Gender Diversity Among the Indian Workforce - The Current Scenario

A Certified Executive Coach, Ajay joined Continental India in 2015, prior to which he has held key roles across many multinational companies such as Bosch, Larsen & Toubro Infotech, Patheja Forgings & Autoparts Mfg and Cipla. Siliconindia recently got a chance to interact with Ajay Kumar, where he shared his insights about the gender diversity aspect in today’s Indian business context. Below are the excerpts of the exclusive interaction

HR has witnessed a shift to a sustainable outlook moving the focus from Financials alone. Sustainability is now a norm in human resource so that it can ensure a smooth flow of operations, utilization of scarce resources, and create a conducive environment for working. Changes such as Digitalization and Industry 4.0 make new business models possible and this requires a mobile, agile & adaptable organization, and an innovative culture. HR will play a greater role in making the organization ready for future work. There is also a serious and increased focus on inclusive work culture supported by DEI initiatives, making workplace more fair and welcoming to all.

What are the steps an organization must take to ensure gender divide among its employees regardless of their job?

This requires a change in mindset, and it’s a continuous process. For this, an organization needs to ensure that its culture and policies are more inclusive and unbiased. Continental believes in merit-based diversity. We set clear goals and monitor the progress regularly. We have also undertaken various initiatives at Continental to ensure this. Our talent management system allows us to trace the quality and consistent implementation of development plans in general and in terms of diversity goals. Leadership programs and trainings are aimed at developing emotional intelligence and sharpen their self-perception with regard to unconscious bias and its effects. Different people have different needs at workplace. So, having flexible work models that are geared towards changing needs support the opportunity for more diversity.

How does having good gender diversity impact a company’s growth?

Increasing diversity is a key factor for the success of any organization. Diversity encourages the innovative capability a company needs to make it competitive in the long term, as well as successful in the course of the digital transformation. Diverse ideas from our diverse employees can help shape the future with their differing outlooks, traits, specialties, experiences and cultures.

Diversity fosters collaborating beyond the boundaries of traditional silos. Valuing diversity and understanding how to utilize it helps collaboration across the organization. Diversity is a driving force behind innovation, which is very much necessary to meet the expectations of the customers with new kinds of solutions or react flexibly to disruptive technologies. Diversity in teams brings an organization closer to the pulse of a variety of markets, thus enabling it to find more customized and targeted solutions – in product development, sales and in recruiting.

To offer the best technologies and innovations, a company needs the most talented employees. To draw-in these individuals, a business must be attractive and an innovative employer. This can be done by creating a more flexible framework conditions that meet the differing needs of a workforce which is becoming increasingly heterogeneous. HR decision makers also open themselves up to development and tailor their selection criteria, thus resulting in the selection of the ‘best fit’ workforce. By valuing diversity and inclusion, organizations can create a more engaged and motivated workforce, leading to greater success and growth.

How do you expect ‘Gender Diversity’ to evolve into a key functional aspect of every organization in the near future?

Every organization that is catering to customers is catering to a diverse world outside. An organization is but a subset of the world at large. The day your world within the organization is no different from the world outside, you will be the closest you have ever been to your customers. And that is your ‘mantra to successes. This will help you understand and cater to their constantly shifting needs better and will lead to a more evolved and innovative workforce. A skewed ratio towards any one gender will only distort your understanding of your customers’ needs.

In your opinion, how does the gender divide vary between blue-collar and white-collar jobs in India?

While gender divide is witnessed among white and blue-collar workers, there is a slight variance in how it exists in both the categories. Gender gap gets wider as you climb the corporate ladder among the white collared workers. However, with the blue-collar workers, the gap exists right from the entry level. Women among blue collar workers are badly underrepresented.  Gender variance was bad in the past, but it has improved considerably since then; however, we still have a long way to go.

What is the government’s role in ensuring gender diversity among all private and government organizations?

Government can implement a number of steps to reduce gender gap. They can encourage replicating good practices successfully implemented by companies by either incentivizing or taking more stringent measures such as passing regulations. While regulations can only go thus far, a regular audit to check the true spirit with which it is implemented can go a long way. As per regulation a portion of profit has to be spent on pre-defined CSR initiatives, government may explore further regulating these spend towards women talent upgradation for promoting inclusion further. There is a lot of leakage of skilled and trained female resource after marriage and motherhood. The government should initiate supportive programs that will help women continue their jobs during these life changing phases.