Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, provides insights into how the company has managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.
Automating the hiring process and TA process can help a business in several ways. Hiring in large numbers as the business scales and keeping the hiring costs controlled can be difficult when done manually. But the solution to this problem lies in modern-day technology.
CSS Corp cracked this problem and managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.
“We have doubled our headcount in the past, which means that the number of people we were looking at or the number of resumes we were scanning were even more. So, the question was how do I hire these many people with a limited number of people in my TA teams, without exploding the cost of hiring,” Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, said.
The company wanted to solve this problem not just by leveraging AI but by process optimization.
“When you hire a person within an organization, you scan between 80-100 resumes, select a few and present them to the hiring team. For the final one, you have multiple rounds of interviews. And someone in the TA team is doing these things manually. If we had to hire and double our headcount manually, it would not have been possible,” he explained.
CSS Corp was not just looking at traditional recruiting but also needed to look at social media and other places from where it could get good candidates. Solving this problem required the company to automate its system and make them learn with time.
“Let’s say A is a potential recruit of CSS Corp. So A will see an ad on his LinkedIn page. On clicking on it, he will see an automated test questionnaire. Based on A’s responses in the questionnaire, we will identify if he is the right fit or not. If he clears that automated test, he will be notified to go and attend the next round of interviews.” he said
“If A is being hired for a voice process, he will have to go through a voice test. The system has been automated to say if A will qualify for B2 in English and so forth. Similar benchmarking has been done with automation and AI. And the final interview will be done face to face,” he added.
Since the system can be played to and some tricks can be used to qualify the initial automated rounds, the company has set up another mechanism to avoid that.
“We do the automated tests and score matching because we know the system can be played to. You might say that you are a full-stack developer but in the test, you might have scored 10 on 100. So, the system knows now that you can not be matched to the profile. We have these kinds of checks and balances that are kept in mind when we design the systems so we don’t have biases,” he explained.
The majority of hiring in CSS Corp happens through resume scanning which flows in the system through various sources. To go through those resumes, the company has developed a cognitive search integrated with the internal system that identifies the right candidate. CSS Corp calls this system TAMS (Talent Acquisition Management System).
TAMS identifies the right resumes which flow into the systems and matches them to the resource requirements and then presents the top 10 resumes that the team can look at and call for interviews. This is being done with Microsoft Cognitive search and integration with other backend systems.
“The cost of hiring post covid has become half compared to pre-covid. I don’t need as many people to scan and go through resumes. Based on the information provided, and the intelligent learning of the system, the efficiency has increased so we have the ability to scale this up over the period of time,” he concluded.
The COVID-19 pandemic and online learning have given rise to a demand for certain skills that fresh graduates need to have to be job ready
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change,” says a popular quote by Emanuel James Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. This saying is now more pertinent than ever considering the situation at hand. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways one could never imagine. While some changes have not necessarily been favourable, others have been good. Nevertheless, this transformation, albeit forced, requires everyone to adapt in order to survive.
The new normal not only requires us to learn living in a certain way, but we need to also develop new skills in order to flourish. Times have been especially hard for students who have had to study and graduate online in the last year. Apart from the job cuts that various sectors had to undergo due to the pandemic, fresh graduates may be finding it hard to land jobs as the skills that they have developed could be obsolete for the kind of jobs that the IT industry now requires. However, it is never too late to gain these skills feels Mahesh Zurale, senior managing director, lead-advanced technology centers in India (ATCI), Accenture.
“The rapid adoption of digital technologies has not only led to an increased demand for digital skills in areas such as cloud, security, data, AI, and automation, but also for talent who are conversant with the new ways of working. The most important skill that technology professionals need today is the ability to continuously learn and adapt. A continuous learning mindset and ongoing investments are required to build technical and functional skills. Additionally, one should focus on developing skills such as intellectual curiosity, empathy, creativity, and an innovation mindset that will be key to meet future role requirements,” says Zurale.
Balvinder Khurana, technology principal and global data community lead, ThoughtWorks believes that a lot can be achieved through Self-motivated learning. “Online learning comes with its set of pros and cons. The exhaustive array of learning platforms sometimes misses out on important experiences that are available only with in-person learning. And, just as with most professional studies, engineering; the skill only gets better with peer-to-peer learning. Such learning is characterized by observing, interactions, and impulsive creativity that’s triggered by the communal learning experience – classrooms, on-site projects, internships, etc.
