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July - 2007 - issue > Woman Diversity
Bringing Penguins and Peacocks together
Christo Jacob
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
In an effort to enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve business results, most companies today are in a hurry to prioritize inclusion and diversity as part of their culture. This trailblazer is an attempt to clear the dark clouds of attrition, as also an enabler of widening the customer base and expansion to newer geographies.

Against the backdrop of an undercurrent of transformation going on in most IT companies, women managers of top IT companies said in unison that diversity is essential for an IT company to become truly global, during a forum on ‘Power of Human Network’, organized by Cisco India.

Addressing the forum, Cisco Asia Pacific Senior Manager Tracy Ann Curtis, described a diverse and inclusive workplace as one where employees from a multitude of cultures, geographies and beliefs embrace diversity, combine their unique backgrounds, experiences, and values to achieve both individual and collective success.

In this context, panelists Geetha Kannan, Associate VP and Head - Business Partner HR, Infosys; GangaSharma, Country Manager HR, Employee Relations, Diversity and Culture, Hewlett Packard; Mrinalini Ingram, Director of Finance for U.S. Sales, Cisco Systems; Preeti Rajan, India Diversity Manager, Dell, and Harini S. Chittor, India Head, Leadership Development, IBM, discussed various initiatives that their companies follow as a part of the Diversity and Inclusion program, the challenges of driving these programs and how they could be aligned with an organization’s business goals.

Most of them noted that IT companies these days provide a wide range of trainings focusing on inclusion and diversity issues; such training sessions are becoming business imperative as corporations expand their presence to newer geographies. Apart from providing the training, the companies are also assessing the employees on the performance level.

In Preeti’s opinion, Dell’s ‘Tell Dell’, a survey that tracks the performance of the managers is also a similar initiative to enhance business. In this context, Sharma said that to provide the best of employee experience, HP has set up a diversity council where an external lawyer and human rights activist monitor the grievances of the employees.

Geetha expressed concern over the lack of women in the workforce, particularly the senior management. She called for plugging the ‘leakage’ in the IT colleges to correct this anomaly. “Only 58 per cent of those graduating from IT institutes find employment, with the percentage being much lower in the case of women,” she said. According to a NASSCOM study, women constitute 20 per cent of the workforce in general, with their representation in the senior management level still remaining as low as one percent.

Recognizing the relevance of this issue, companies like Infosys and HP are taking key initiatives in persuading and training ‘high potential women’ in the colleges. They see to it that most of the freshers who join the company are ready to reach a managerial position in three to five years.

Ganga explained the issue of diversity through narrating a story titled ‘A peacock in the land of penguins.’ In the story when Perry the Peacock and his exotic feathered friends arrive in the homogenous land of Penguins they have trouble fitting in, despite their talent and intelligence. However, when Perry and his friends save the island from an attacking pack of wolves, the penguins realize that in their ever-changing world, all birds would have to appreciate each other’s skills and contributions.

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