Indian companies exploring new ways to tap female talent in technology

In the US, the last annual Grace Hopper conference held in October drew 12,000 attendees and saw 450 companies trying to recruit women


A file photo of an earlier Grace Hopper conference. In the conference held this year in Bengaluru, nearly 2,300 women technologists and managers with rich and diverse experience hobnobbed with each other.
A file photo of an earlier Grace Hopper conference. In the conference held this year in Bengaluru, nearly 2,300 women technologists and managers with rich and diverse experience hobnobbed with each other.

Bengaluru: Large global companies cast their nets wide at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, GHCI or “Hopper” as it popularly known, to grab the best of women software product developers who attended the event over the last three days.

Technology companies such as Google Inc, Microsoft Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, HP Inc, NetApp Inc, Accenture Plc and Facebook Inc, among others set up hiring booths at the event, where nearly 2,300 women technologists and managers with rich and diverse experience hobnobbed with each other.

Roughly a fourth of the participants at the event—the largest technology conference for women in India—were shopping for jobs, said the organizers. Some others dropped by to network and soak in the moment of pride to see so many of their peers proffer domain expertise at various panels.

“I came here because it would be the first time I would get to network with so many women at senior levels. Usually, within our companies, we are very small minorities,” said a senior manager with JP Morgan Chase, who has over 20 years of technical experience. She declined to be named as she was not authorised to speak to media. “Overwhelming to see that there’s so much tech expertise among women too, who we don’t really hear from at other tech conferences.”

For large companies, Grace Hopper presented the perfect opportunity to map available skills with the right set of people. They asked women to fill out forms or register with them, by giving out details of the tools and technologies they knew, the years of experience they had, and the kind of roles they were looking for jobs in.

“Events like the Grace Hopper Conference provide a good engagement platform to network with potential candidates across levels. There’s a concentration of highly skilled women in one location,” said Parag Pande, managing director for human resources at consulting firm Accenture Plc in India.

“It also allows candidates to network with a very diverse set of senior leadership rather than predominantly the hiring team at campuses,” Pande said.

Accenture had a stall at the event where about 400 women registered their interest in employment with the consulting firm.

“Where else can a company find such a large pool of women with the necessary software expertise, without going through third-party hiring agencies,” said an executive director of a US-based multinational bank who was at the event. He declined to be named.

To be sure, many companies visit college campuses to hire. But they have access only to a diverse pool of entry level employees from campuses, unlike at Grace Hopper.

Women too thoroughly made use of the opportunity, scouting around various stalls which engaged their attention through various games, gadgets and goodies.

“I’ve worked in technical roles for the last 11 years at three companies, now I’m here to look at the companies that have managerial or technical manager-type positions open because I want to go to the next level,” said an employee of NetApp, which was one of the sponsors of the event. She too declined to be named.

Although most companies were reluctant to disclose the number of women registered with them, at least eight companies that Mint spoke to said the number was around 600.

In the US, where the Anita Borg Institute which conducts the GHCI is headquartered, the last annual Grace Hopper conference held in October drew 12,000 attendees and saw 450 companies trying to recruit women.

There, the conference also has interview booths, where offers could be made on the spot, unlike in India.

However, not all companies were very enthusiastic, as many people were vying for the goodies being handed by each company at the event.

“We’ve had a mixed response because our goodies got stuck in Chennai and we haven’t had a lot of footfall. Still, people have come up and filled the form, so that’s a good thing” said Rohit Makam, talent acquisition partner at PayPal Holdings Inc.