Another aspect that organizations will have to account for is the varying standards of quality for online studies. While the medium scores high on convenience, infrastructure (internet bandwidth), the structure of content, and the trainer’s effectiveness become much more relevant – else, it becomes an exercise in isolated self-study,” she comments.
“Today, the skills that companies are looking for, apart from obvious technical knowledge and skills, include excellent written and verbal communication. Listening is also a valuable skill especially in a virtual setting where one does not always have visual cues to go by. A firm knowledge of virtual collaboration tools, techniques, and best practices are also important, especially in settings that involve brainstorming, pairing on code development, etc. Self-motivated learning continues to remain as critical as it was in the mostly physical world,” she adds.
The pandemic has given rise to work-from-home, which in turn has made it imperative for candidates to be flexible. “Technology companies look for candidates with a holistic approach towards problem-solving, strong fundamentals in logical reasoning, data structures, algorithms, sound programming, and coding skills. In addition, companies seek employees who are flexible, adaptable, and who proactively embrace future trends and drive disruptive outcomes. While there are no major challenges, we notice that the pandemic has restricted student’s exposure to practical situations, which in turn is limiting their articulation of problem statement and application thinking. However, companies are making it up by introducing initiatives that provide employees with enriching experiences. Forward-looking organizations adopt agile, adaptable, and flexible policies to help their new hires, improve overall productivity, and build a culture of engagement, ownership, and accountability,” states Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India.
Along similar lines, Sankalp Saxena, SVP and MD-Operations, India, Nutanix believes that a proactive mindset along with adaptability is a plus. “With multiple industries undergoing transformation, the next generation of innovators, artists and thinkers need encouragement and as many opportunities as organizations can provide. We’ve witnessed accelerated digital adoption since the pandemic, and as companies adapt their cloud requirements for the future, their staff skill requirements are also changing. Along with more application and software skills, a whole host of personal qualities will make individuals successful at anything they do – qualities such as a proactive mindset; adaptability in picking up and combining new skills, and an enthusiasm for learning. As hybrid work models become the new reality, cross-team functionality, collaborative working and the ability to communicate across a variety of time zones, teams, cultures and business units will increase in importance,” he notes.
Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, senior vice president, head of HR (Global) and corporate quality, CSS Corp, says: “India has a large workforce with skillsets that need to be honed and upgraded with changing times. Sixty-five percent of India’s 1.2 billion people are below the age of 35 years, according to the 2011 Census. While the demographic effect will increase or lower gross domestic product (GDP) by barely one percentage point in 2035, GDP levels can increase by about 3 percentage points in 2035 if India improves significantly on skill training, according to the World Trade Organization. It goes without saying that the need of the hour is training and upskilling the young workforce across disruptive technologies to make them more employable and align their skillsets with industry standards.”
It can be an overwhelming situation for today’s aspiring young technologists. However, it is best to aware of why they should opt for upskilling in the present time.
July 15 is celebrated as World Youth Skills Day to recognise the young talent that are acquiring skills to boost their career. Especially, amidst the pandemic, more and more professionals and youth reskilled and upskilled to rule the market and gain access to the new-age job opportunities that are available.
The young talent is not only upskilling themselves to become better but they are also trying to be a part of the evolution. With this, skilled individuals can find employment opportunities in the market and policymakers.
Commenting on the upskilling for professionals and seekers, Vikrant Gupta, Vice President – HR, Global Markets and DTS, HARMAN said, “Observing the demand-supply gap in skills, several companies have adopted the hire-train-deploy (HTD) model, wherein campus recruits can be trained by subject matter experts in the organizations or even staffing firms on the exact skill requirements before deploying them with the clients or specific products/projects within a company.”
More and more youth are not embracing the path of innovation to come out as the major face with top-notch skills. Especially, amid the pandemic, the youth are actively upskilling to ensure that their future is secure.
Balvinder Khurana, Technology Principal & Global Data Community Lead, Thoughtworks said, “Going remote has presented young technologists with an opportunity for learning unlike before. The avenues range from video conferences to podcasts to virtual tech boot camps to one-on-one conversations with thought leaders – irrespective of physical location. Young technologists are participating in global conferences, opting for online courses and learning from industry experts.”
She named a few in-demand skills that the youth must look for as Data Structure and Algorithms, Data and Analytics, Security, DevOps, and Cloud.
