Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) which aims to have 20 percent women in their workforce by 2020 is using a mix of incentives and skilling initiatives to increase the number of women at the workplace.
In an interaction with Moneycontrol, PV Murthy, Executive Vice-President and Global Head-Human Resources, IHCL said the company also offers higher commissions for external recruiters for referring women candidates.
At present, 17 percent of the IHCL workforce consists of women. According to their annual report, IHCL had 32,242 employees at the end of FY18.
“When we go to campuses, we ensure that 50 percent of the students recruited are girls. It is at the policy level that we have taken this decision,” added Murthy.
There is also a programme called DiWA (Diversity including Women At Taj). This provides a structured programme for training through skills certification centres in the North East, he said.
IHCL provides them with six months of on-the-job training. Once they graduate, these women are placed in frontline roles in the hotels. Murthy said the first batch was placed at Taj Aravali in Udaipur.
“The idea is to have all the new hotels follow this route to hire more women for the properties,” he added.
IHCL also has an internal referral programme wherein if a lady is referred by an external consultant, they are paid a higher commission. Murthy said that 23 percent of women employees got hired through this programme.
Murthy said it was crucial to not just hire more women but to have effective HR practices for them at the workplace.
Statutory norms like Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policies are in place, he said.
It is to be noted that there were allegations of sexual harassment against IHCL’s former MD and CEO Rakesh Sarna by an ex-employee. After an Indian Express report quoting the complainant, a Tata Group spokesperson had said on November 2 that said the case was investigated by an appropriate independent committee.
"The findings were informed to the complainant by a former director of IHCL. We heard her and others, and we recognise the opportunity to raise the bar," the spokesperson had said in response to the report. Sarna had later stepped down from his post in 2017, citing ‘personal reasons.'
Further, the Taj Hotels spokesperson had said the matter was investigated and dealt with by an appropriate independent committee constituted for this purpose.
Special facilities for women
Murthy said IHCL was among the first companies to offer IVF treatment facility for women in the company. He said ten women have availed this benefit which was introduced last year. The company also offers necessary support to the women for this purpose.
Apart from this, the company also has a restaurant China Polis in Vivanta, Trivandrum that is exclusively run by women. He said they are looking at similar such initiatives for other locations.
Murthy added the company's property Taj Wellington Mews (Mumbai) had a project to have 50 percent women employees. Currently, it has touched 45 percent.
It is not just women employees at the entry level. Murthy said the idea is also to have women at leadership positions.
“We will be rolling out a programme for the mid-level women managers in the organisation to groom them for senior level positions,” he added.
Unique job roles
While the hospitality industry has a majority of women staff in the frontline roles, Murthy said the idea is to get more women to be part of niche job positions.
Some of these include lady security officers, lady engineers and naturalists in various locations in Taj safaris. IHCL provides training and technical expertise in the conservation of natural resources to these women.
“It is still a journey for us at Taj. We are moving step by step,” added Murthy.