People@Work

The Maggi-fication of Gender Diversity

Saundarya Rajesh | Updated on April 09, 2020 Published on April 09, 2020

Representative image   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Diversity strategy is the secret sauce to profitability of workplaces — and it can be a veritable two-minute thing to get the implementation right 

Covid or not, if your organisation hasn’t been losing sleep about gender diversity, I would state that you live under a rock. Talent is the primary strategic asset for organisational success in a rapidly changing, VUCA-at-its-best world. And diverse talent is a very special secret sauce that created incredible changes in the productivity, profitability and motivation of workplaces. So, if you and your people leaders are not worrying about the basic, most essential and most primary diversity strand — gender — then, wow,you must be Utopia!

In the last five years, ever since we brought the Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women initiative to India, I have seen rapid transformation in the way organisations have approached diversity. Companies, irrespective of size, industry or geography, have taken the effort and time to articulate the business case. Lots of workshops, blueprinting sessions, talks by people like me (over a 1,500 talks and counting!) lead to identifying that sweet spot, where the business benefit of diversity meets the availability of that particular talent pool. And when the diversity strategy is crystal-clear to all leadership team members, it ought to be as easy as Maggi — a veritable 2-minute thing, to get the implementation right.

Except it isn’t. The CEO of a financial services company, Razia, had a lengthy discussion with me about women in the Indian workplace. “My counterpart in a European country constantly speaks about how diversity has made all the difference, a workplace where both men & women succeed. Where do they find these women so effortlessly? Don’t they have anything else to do?”

Razia’s angst is very justified. According to the Global CEO Survey by PwC in 2017, 77 per cent of all global CEOs see availability of skills as the single biggest threat to their business. The easy answer to Razia’s question is that countries and companies that have admirable gender diversity have invested deep in this. The tough part, though, is to shift her company’s talent acquisition strategy from reactive to proactive. Because, gender diversity, unlike noodles, is not something that can be Maggi-fied.

Building a female talent pipeline 

Women are under-represented at almost all levels across the organisational hierarchy. Creation of a talent pipeline calls for a long-term strategy and consistent resources. As such, if the process of talent acquisition is broken down into a stage-wise plan, the implementation is easier.

Let’s look at strategies to attract, retain and promote women professionals across the three broad career stages — early career stage, mid-career stage and mature or senior-level career stage. Initiatives to plan, implement and manage a talent pipeline of women professionals across these three career stages can be broadly classified into three strategies:

Educate/Enable - Engage- Elevate

  • Educate/Enable (Early-career women):
  • Engage (Mid-career stage)
  • Elevate (Mature career stage)

As people leaders of organisations, there are several simultaneous challenges that we need to respond to. Automation and its effect on the workforce is one. Straddling the digital economy is another. And when we add competing for talent in the midst of skills shortage, it seems almost simplistic — likeMaggi — that the answer lies in gender-inclusive recruitment. And somebody please tell Razia that it is not only European countries that create a business environment where everyone has opportunities to perform, thrive, lead and win!

Saundarya Rajesh is Founder-President – Avtar, a talent strategy consulting company

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Published on April 09, 2020
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