Mahesh Zurale, Senior Managing Director, Lead – Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI), Accenture said, “The most important skill that technology professionals need today is the ability to continuously learn and adapt. A continuous learning mindset and ongoing investments is required to build technical and functional skills. Additionally, one should focus on developing skills such as intellectual curiosity, empathy, creativity and an innovation mindset that will be key to meet future role requirements.”
The approach ‘great customer satisfaction comes with a great employee satisfaction’ spurred the company to develop an in-house innovative solution that took service delivery to the next level.
Be it work from home or from the office, measuring employee productivity, efficiency and satisfaction is a task for any business. Linking client’s growth with employee growth is another uphill task. CSS Corp, however, seems to have all figured it all out.
In conversation with ETCIO, Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, provides insights into a home-grown innovative enterprise solution that has helped the company improve its service levels upto 50%.
“We have built an enterprise insight system that we call ‘Coeus’. Coeus is known as the god of intellect. This platform manages the performance of almost 3500 agents and provides visibility into it to not just the ops managers but also the CXOs. We have incorporated more than 25 matrices, deployed over 100 business rules, some customized to certain accounts and some generic. We analyze almost 1 million contacts per month,” Joshi said.
CSS Corp now onboards any new engagement onto this platform as soon as it goes into operations mode. “This has been in place for about 12-15 months now,” he said.
“Coeus has helped us increase productivity levels by 25%. This had the biggest impact on our service delivery which has since gone up to 50%. We realized that customer satisfaction is only going to come with employee satisfaction. So, measuring employee productivity, efficiency and satisfaction was important,” he added.
Joshi believes that the increase in productivity is because of the feedback that the team is able to give on Coeus. An employee is measured against his team, his deliverables, and professional growth.
“An engineer would usually be measured against X and Y’s performance. We don’t do that. Let’s say I am in Team A and this team is supposed to deliver a customer metric at 80%. So, I will be measured against the performance of the team and the customer’s performance. And If I am out of range of the team’s performance either good or bad, it will be flagged and coaching interventions will be automatically created within the training ecosystem,” he explained.
There are various parameters that CSS Corp considers whenever it is giving feedback to employees. The first is the KPIs and a few other skills. For example, for a contact center agent, it depends on his CSAT, his first call resolution, communication skills, the number of training that he has undergone, experience in the team and how well he documents the case. This all helps in creating an agent persona.
On the basis of score, feedback, and persona, the managers can further deploy employees on a project or assignment that aligns with his skills and personality.
Joshi mentioned that these initiatives also helped the company interact with the employees in a meaningful way in a data-driven manner so that they can have distinct conversations.
“We have enough data now within the Coeus platform to predict the performance. So, today I can sit and ask Coeus if I can match up the numbers of June with July, and Coeus will tell me if I will be able to perform and match the numbers. This answer will be provided with 80-85% confidence. For an individual, it can also tell the manager if he or she will be able to make up the KPIs that constitute his or her performance,” he concluded.
Amid the present Covid-led disruptions, employees look up to their leaders and HR for guidance on how to navigate through this new normal.
Ensuring employees’ wellbeing and safety has become the norm for almost every organisation. ETHRWorld interacted with several industry leaders to find out how they are standing together with their employees amid the challenging times.
Brillio employees who have contracted Covid can avail home care services from medical establishments arranged by the company. Besides, the company has rolled out vaccination drives for its employees and their families and is helping them to book hospital beds, oxygen cylinders or any kind of help related to Covid-19. The company has also introduced a financial loan and Corona Kavach Policy to alleviate the financial burden.
Aftab Ullah, Chief Operating and Delivery Officer, Brillio, said, “The company’s culture is strongly driven by our ‘We Care’ philosophy. Built on that, we have implemented the ‘We Care’ framework for Covid-19.”
The company has been providing facilities, including 24/7 medical emergency support in partnership with International SOS, and access to MediBuddy to help the employees with medical insurance, and telemedical services.
CSS Corp has been tracking the health status of its employees and has stepped in to provide the required support. The company has introduced a doctor-on-call helpline that focuses on getting the right aid for the employees and their family members.
The company is also offering home diagnostics options and is currently in talks with medical institutes for collaboration. Considering the health challenges, financial hardship, social strain, and access to treatments, the HR teams are in constant touch with the employees to build psychological morale and extend support to access quality and affordable healthcare.
Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, Senior Vice President and Head – HR (Global) and Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, said, “Our employee assistance programmes, and dedicated 24/7 counselling line supporting the employees’ emotional and mental health have been extensively leveraged.”
