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Business News/ Companies / News/  Back to office takes toll on women at TCS

Back to office takes toll on women at TCS

Attrition among women has been higher than male colleagues and called it ‘unusual’, noted TCS's Chief human resources officer Milind Lakkad
  • TCS is clear that work from office for newcomers and junior management leads to more collaboration
  • In external hiring, women comprised 38.1% of net hires in FY23, according to the company. Premium
    In external hiring, women comprised 38.1% of net hires in FY23, according to the company.

    MUMBAI : Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) said more women employees have left India’s top software services company than men in the fiscal year ended 31 March 2023 as its return-to-office policy has led to a “reset of domestic arrangements".

    Chief human resources officer Milind Lakkad, however, insisted that employees will need to work from office following the abatement of the covid-19 pandemic to understand the company’s culture and for better collaboration among workers. He noted that for FY23, attrition among women has been higher than male colleagues and called it “unusual".

    “There might be other reasons, but intuitively, I would think working from home during the pandemic reset the domestic arrangements for some women, keeping them from returning to office even after everything normalized," Lakkad said in the company’s annual report. He pointed out that historically, the attrition rate for women at TCS has been similar to or lower than that of men. “The higher attrition among women in FY23 is a setback to our efforts to promote gender diversity but we are doubling down on it," he said. At TCS, attrition rate for the trailing 12 months is 20.1%.

    According to the company, in external hiring, women comprised 38.1% of net hires in FY23. It compares with 35.7% female participation in TCS’ overall workforce. In leadership positions fulfilled with internal candidates in FY23, women made up 23% of the selected candidates, even though they accounted for only 14% of the applicant pool.

    Women dropping out due to covid-19 has plagued all sectors. Lack of childcare and caregiving duties has impacted female workers during the pandemic, but with companies returning to work from office, many have chosen to opt out of the workforce. But TCS is clear that work from office for newcomers and junior management leads to more collaboration.

    Lakkad chalked out the drawbacks against the convenience of work from home. He pointed out that while tenured employees who are well-networked within the organization can work virtually “using the social capital built up over the years", the same can’t be with more junior employees.

    “Workplace essentials like collaboration, mentorship and team-building suffered a lot in these two years," he noted.

    The challenge is mirrored by other IT firms who have steadily been asking employees to come to offices.

    TCS pointed out that over half of its current workforce was hired after March 2020 when the pandemic struck. Net addition in FY23 was 22,600 and the company closed the year with 614,795 employees.

    Over the last two years, TCS and other IT companies like Infosys, and Wipro had to rely on lateral hiring as attrition rates shot up, which also led to internal pay disparity.

    TCS said there are upskilling programmes that can help an employee go up the salary bands and over time “correction through performance-linked wage increases, promotions, and voluntary attrition", will shrink the gap.

    However, HR consultants estimate at least a couple of years to bridge the gap. “Lateral offers structured with sign-on bonuses with clawbacks also help control gaps on regular payrolling with peers. The high-cost talent’s peer group is also given opportunities with out of sequence review and performance-based revisions cycles. In effect, enterprises can and do iron out the parity in no longer than two years," said Prasadh M. S., head-workforce research, Xpheno, which specializes in IT hiring.

    According to TCS, the company escaped the “vicious" hiring frenzy by recruiting over 150,000 campus graduates in the last two fiscals. The company said it has rolled out a hike of 5-8% for its workforce needs to upskill on back of artificial intelligence-led transitions.

    “We broke out of the vicious cycle of hiring and counter-hiring by investing in onboarding an unprecedented number of fresh engineers—over 110,000 in FY22 and over 44,000 in FY23—and training them on the technologies most in demand," Rajesh Gopinathan, TCS chief executive and managing director, said in the annual report. Gopinathan has been replaced by K. Krithivasan as the MD and CEO.

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    Devina Sengupta
    Devina Sengupta reports on the shifts in India Inc’s workplaces, HR policies and writes about the developments at India’s biggest conglomerates. Her stories over the last decade have been picked up and followed by Indian and international news outlets. She joined Mint in 2022 and previously worked with The Economic Times and DNA-Money.
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    Updated: 08 Jun 2023, 12:10 AM IST
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