Is the Indian workplace gender neutral?

May 14th, 2012

Gender is the main focus of the diversity efforts of companies in India, said a survey by a HR consulting firm. It would include developing women for leadership roles and attracting more diverse talent to the organisation. Though companies are now going several steps ahead to get more women on board, the question really is whether the workplace itself is gender neutral.

The CEO of a global consulting firm dealing with women related HR issues at workplaces says that the Indian workplace is far from being diverse. “The irony is, though the companies are doing a lot on paper, the benefits do not percolate to the women in the office,” says the CEO. It is no surprise that this firm has set up operations officially in India to assist the Indian companies.

The CEO reiterates that even if the benefits do reach the women, it is often not appreciated by the fellow male colleagues who term it discriminatory. Therefore, all the male members in an organisation too, are also offered consulting services by this firm.

There are certainly some professions where women are ill represented. Engineering/manufacturing and automobile sectors are among the most prominent ones in this category, say HR head-hunters. But is this true for other parts of the world? Not quite so. An auto maker’s factory in Japan is certainly bound to have women across the board than its factory in India, informs the MD of a global head-hunting firm. Even among the sunshine sectors like IT, they tend to drop out when there is an absence of an adequate growth opportunity beyond a level in a company.

Absence of enough role-models from the female gender to look up to is also another concern of the female employees. Especially in the male dominated sectors, women have expressed desire to be mentored for senior leadership positions by their own gender.

There is a still lot to be done in terms of gender diversity is the popular perception in the country. Implementation of gender friendly policies and acceptance of talent by fellow workers is key, say women professionals. Overall, though companies have started to take serious efforts, the general belief is that it would still take time to achieve the perfect 50-50 gender balance and retain it throughout.

I would appreciate personal experiences and perceptions about this issue. Please comment.

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