According to a McKinsey report, gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their peers financially than those dominated by one gender. Every 10 percent increase in gender diversity, led to a 3.5 percent increase in EBIT.
Even in India, companies with more women on the board have demonstrated better returns on equity than the industry average (11.4 percent versus 10.3 percent according to the report). Not just that, companies headed by women grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 35 percent in a 5 year period ending 2009, compared with 21 percent registered by the BSE-30. (Source: The Economic Times)
Why Gender Diversity is Important
Diversity of Thought
Men and women tend to think differently. They have different viewpoints, ideas and they approach problems differently. This diversity of thought enables better problem solving, leading to superior decision making which consequently leads to better performance.
Better Stakeholder Representation
Having a gender-diverse workforce and board ensures that the company truly represents all its stakeholders – shareholders, employees, and customers. This in turn can help the company get a more complete picture of its customer base, the market situation and more.
The pace of change in today’s global economy is rapidly increasing. Having diversity of thought at all levels, and especially in senior leadership positions, can help organizations effectively deal with the swiftly changing economic realities that this entails.
The Gender Situation in India
While the benefits of having women in the workforce are many, a sad truth of our times is that even today, women form less than 1/3rd of the total workforce in India and this is despite women candidates often proving to be more employable.
Women also continue to remain underrepresented at top positions, accounting for an average of just 16 percent and 12 percent of the members of the executive teams of corporations in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively (Source: McKinsey). In 2015, women occupied only 15 percent of business leadership positions in India (and only 7 percent of board seats), making it the third lowest nation in having women in leadership roles (Source: The Hindu Business Line)
The Business Process Outsourcing industry in India fares slightly better, with women comprising 30.3% of the BPO workforce. At MattsenKumar, we currently fare better than the industry and national averages – women account of 33 percent, or 1/3rd, of our top management team.
How to Improve Gender Situation
We, at MattsenKumar, are already taking corrective action in terms of gender diversity to make the situation better. Few of the measures being taken by us in recent past are as follows:
Flexible Work Opportunities: Allowing working mothers to work from home or to make use of flexible hours thereby making it easier for them to balance their work and family life.
Playschool Facilities in or near Office: Finding suitable daycare facilities prevent mothers from resuming work. Having a day-care facility in or near the office can handle that worry for working mothers.
Fixing Possible Hiring Bias: Using mixed-gender panels can help remove any possible intake bias. It is often believed that ‘men hire men.’ A panel comprising members from both sexes will help ensure that this unconscious bias is removed and all candidates get a fair chance when they apply for a job at your organization.
Gender Sensitization in Workplace Design: Most office complexes are designed by men and for men. However, while you cannot change the layout of the office, you can take certain steps to ensure that your women employees feel more comfortable at work. Even a small step such as stocking sanitary napkins in the ladies washroom can have a major positive impact on your employees’ comfort levels.
Women – Centric CSR Initiatives: Funding initiatives to promote the education and care of the girl child; initiating campaigns to promote the inclusion of women in the workplace – these are but two of many possible ways you can utilize your CSR spend for gender-positive initiatives. While results may be slow in coming, such initiatives will help fight social stigmas.
To conclude, organizations all over the world are still struggling to ensure gender diversity in their workforce, especially at the senior management levels. However, there are signs that firms are aware of this gender gap and are acting to bridge it. With the numerous reports on the outperformance of more gender-diverse companies over the less diverse ones, the benefits of having greater representation of women should soon be clear to all.
One hopes that this realization will lead organizations across India and the globe to take more active measures to address this issue. In the meanwhile, companies like MattsenKumar will keep doing all they can to give women greater representation in the Indian and BPO workforce.