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Women’s Equality Day: India Inc going the extra mile to ensure gender diversity

On the occasion of Women's Equality Day, Moneycontrol interacted with a cross-section of employees and HR leaders to see how a clutch of companies are turning revolutionary when it comes to women-centric policies at the workplace.

August 29, 2022 / 12:10 PM IST
A World Bank study in collaboration with the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) showed that 25 million Indian women quit their jobs between 2012 and 2021, of which, 68 percent never returned to work.

A World Bank study in collaboration with the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) showed that 25 million Indian women quit their jobs between 2012 and 2021, of which, 68 percent never returned to work.

Shipra Jain, software development manager at Amazon Prime Insights, has been vital to many projects such as integrating third parties to Prime, sorting, retaining student subscriptions, or easing signing up for Amazon Prime subscriptions.

“I have come a long way from growing up in a small town in Rajasthan with no English medium school and where I didn’t have any woman role model to look up to,” she told Moneycontrol. However, once recruited by Amazon and after more than eight years into her career, Jain still finds inspiration in the company's initiatives and culture.

She thinks employee benefits like the ‘Ramp Back’ programme after maternity leave are one of the best things about working for a company like Amazon and she thinks it has greatly aided her in getting back to work gradually and in helping her daughter get acclimatised to her daily schedule.

Jain is among other fortunate women who have got a chance to re-integrate with their workplace after returning from maternity leave. A World Bank study in collaboration with the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) showed that 25 million Indian women quit their jobs between 2012 and 2021, of which, 68 percent never returned to work.

On the occasion of Women's Equality Day, Moneycontrol spoke to a cross-section of employees and HR leaders to see how some companies are turning revolutionary when it comes to women-centric policies at the workplace.

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Launching, re-launching careers

For e-commerce giant Amazon India, the ‘Amazon WOW’ programme is one of the most progressive and revolutionary women-centric policies. A networking programme aimed primarily at girl engineering students, participants have opportunities to interact with Amazon leaders on essential skills and take part in workshops. Afterwards, they can apply for roles at the company.

“Today, women lead many of Amazon’s key businesses and strategic teams, including, Amazon Fresh, AWS Public Sector, regional fulfilment network, delivery experience strategy teams and more,” said Deepti Varma, director, HR, Amazon in APAC and the Middle East.

If Amazon has Ramp Back, the counterpart at IT major Accenture India is called ‘Returning Mothers’, a programme that addresses women’s needs for flexible working and gives them access to personalised upskilling and cross-skilling opportunities.

“Our coaches, who are experienced women executives, offer first-hand practical insights and guidance on the journey back to work,” said Lakshmi C, managing director and lead for human resources, Accenture India.

Additionally, the company has a 16-week ‘Career Reboot' programme that upskills women professionals who were on a career break. Post completion, they can be considered for full-time, part-time or internship opportunities at Accenture in line with their performance, skills and interests.

Initiatives like this have helped women represent approximately 47 percent of Accenture India's workforce.

Welcoming women in field roles

When watch manufacturer Titan identified that its infrastructure lagged in providing support to working women, especially the ones in field roles, it committed to creating a safer environment.

After much deliberation with women employees, the Tata firm revised its policy from ground zero to enable women to choose the fastest and safest option between trains, buses and hired/self-drive cars for any upcountry travel.

Women employees said that they did not prefer non-metro locations due to fears about unfamiliar places and safety. This was coupled with the challenge of finding a suitable place to stay. For this, Titan introduced a set of clauses.

It designated a peer employee to support any woman employee posted in a B Class town and non-area office location to find a place for the woman employee to stay. Further, the designated person has to accompany the employee for scouting possible houses, negotiations, broker interactions and registration.

If commuting is a challenge in the town, company cars are provided.

Promoting equal opportunity was a strong driver in the Titan’s leadership’s decision to establish a manufacturing unit in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, where around 85 percent of the line workers are women.

“Titan has been able to develop over 100 franchises of its brand, which are completely handled by women. These stores are managed and run entirely by women employees who have been imparted specific training for effective operation,” said Priya Mathilakath, head, HR, retail and corporate, Titan.
Abhishek Sahu covers HR and Careers at Moneycontrol.
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