Dec 162012

The author has posted comments on this articleNamrata Singh, TNN | Dec 17, 2012, 06.28AM IST
MUMBAI: The phrase ‘old boys club’ is not uncommonly used in corporate parlance. While it smacks of the absence of women in senior leadership teams, organizations are now using men to champion the cause of gender diversity.

Men are being looked at as mentors to push talented women employees up the corporate ladder. Leena Nair, the HR director of Hindustan Unilever (HUL), who is slated to take on a new global role, cites mentoring by former chairman Keki Dadiseth among the reasons that helped shape her career graph. She is set to take over as global senior VP, leadership and organization development , at Unilever.

Dadiseth started mentoring Nair way back in the ’90s when the talk of gender diversity was new to corporate corridors . Today, HUL has a gender balance council which is led by a man, Hemant Bakshi, the head of the home and personal care business for the company.

The view is that gender diversity cannot happen if men, who occupy substantial layers of the top rung, are not involved in the process. In its latest global study, Catalyst brings to light how gender inclusion training can help contribute towards producing a measurable shift in workplace attitudes to create an environment where women can advance . It talks about how companies can engage more men to become part of the solution to create inclusive workplaces, where differences in career paths and life-career cycles, and differing needs are understood , valued and leveraged to impact the bottom line, and not form the basis of leadership stereotyping.

“I keep going back to stereotyping and gender role expectations for women in India – and related to that the male mindset regarding women’s roles and capabilities. Senior male leaders need to call it out, and drive that mindset shift – walk the talk – to create an inclusive culture. They must also be mindful of the ‘male leadership default’ – that is assuming that leadership is and will continue to be male and conform to that model. Catalyst research shows that this model is embedded, often unintentionally , in the most sophisticated talent management systems. Until these stereotypes and expectations can be rooted out, companies in India will not benefit from an important pool of talent – educated women,” said Deepali Bagati, senior director , Catalyst India.

To break the monotony of the male leadership default, companies are changing the way they conduct recruitments. Accor, a leading hotel operator in Asia-Pacific , has started a unique practice of including a woman judge on recruitment panels. “Usually, since senior levels are dominated by men, panels that conduct interviews tend to become an all-male affair . We have started the practice of ensuring that the panel also has a woman to judge candidates . We also make sure that the final list of candidates has at least one woman candidate having all the required qualifications for the job,” said Ashwin Shirali, regional director, HR, Accor India.

Accor, which wants to increase its gender ratio from 15 to 25% in a couple of years, is launching a special initiative for its women employees at the global level – titled, ‘women at Accor generation’ . The forum would enable women employees to exchange and share their ideas, in addition to providing mentoring and a grievance redressal system. At Accenture India, on the other hand, champions are created with an approach that it is both bottom-up as well as topdown . Many men have actually come forward to champion the cause of diversity. “Besides, when a woman candidate does not make it to a potential leadership role, we do internal assessment with questions such as why she was overlooked and what were the circumstances,” said Manoj Biswas, human resources lead, Accenture India.

Considering that the subject is relatively new, companies are sensitizing employees on such matters. “There are instances where we may knowingly and unknowingly act in a manner which may appear normal but may not always be correct. We try to sensitize employees – both men and women – on matters related to gender sensitivity,” said Biswas. Attempts are also being made to improve the workplace decorum. “At Accor, we abstain from asking classic questions which are typically asked of women candidates during the process of an interview : such as regarding her marital status or whether she has a support system for her children,” said Shirali.

Dec 122012

BJP distances from its HR cell convenor`s letter New Delhi: BJP Wednesday distanced itself from a complaint made to President Pranab Mukherjee by convener of the party’s human rights cell against the Chief Justice of India and expressed regret over it.

In a letter to Mukherjee, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the party dissasociates itself from the complaint and conveys its regrets to the President.

BJP distances from its HR cell convenor`s letter

“This is completely unauthorised and does not represent the view of the party. We disown it completely and convey our regrets for the agony it has caused to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India whom we hold a high regard,” Gadkari said in his letter.

He said he was “distressed” to know that a representation has been made to the President, with copies to the Vice President and the Prime Minister, making certain “uncalled for and unwarranted” allegations against the CJI.

BJP distances from its HR cell convenor`s letter

The representation made by Sudhir Aggarwal, national convener of BJP’s Human Rights Cell, has said the CJI should have recused himself from the hearing of the petition filed by P A Sangma challenging the election of Pranab Mukherjee as President, due to his close proximity to the counsels arguing the case.


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First Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 23:48

Dec 112012

The author has posted comments on this articleMini Joseph Tejaswi, TNN | Dec 12, 2012, 01.50AM IST
BANGALORE: 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 energies 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.