‘Social IQ skills’ are the X-factor that women bring to tech companies

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on May 29, 2020

Representative image   -  AFP

Apart from automation, technology needs soft and cognitive skills, believes HCl Technologies

The business case for diversity and inclusion in technology has never been more clearer for companies as they chug back to normalcy in a post-Covid world, and look to tackle an increasingly diverse customer base.

From redefining recruiting practices to driving mentorship and building a culture of inclusion, HCL Technologies, the country’s third-largest software services firm, has been bringing more women into the tech ecosystem to help create a wave of innovation.

“Research shows that gender diversity brings different perspectives that can lead to innovative solutions and better performing companies. If 50 per cent of the population is absent from the conversation, we miss opportunities and leave markets untapped,” said a HCL spokesperson.

The official continued: “We are all less well-off with anything that restricts innovation and creativity...we are missing out on the potential benefits of those ‘lost’ great ideas.”

Noting that there is plenty of evidence that increased participation by women improves the innovation performance of organisations, the official said: “In part, this is simply a question of numbers: by widening the pool of talent, one increases the chances of emerging valuable new insights.”

Pointing out that women can also bring a different perspective to the workplace, the official said: “Women innovators help to ensure that new products and processes meet the needs of the whole population, not just the male half.”

Approximately 27 per cent of women workers currently make up coders, engineers, and data scientists at HCL Technologies.

Though the company is to go slow on lateral hiring, it will honour the nearly 15,000 job offers already made to freshers. HCL Technologies will not cut salaries of its 1.5 lakh employees. The company follows the July cycle for its pay hikes and promotions.

Social IQ

Pointing out that tech companies are taking diversity and inclusion (D&I) seriously at the workplace, the spokesperson said the same is visible through best practices being shared during D&I conferences, summits and also through award ceremonies in the D&I space. However, much more needs to be done.

The official went on to add that in an increasingly digital world of work, women have an important role to play. “We have observed women have the ability to efficiently balance their personal and professional fronts. As we increasingly see the involvement of AI and automation, we also see an increased need for soft and cognitive skills such as complex problem solving, creative thinking and communication,” said the HCL official, adding that skills with a high social intelligence component is the X-factor that women bring to the business table.

Though the amount of women employed in the digital workforce has gone up over the years and hovers around 17 percent globally for the past decade, business leaders are at the forefront of instilling and rethinking D&I in tech.

The official states it is seen and believed that women are good at multitasking. “The ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is what most women are great at. Wearing many hats is often a regular occurrence in a women’s life. They often balance careers, households and even aging parents, among other things. Women tend to pivot, adjust and focus on solutions, while men in contrast tend to be career-centric and want to maximise their financial return from work,” said the HCL spokesperson.

HCL demonstrates a culture of inclusion by removing unconscious bias, said the official, adding: “We also provide more networking and advocacy platforms which can help women gain more confidence, and leadership development programmes that can provide more advanced career opportunities.”

Published on May 29, 2020

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