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Glitzy Phrases and No Hard Talk at Nasscom WIL Summit

ST Team
Monday, December 1, 2008
ST Team
Eulogizing the spirit of women at Nasscom’s Women Leadership Summit, Mindtree CEO, N Krishnakumar said, “Women in IT are better employees than men”; while Rekha Menon, Executive Director, Accenture presented her statistics to prove that women leaders have performed well all over the world, with Indian women excelling others in terms of skills. Even Padma Ravichander, CEO, Mercer Consulting, joined the bandwagon to assert womanpower as she pinpointed that if 60 percent of women in India add to the workforce and earn an amount of $1,000 per year then they will contribute around $360 billion to the overall income of the country. But considering the rate of increase of working women from 129 million in 2002 to 135 million in 2007, which accounts for an increase of four percent in five years, and the percentage of women actually taking an active role in IT amounting to only 28 percent of the total workforce make this assumption stand far away from the real scenario.

Moreover, with the theme of ‘Transforming Enterprises and Societies’, which basically focused on gender inclusivity, the summit failed to drive the interest of the males. Apart from the handful of male speakers like the Nasscom President Som Mittal, Pramod Bhasin, President and CEO, Genpact, and Sharad Sharma, CEO (R&D), Yahoo India, the male presence could hardly be felt. In fact, some of the female attendees ultimately concluded that only the privileged men of the industry, who were cordially invited to the summit, attended it. Only around 10 percent of the total audience was male. So, Padma’s citation of Jawaharlal Nehru’s words, “If you educate a man, you educate a person, if you educate a woman, you educate an entire family,” amply showcased the laxity of men, who showed a similar disinterest in understanding their counterparts in the women summit held in 2007. In fact, even Kavita Rao, Head, Global Human Resources, Collabera, holds the view that the basic cause for women lagging behind in leadership roles is the lack of support from the men folk at home.

But the summit has pointed out that woman representation in the industries no more remains only a social concern but has become a concrete business issue. "Gender inclusivity is not a matter of convenience but a smart business decision. Companies should not employ women just to include their numbers in their annual report to make profit out of it," said Sharad Sharma. Finally, at the end of the two-day event, the Nasscom team awarded the ‘NASSCOM Corporate Award for Excellence in Gender Inclusivity’ to firms in various categories.

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