Gender diversity: India Inc going all out to attract and retain women

will bear the cost if a female manager wants to take her baby along with a nanny on business trips. The tobacco-to-hospitality conglomerate’s initiative, announced a few months ago, is among recent measures introduced by corporate India to attract, hire and retain female employees in senior and even in nonconventional roles, adding to the gender diversity policies many of them have already implemented.

Flexibility is a key factor for most working women. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, has highlighted this recently, as he called on businesses to be more flexible to encourage the participation of women in the workforce.

Company executives ET spoke with said they gauge the needs of women in the workforce and accordingly roll out new measures or modify existing policies.

The efforts are paying off. According to a study conducted by CIEL HR Services and shared exclusively with ET, participation of women in the workforce at the 359 companies it covered had risen by 10% year-on-year over the last three years. The new programmes of companies are also aimed at restricting attrition among female employees. ITC’s recently launched initiatives for female employees also include childcare sabbatical and travel support for lady managers, said corporate HR head Amitav Mukherji.


Attracting and retaining female talent is not just limited to corporate offices. For instance, half the workers at chocolate and cookie maker Mondelez India’s Sri City factory in Andhra Pradesh are women. “Here our aim since the beginning was to build a factory with equal representation of women,” said Shilpa Vaid, head of HR at Mondelez India.

One of GE Healthcare’s medical devices factories in Bengaluru has an all-women shop floor. Most of its other facilities have women accounting for 25-30% of the workforce. “We are focused on hiring more women across job types and are constantly reviewing our policies to help attract and retain women,” said Amaresh Singh, chief HR officer at GE South Asia.

Gender diversity is improving largely due to the increasing flexibility in work hours and workplace, along with socio-cultural changes, CIEL HR chief executive Aditya Misra said, citing the survey findings. Currently, the focus for Tata Group-owned jewellery and watch company

, is to encourage and promote women to take up sales and marketing roles.

“To make this viable for women, the travel and transfer policies have been amended to support such career choices,” CEO Swadesh Behera told ET. Titan is offering ‘transfer benefits’ for women that include designating employee ‘buddy’ who is a local employee to support housing or other settlement requirements.

Companies also are giving benefits including cab travel reimbursements and different work flex options to soon-to-be mothers. Young mothers at most companies can take additional leaves, if needed, beyond maternity leave and avail of flexible work arrangements.

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