Bridging the gender gap in tech biggies TCS, IBM, Microsoft

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Updated: Nov 10, 2014 11:48 AM

Tech biggies, such as TCS, IBM, Microsoft, have rolled out progressive policies to hire, retain and encourage women talent in India.

Tech biggies have rolled out progressive policies to hire, retain and encourage women talent in India, but still a lot needs to be done.Tech biggies have rolled out progressive policies to hire, retain and encourage women talent in India, but still a lot needs to be done.

Recently Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s biggest software services exporter, made the headlines for becoming the first private sector company in India to employ over 100,000 women employees. It may not be long before TCS overtakes IBM—the Armonk, New York-based technology behemoth has an estimated 1.3 lakh women out of a total workforce of 4.31 lakh employees—as the world’s largest employer of women in the technology space.

In India, IBM, which has been known informally as Big Blue for decades, has collaborated with The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B) and Catalyst India WRC to launch a cross-industry women’s leadership development programme, ‘Tanmatra’ (means ‘potential’ in Sanskrit). The moot point is this: organisations today understand the importance of women leaders to their growth and success. Moreover, considerable research has consistently shown that advancing women to top management has direct impact on both the financial success of the
organisation as well as on the nation’s economy.

There is no denying the fact that across companies and sectors in India, the gender ratio is undeniably skewed towards male employees. However, companies have been stepping up efforts to bridge the gap by implementing progressive policies and creating innovative solutions to hire, retain and encourage women talent. Within TCS, a major chunk—over 40%—of its women employees are either new recruits or at
junior levels, while about 11% are in the senior management. “We have lots of female talent in the country and especially in the technology region. It is great to see that TCS has been capable of attracting them. From 10,000 to 1,00,000, is the growth covered by 10x in 10 years,” said N Chandrasekaran, CEO & MD, TCS.

The Women’s Leadership Development Programme by IBM will leverage the best collective practical experience and research to prepare women for leadership in the Indian business community. The programme will also create a common networking platform for high-potential women. Open to organisations across India, it will train a batch of 30 high-potential women across industries with at least 12 or more years of industry experience across a span of 10 months.

Dilpreet Singh, vice-president —HR, IBM India/South Asia, said, “IBM places great thrust on building women leaders today, who will help transform the business tomorrow. We have industry-leading and recognised in-house interventions that focus on attracting, developing and retaining women talent, globally and locally. The Tanmatra programme supports our vision toward building women leaders not just in a uni-dimensional context but in the larger canvas of multi-industry, enabling peer-to-peer learning mentorships and community give back.”
Another technology heavyweight, Microsoft, has launched its ‘Women in Tech’ initiative with a view to attract and retain women talent in the industry. Along with partners, Microsoft will train and mentor one million girls and women in the next 12 months. These will include girl school students, young women students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) colleges, women IT professionals and women entrepreneurs. As part of the initiative, Microsoft launched a unique online platform which can be accessed at https://www.microsoftwomenintech.in/.

Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik said, “Today, the IT industry in India has about one million women. Our Women in Tech initiative aims to double that number in the next few years. In the first year, our partners and we will train and mentor the next one million women and help them join, grow and succeed in the IT industry.”
Giving out the programme details, Joseph Landes, chief evangelist, Microsoft India, said, “Our Women in Tech initiative is aimed at enabling India’s young girls and women find suitable careers in IT and accelerate their growth. Through the course of the next year, we will provide one million women access to awareness sessions, training and certification programmes. In addition, through Microsoft Ventures we will also mentor 30 women-led start-up companies and support them in building connections with the broader start-up community in India.”

According to an Intel study, titled Women and the Web, the longer a woman has been engaging online, the more likely she is to engage in activities that yield tangible benefits. Women with more than five years of online experience are twice as likely to seek out information on financial services and banking than women who have joined the Internet within the last year. They are also 50% more likely to buy things online.

It goes without saying that ICT represent a significant opportunity for advancing gender equality, women’s empowerment and equitable development. Putting the recent initiatives by tech biggies will help women not only to go ahead in their careers, but also come at par with their counterparts.

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