A key HR agenda in 2013 would be to invest in women talent, says a survey conducted across 130 companies in India that operate in multiple domains. Some 79% of the companies polled believe that investing in women would bring them sustainable growth and increased productivity.
Enterprises surveyed said more than 75% of their diversity & inclusion (D&I) investments for 2013 would go into inducting, developing, training and retraining women talent. Currently, the D&I budget is spread between many diversity activities around gender, generation, culture, people with disabilities (PWD) and differences in sexual orientation.
The study found that 55% of the companies surveyed have a D&I budget of Rs 10-20 lakh, 10% have Rs 20-50 lakh and another 10% between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore for the calendar year 2012. Some 22% of the respondents said they were yet to allocate a D&I budget and they would do so from the coming year.
The average annual D&I spend of the 130 companies surveyed is Rs 17.13 lakh. “If one were to go strictly by the amount of money being invested in the quest of a diverse workforce, India certainly lags behind countries like the US where companies spend between $2,00,000 and $3,00,000 per annum on D&I training and consulting,” said Saundarya Rajesh, founder president of Avtar Career Creators and Flexi Careers India, the organizations that conducted the survey.
IT, BPO, KPO and FMCG companies have higher budgets for gender diversity compared to other industries. TOI had reported in July that companies were putting an extraordinary amount of effort this year into increasing the number of women in their workforce, including paying higher fees to third party recruiters for finding appropriate women candidates.
“D&I is a relatively recent aspect of workplace culture which has found traction in the US and UK, where studies have convincingly proved the existence of a direct correlation between a diverse workforce and improved business performance. And many companies want to explore it in India as well,” Rajesh said.
Sangeeta Gupta, vice-president in IT industry body Nasscom, said Indian corporates were keen to move beyond policies and frameworks to actually doing things to increase the share of women and train them for leadership roles.
Rajashree Nambiar, a general manager at Standard Chartered Bank said, “We are going to invest additional energiesBSE -1.89 % and resources to cultivate our women talent. There is no reason why we should not have equal participation from the other half of the population.”
As much as 83% of respondents in the survey said they were keen on hiring second career women – those who took career breaks for marriage or childbearing.
The survey also found that 70% of the companies in traditional industries had well-structured D&I committees as compared to only 58% in the IT/BPO segment.
This suggests that the general view that industries such as manufacturing, engineering and infrastructure are not very evolved in their D&I practices is perhaps a myth.