Decoding Diversity

TCS encourages diversity and uses its workforce as a tool to get an edge.

Photographs Rachit Goswami Photographs Rachit Goswami

Ajury in California, in November last year, rejected the allegations that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had discriminated against American workers in favour of staffing its US offices with Indian employees. The verdict was a victory for the Indian outsourcing industry, whose business model of exporting Indian engineers to the US was questioned by President Donald Trump.

TCS proved its point before the court, saying that it is one of the top two employers of local talent in the US. The Indian software giant has added over 17,000 lateral hires in the last five years in the US. Ever since TCS established its flagship global delivery centre in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2009, it has ramped up campus hiring by adding over 2,000 entry level hires from over 70 top colleges. "The US has been our biggest market by revenue and customers, and over the years we have made significant, sustained investments from a business, talent and community perspective. Hiring and integrating local talent has always been part of our growth strategy," says Ajoyendra Mukherjee, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Human Resources, TCS.

Ajoyendra Mukherjee (centre) Executive Vice President and Head of Global HR, TCS

The diversity of perspectives and experiences that comes from having a workforce of about 4,20,000 from 151 countries gives it the capability to discover solutions for its customers across 46 countries, says Mukherjee. "The glue that holds the diverse team together under 'One TCS' concept is the company's value system and the Tata Code of Conduct," he says.

Game Changers

TCS offers a meaningful work environment, progressive policies and myriad career opportunities to its employees, which, they feel, will create a differentiating value in their services to clients. The Indian tech giant depends on its talent pool to assist clients in growth and transformation using their Business 4.0 thought leadership framework.

The company's people initiatives are driven jointly by HR and business teams. It focusses on reskilling the workforce continuously on digital technologies. It has doubled the investments for internal talent development over the past two years and has trained over 3,00,000 employees in digital technologies. Around the same number of people have also been trained in agile delivery, bolstering the in-house talent development strategy.

Reimagining employee engagement was another game changing move. TCS launched its new engagement initiatives in August last year to strengthen the sense of belonging, build pride and motivate the employees to be aspirational. Retention rates are a testament to the success of the initiatives. The IT attrition at the end of the last quarter was 11.2 per cent (industry average was 15.8 per cent in 2018).

TCS has introduced a transparent culture across hierarchies. An internal talent integration platform was developed to seamlessly integrate and create an enhanced experience for new joiners. The TCS National Qualifier Test was enabled as a platform to completely democratise fresh graduate hiring in India. It led to nearly 2,00,000 students registering with the company. The test has also built two conversational bots - Milo and Cara - for enriching employee experience.

TCS' earlier initiatives in education and skill building are having a bigger impact. "The investments in anytime-anywhere learning and collaboration with educational institutions to reduce lead times for newly hired students for transition have yielded splendid results," says Mukherjee. PULSE, the annual employee satisfaction survey, continues to be its primary medium to hear from employees and deploy the right interventions. An internal collaboration tool, Knome, further helps associates share suggestions and feedback in real time.

TCS GEMS continues to be the single source of record for employee rewards. Gamified hiring and collaboration with academic institutions (in re-designing their IT curricula and faculty development support) has helped TCS train future-ready students. The digital student engagement platform - Campus Commune - and other engagement initiatives allow the company to stay connected with the future workforce.

"In a marketplace defined by complexity, disruption and change, managing employees with diverse perspectives and experiences will be a key challenge," says Mukherjee.

Diversity by Design

Gender diversity is a focus area for the company. As on December 31, 2018, women employees formed 35.8 per cent of TCS' workforce. The gender equilibrium has been attained thanks to initiatives around the four pillars of its strategy - sensitisation and awareness; life cycle management; grooming and development; and networking and affiliations. "We have customised these initiatives in such a way that it appeals to women at different stages of their lives, at a personal and a professional level," says Mukherjee. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, more than 900 women work at TCS' all-women business centre, which provides services in finance and accounting, enterprise data management, analytics and IT.

Empowering the workforce in an age of disruption and new technologies is tough. For the hyper-connected diverse workforce, the internal social media platforms of TCS allow employees to stay connected round the clock and bridge distances, thus promoting collaboration and diversity of thought. It has an internal digital platform called Fresco Play to learn latest technologies on the go. It is available in concert with iEvolve, the learning system that makes available a host of learning options and offers internal certification.

A multi-tier leadership development structure with programmes focussed on creating learning opportunities helps leaders at middle and senior management. These programmes help leaders develop capabilities with a focus on business context and tactical and strategic dimensions. In programmes like the TCS Emerging Leadership Seminar, which is designed and delivered in partnership with Tata Management Training Centre, intense experience is created through special assignments, shadow resourcing, and role rotation. The selected leaders are given an opportunity to attend the advanced leadership programmes at international business schools.

TCS invests heavily in research and innovation by developing tools like Ignio, TCS iON platform and TCS BaNCS. Each requires people with different skills and tech backgrounds. "The demographics of talent and profile of such business units is different. The role of HR here is to ensure that we onboard the right talent, drive the common TCS culture, foster an environment of openness and transparency and thereby encourage creativity and entrepreneurship," says Mukherjee.