Empowering Women in IT (eWIT), a voluntary forum run by senior women professionals, has been working towards enhancing the share and sustainability of women for the last ten years. A number of member companies have come forward to share their knowledge with us at our various events and also involve us in their gender inclusivity initiatives. Through our programs we have also been in touch with a large number of women in the IT & ITES industry, especially in Chennai, cutting across company size, roles, levels and experience profiles. We also carry out extensive secondary research on women empowerment and gender inclusivity in technology/IT companies, both globally and in India.
Talent crunch, increasing competition, recognition of women’s contribution and global diversity drives have all led to an increasing thrust on gender inclusivity in Indian IT/ITES companies. Enhancing the share and sustainability of women is very much a business imperative in most well managed IT/ITES companies.
Over the years eWIT has witnessed the following positive trends in Chennai:
- Companies are serious about gender inclusivity and have instituted a number of measures to make their organisations women-friendly
- This has resulted in increasing the percentage of women in the work-force, albeit slowly. There is virtually no gender bias at the entry level and many companies have over 50% women at the entry level.
- Women are more aware of industry practices wrt gender inclusivity and sexual harassment issues
- Women are more vocal about gender issues impacting their work and are less hesitant in seeking women friendly policies and practices
Yet, on the flip side, there continues to be the problem of leaking pipeline with many women opting out of their careers or settling for less demanding roles, leading to a very small percentage making it to senior management positions, especially in mainstream areas like delivery and marketing. Women constitute only 20 to 25% at the middle level and this plunges to 5-7% at the senior levels. What is even more worrying is that the proportions at middle and senior levels are not increasing at the expected pace, despite gender inclusivity measures in place.
In various eWIT events, we find women increasingly talking about ‘inequality’, ‘discrimination’, ‘gender bias’ etc. Our assessment is that gender parity with regard to opportunities for substantive participation, growth and development and even pay could be an issue. Current global research also suggests the same.
We at eWIT are deeply concerned about this issue and it was with a view to seek opinions of CXO level executives, who are in decision making roles, that eWIT organised a presentation and discussion with CXOs of select IT/ITES companies on 30th June 2016.