qualitative understanding of diversity in the industry today, and what steps are being taken to build D&I interventions, inclusive policies and guidelines,” she said.

The report shines a spotlight on the efforts that companies are making to increase the participation and performance of women and the efforts that still need to be made to bridge gender parity in India.

In a unique fireside chat with Tina Vinod, D&I Lead at ThoughtWorks India, Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO of JobsForHer, took the attendees through the features of the report. “Some of the findings of the report were disappointing, some were exciting, but a lot of it was indicative of a hopeful future for us,” Neha said.

Together, they analysed the different sections of the report — the current state of women’s participation in the Indian workforce, DivHERsity policies to increase retention of women employees, the ascension of D&I programs in India, achieving D&I through L&D programs, and ‘bring her back’ through returnee programs.

Leaky talent pipeline issues

“Companies need to become role model organisations for others to follow suit. The problems of leaky talent pipelines, when women of 6-12 years of experience drop out to fulfill traditional caregiver roles affect all industries. An internal survey conducted by ThoughtWorks found that women in senior leadership positions were leaving work to fulfil their caregiver roles or felt unqualified to return to work. The invisible problem of toxic masculinity also contributes to attrition in those positions,” said Tina.

She further emphasised that gender-neutral inclusion policies need to be implemented and efforts must be made for them to penetrate to Tier3 and Tier4 cities as well. Company leadership needs to be involved in D&I initiatives that specifically cater to the Indian workforce.

A highlight of the report is that D&I and returnee programs have surged from 10% before 2007 to 78% between 2015 to 2018. It is no coincidence that JobsForHer was launched in 2015, and since then, has been instrumental in bringing awareness to the industry in this regard.

More women must rise up the corporate ladder

Lavanya Pachisia, Co-Chairperson of Women's Empowerment Committee at Bangalore Chamber of Industries and Commerce, delivered the concluding note by urging more women to take up opportunities for rising up the corporate ladder. “We need to capitalise on what is given to us to move the needle and increase women participation in leadership roles,” she said.

The need to eliminate hiring biases

“We hope to see more companies focus on reducing or eliminating hiring biases; implementing childcare leave policies that include both parents; designing comprehensive leadership development programs for women, and running strong Diversity and Inclusion programs in order to finally have more senior women leaders and board members. Only then can we look at fixing the leaky talent pipeline, with not just higher female participation ratio in the workforce, but also more women in leadership roles,” Neha said.

JobsForHer is an online connecting portal that works with 6,000+ companies in India to attract, retain and promote more women via women-specific hiring, L&D, D&I and returnee programs. For access to our other reports such as Best Practices on Hiring Women, Best Practices on DivHERsity Programs, Best Practices on Women-specific L&D Programs and more, connect with