Home/ News / India/  IT companies focus on elevating more women to the top deck

Indian information technology (IT) companies are increasingly focusing on elevating and retaining more women in leadership roles and ensuring there is diversity at the top.

According to the Companies Act, 2013, all listed companies need to have at least one woman as a director on their board. Further, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has mandated that effective 1 April 2020, each of the top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalization must have a woman board member who is also an independent director.

“While that is better than not having any, research tells us that the real benefit of this diversity showing up will happen only when we have at least three woman directors or ideally one-third of the board being women. A lone voice can easily be lost in a male-dominated group, but three or more ensures a significant minority which will be hard to ignore," said Nirmala Menon, founder and chief executive officer, Interweave Consulting, a diversity consulting firm.

Infosys Ltd has surpassed the Sebi mandate by appointing two women independent directors on its board. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the lead independent director and Chitra Nayak has been appointed an independent director effective 25 March.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Ltd also has two women directors on its board. While Aarthi Subramanian is the group chief digital officer and a non-independent director, Hanne Sorensen is an independent director.

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. has four women directors on its board–Vinita Bali, Maureen Breakiron-Evans, Archana Deskus, and Sandra S. Wijnberg.

The New Jersey-based company which employs over 200,000 employees in India, has established female hiring and retention goals for company leaders, which is part of their formal annual performance ratings process. Women professionals form around 38% the company’s total workforce in India and nearly 45% of the workforce in tier-II cities.

“Cognizant has pledged to put 1,000 high performing women in leadership levels through Propel, our signature women’s global leadership development initiative, by the end of 2021. Propel is focused on enabling women at the mid-management level to accelerate their careers through coaching and mentoring in partnership with external certified executive coaches," said Rajesh Nambiar, chairman and managing director, Cognizant India.

Wipro Ltd fulfils the mandate with one woman independent director–Ireena Vittal–on its board. Women make up 35% of Wipro’s total workforce of about 188,000 employees as per Annual Report 2019-20. Last month, Wipro appointed Subha Tatavarti as the chief technology officer (CTO), who becomes the first women to fill that role at Wipro.

The Women of Wipro (WoW) framework is a life stage-based approach that recognizes the needs and expectations of women at different stages of their life and career. Over the years, Wipro has introduced several initiatives for women including focused mentoring programmes, behavioural development programmes, structured technology upskilling initiatives, and enablement of returning from maternity break.

At Tech Mahindra Ltd, diversity and inclusion are core areas of focus with women comprising 31.8% of the total workforce. “Leaders must challenge the traditional way of institutionalizing an inclusive work culture and think of diversity and inclusion not merely as a policy imperative, but as a journey of constant checks and improvements to build a sustainable and scalable ecosystem that celebrates and respects each voice and perspective," said Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer & head-marketing, Tech Mahindra.

Earlier this month, IT industry’s apex body Nasscom appointed Rekha M. Menon, chairperson and senior managing director at Accenture in India, as its chairperson for 2021-22, which makes her the first woman to take on that role in the association’s 30-year history. Along with Debjani Ghosh as the president, Nasscom is now led by an all-women team.

“The well-documented benefits of better productivity, problem-solving, governance, and financial results when women are part of leadership teams come from the fact that they break the legacy templates of male ways of thinking and acting," said Menon of Interweave Consulting.

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Updated: 29 Apr 2021, 04:04 PM IST
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