Gender diversity

It is life as usual for CG, a Hyderabad based Senior software engineer with IBM India. She wakes up, finishes her morning chores and gets to work.

But there’s a difference here. CG works from home. When she was two months into her pregnancy, CG opted for IBM’s work-life flexibility option. But that doesn’t mean that her responsibilities are any less compared to her other colleagues. She still works under the same deadlines.

CG works with a team spread across various cities in India and several of her teammates work from home too. CG quite likes this option she can work when she feels like and relax in between. Many others are planning to continue working this way.

This is no ordinary maternity leave. This, in fact, is part of a series of programs IBM has undertaken in India to help women in the workplace, as part of its larger initiative to encourage diversity. The idea is simple: lots of women employees tend to opt out of the workforce due to child bearing and family reasons. There is already a severe war for talent at IBM and they don’t want to close their minds to any segment of the population.

For IBM it doesn’t stop with flexi timing and sabbaticals. It has embarked on a project to help women who have dropped out of the workforce for various reasons back into the organization. Besides, it is investing in vendors developing childcare centers and crèches in key cities in India. The idea is simple: once the projects are off the ground, children of IBM employees will get a preference.

Through a separate project IBM arranges for someone to go the employees’ homes and train their children’s nannies in things like maintaining hygiene and teaching children basics. More importantly, they train employees in how to tackle nannies. While all these programs are gender-neutral, they are mostly used by women.

The idea is to create an environment that is more welcoming to women. The results are starting to show: the percentage of women in IBM’s 43,000-strong India workforce has steadily climbed up to 26%. Contrast this with the figures revealed by a recent CII survey in large companies, the ratio of women is barely 4% of the total workforce, whereas in medium scale companies, the figure stands at 18%.

It is not just IBM alone. Several other organizations are going all-out to attract and retain women employees. For instance, whenever headhunters conduct an executive search for Bharti Airtel, they are told to include at least 25% of women candidates in the shortlist.

  • Smita Mishra

    Work from home is a really good option in IT industry but what about infrastructure industry? How could this be implemented in these industry? If anyone can suggest some measures, it would be of great help.

  • Neena

    Hi, Being a woman with a young child, I appreciate this effort by Companies like IBM. These are still few in our country. I often when and how I will get lucky to work for a Company with such employee friendly policies. Anyone willing to help me in my search?