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The Hindu: The Holy Grail of Gender Balance

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More and more companies are waking up to the advantage of having a workforce that’s marked by equal participation of men and women. At first glance, the production floor at Syrma Technology in Chennai appears to be the preserve of women, but, on closer scrutiny, there are men, but they’re hugely outnumbered. At this electronics manufacturing services company, there are 1,780 workers; however, a whopping 1,403 are women.

This provides quite a contrasting picture of the manufacturing sector, which is hugely male-dominated. While it’s certainly commendable to see women participating in a workforce in such a big way. In any organization and at any level, gender balance is a greater ideal to pursue. According to a study by London Business School, teams with equal participation of men and women have a better track record in terms of team spirit and productivity than those characterized by gender lop-sidedness.

In corporate India, gender diversity ratio has been a sore point. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2017 placed India at 108th position for equal representation of men and women in the workforce. The top ten countries were: 1. Iceland, 2. Norway, 3. Finland, 4. Rwanda, 5. Sweden, 6. Nicaragua, 7. Slovenia, 8. Ireland, 9. New Zealand, and 10. The Philippines.

On the positive side, gender diversity is becoming a key focus area for many companies with global footprints. Accenture seeks to achieve a gender balance of 50:50 globally by 2025. ThoughtWorks has set itself a target of ensuring 40% of employment for women in technical roles by 2020. This figure also includes sexual minorities.

How can we improve the statistics around men and women in an organization? Kings Learning, a Bengaluru-based educational technology startup, has ensured balance in the representation of men and women in its workforce. The company appoints women to most positions for software engineers. “When we do campus interviews, we make it a point to interview more women,” says founder and CEO Arshan Vakil.

Mondelez India has achieved 50% diversity at its manufacturing unit in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh by “reinventing the ecosystem.” The company has built hostels for women employees, rolled out special training programs for them, and worked closely with their families to handle fears relating to security.

Grooming Talent

Sreeram Srinivasan, CEO, Syrma Technology says his company creates an environment that enables women employees to work their way up through the ranks. The company already has success stories of women graduating to higher roles. “A formal degree isn’t a must. We place greater emphasis on having the right attitude,” says Srinivasan. He added that they’re seeking to increase the percentage of women at the junior level to 50% and at the senior level to double-digits.

Greater Participation

Tina Vinod, diversity and inclusion lead at Thought-Works, says there’s nothing wrong about women having a greater participation in a workforce. The percentage is bound to vary from company to company depending on its area of operations.

Nirupama V.G., Managing Director, Ad Astra Consultants, says she can see a difference in the way companies are looking for women to play leadership roles. She says, “Now, more than 80% of my clients want women to helm various positions.”

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Syrma TechnologyThe Hindu: The Holy Grail of Gender Balance

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