India Inc. divided on women leadership: Working Mother & Avtar BCWI-MICI 2021 study

According to the report, women in leadership has seen an upward trend in the IT/ITES, FMCG, and manufacturing industries. BFSI and pharma register a dip in women in leadership. Women at corporate executive level moves up to 15 percent, and managerial level to 25 percent in 2021.
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On October 20, The Avtar Group announced the sixth edition of Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) report. Avtar also announced the third edition of the Working Mother & Avtar Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI), an inclusion Index in the country that recognises companies whose inclusion intent transcends all diversity dimensions.

According to a press statement, this year's BCWI-MICI study commenced in February with approximately 340 corporates spanning every major industry, geography, and line of business. As per the study, to combat times of business disruptions and steer clear to a path of reduced risk, companies are increasingly focussing on diversity in leadership.

This is a pattern seen across industries, with women’s participation in corporate leadership in IT/ITES moving to 18 percent in 2021 from 14 percent in 2020, in FMCG moving to 19 percent from 15 percent in 2020 and in the manufacturing, sector moving to 9 percent from 5 percent in 2020. BFSI and Pharma registered a dip in women in leadership - BFSI saw a dip from 18 percent to 15 percent and Pharma from 22 percent to 18 percent, between 2020 and 2021.

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Towards women’s career development, the findings reveal that about building a gender diverse pipeline, the best companies have the following initiatives:

  • 88 percent companies offer executive coaching programme in the 2021 BCWI-MICI study as compared to 81 percent in 2020.
  • 100 percent in the 2021 BCWI-MICI study provide professional development programs, up from 98 percent in 2020.
  • 75 percent of the 2021 100 best companies advocate and promote a culture of male allyship, up from 73 percent in 2020.
  • Maternity retention rate among women employees have also been steadily increasing in the 100 Best companies – which is at 96 percent in 2021 from 91 percent in 2020.
Commenting on the report, Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Founder – President, Avtar, said: “This year’s study results indicate that companies are consciously evolving in their own diversity, equity, and inclusion maturity. This is primarily based on three factors, viz., their leadership intent, the industry they belong to and the history of their DEI journey thus far."

"It is noteworthy that the disruptions of 2020 have further accelerated the pace of DEI progress in the Best Companies, with 73 percent of them having reported an increase in their DEI spend. One such key indicator is the substantial number of companies which have institutionalised practices to boost representation of women and other underrepresented groups in senior leadership and executive positions.” 

She added, “Companies are increasingly building a cascade effect of DEI accountability. As per the data from 2021 Working Mother & Avtar Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI), 95 percent companies have built their KPIs/KRAs on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for their people managers across levels.”

The study further reveals an increase in percentage of women hires has moved up from 31 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2021. During the same timeframe, the number of companies having formal programmes to identify and recruit second career women (women on career breaks) has moved up from 30 percent to 71 percent.

Subha V Barry, President of Seramount (formerly Working Mother Media), said: “The 2021 BCWI-MICI results highlight that the leaders at our 100 Best Companies are conscious about the progress made on the DEI front and are now navigating a path to balance workplace complexities in a post-pandemic world. Inclusive leadership, combined with a diverse workforce fosters a culture of innovation, better problem-solving, enhancing the sustainability and agility of organisations. We are extremely proud to see the DEI intent grow among the Champions and Exemplars at MICI cutting across industries in India."

The 2021 Top 10 Best Companies listed in the alphabetical order include: Accenture Solutions, Citi India, Deloitte India, Deutsche Bank Group, EY, Genpact India Pvt. Ltd., IBM India Private Limited, Infosys Limited, Mastercard Incorporated, and ZS Associates India Pvt. Ltd.

In the 2021 Most Inclusive Companies Index – MICI (that covered inclusion efforts for gender, culture, people with disabilities and LGBTQ Community), following companies emerged as Champions of Inclusion for their outstanding efforts towards inclusion (in ALPHABETICAL order) - Accenture Solutions Private Ltd., Citi India, Cushman & Wakefield India Pvt. Ltd., Deloitte in India, EY, IBM India Pvt Ltd, Mastercard Incorporated, Pegasystems Worldwide India Pvt. Ltd, Target Corporation India Pvt Ltd, and Tech Mahindra.

The application form rolled out by Working Mother & Avtar earlier this year, consisted of 300 questions, requiring applicant companies to provide data of high-order granularity on their practices, programmes, and policies to ensure inclusion at their workplaces. The study accepted applications from companies (meeting the eligibility criteria of at least 500 employees in India) between February and June 2021.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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