Business Today

The business case for diversity

In the hunt for talent, many Indian organisations are arming themselves with a formal strategy to employ and retain women, says a study.

Print Edition: March 20, 2011

In the global hunt for talent, organisations can hardly afford to ignore the large talent pool of women. This realisation is prompting companies to increasingly formulate strategies around women in their workforce, says a study by Catalyst, a leading global outfit that helps businesses build inclusive workplaces.

According to the study titled "2010 India Benchmarking Report", 68 per cent of the firms surveyed had devised strategies for advancing the careers of their women employees. The study is the first Indiaspecific exercise by Catalyst, which has been conducting such global diversity and inclusion benchmarking studies for a decade. In all 56 companies across eight sectors participated in the study.

The report divides the participating companies into two broad categorises: India-headquartered (India-HQ) and India-subsidiaries of European and North American headquartered companies (India-Subsidiary). It notes that companies headquartered in India have some catching up to do with those headquartered overseas. For instance, only 37 per cent of the domestic companies have women-specific career advancement strategies in place, including engagement surveys and round tables for gathering feedback, targeted retention and recruitment efforts, and skills training for recognising and avoiding gender stereotyping.

Says Deepali Bagati, Senior Advisor at Catalyst: "Organisations are now concerned about diversity from a business point of view." Talent exper ts such as Chandrasekhar Sripada, Vice President and Head of HR for India and South Asia at IBM India - which sponsored the study - say the business case for gender diversity is based on the simple fact that a new talent pool becomes available. "The tangible benefits are retention and stability that women bring to an organisation."

Among the sectors covered in the study, IT services and BPO sectors lead in terms of organisation-wide strategy for the career advancement of women.

-Saumya Bhattacharya

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