Visvanathan further mentioned that the company has introduced the SAFE (Support, Awareness, Facilitation, Emergency) framework for the employees who have contracted Covid-19 infection. The framework includes connecting with the affected employees by the HR Team and facilitating support till recovery, awareness through mailers and slogans, facilities like on-call 24/7 medical consultation, and emergency reach out through the Rapid Response team.
According to DB Schenker, its employees who have contracted the Covid infection can take unlimited Covid leaves to take care of themselves and their families. The company has also rolled out a vaccination drive and is helping the employees with doctor consultation, and arranging medicines, hospital beds, oxygen, ambulances for them.
Vishal Sharma, CEO – Cluster India and Indian Sub-Continent, DB Schenker, said, “We have taken multiple measures to ensure the mental, physical and financial wellness of our employees across the organisation with customised plans and initiatives to address the corporate office staff along with their families.”
Apart from supporting its own employees and their families, DB Schenker is also supporting an NGO in setting up an oxygen plant in a hospital in Delhi, which Sharma believes will assist in increasing the ICU and oxygen beds. The company is also providing logistics services for the Red Cross.
Just as India was limping back to normalcy after the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, we were hit by a second, more severe wave in 2021 that not only saw people scrambling for beds and oxygen, but also recorded more deaths.
India’s workforce was forced to remain indoors yet again, and prolonged work from home that has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives has led to increased burnout and exhaustion.
However, companies across industries have started recognising the same, looking at unique ways that can help employees cope with stress, distress and burnout.
Taking time off
Dating app Bumble, for instance, recently announced that all employees – in India and across the globe – will have a paid, fully offline one-week vacation in June. “Like everyone, our global team has had a very challenging time during this pandemic. We wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week,” a Bumble spokesperson said.
Similarly, Cosmetics and personal care company L’Oréal India is offering employees a ‘Healing Day’ off, an extended weekend for self-care, as well as a ‘Healing Week’, which the company said is designed to lift employee spirits and to provide constructive support on coping in difficult times through various learning programmes.
Several companies have also announced an unlimited leave policy. Khatabook has an unlimited leave policy, which CEO & co-founder Ravish Naresh said gives employees the mindspace to focus completely on the recovery of health of their loved ones and themselves.
Other companies such as OYO, Myntra (Unlimited Wellness Leaves) and Grant Thorton too have introduced unlimited leave policies.
To ensure employees are not blurring lines between their professional and personal lives, mattress maker Duroflex has put in place a rule no work messages are to be sent before 9 am and after 9 pm. This is in addition to organising fun contests, talent shows, among others.
“Our meetings start with ‘What’s the good news?’ just to boost morale and team spirit. Workshops for yoga, etc. are organized during working hours so that employees take a break from work and stretch a little,” Ritu Moitra, Chief Human Resources Officer, Duroflex said.
Godrej & Boyce launched a company-wide COVID Support Group under the initiative called #TogetherWeCan where the company has been organising mental and physical wellbeing workshops for employees. Under the initiative, it also conducts activities such as Yoga Day session, Family Day, cooking workshops, window photography contests and more.
Real estate developer Embassy Group has launched the ‘Embassy cares wellness portal’, where the company engages with employees on wellness with puzzles, trivia, online fitness sessions, among others. This is in addition to the COVID-19 related support, online doctor and nutrition consultation and pharmacy at discounted prices that the portal offers.
“We also introduced an e-learning portal for all employees, initiating a ‘Learn, Grow and Connect’ series that provided master skills with in-depth learning. The monthly challenge on e-learning has enabled employees with key skills on cultivating joy, mindful moments, empowering women along with others. There is constant communication with individual teams at the group level, by connecting and highlighting individual efforts with all team members as regularly as possible,” Maria Rajesh, CHRO, Embassy Group said.
The Souled Store has been organizing several fun and engagement sessions like a stand-up act by a comedian, a therapeutic art session, a magic show event as well. This is in addition to its employee assistance programmes designed to drive home the importance of attending to mental health and arranged for professional counselling sessions through a confidential helpline number.
Seniority, a company that runs a portal for the elderly, too has been organising interactive events like Antakshari, Tambola, Seniority Premier League, Seniority Talent Hunt, etc. to keep employees motivated.
“Besides, we have collaborated with Juno Clinic, Cleartax, Marsh etc. to conduct various online webinars and industry interaction programmes covering various aspects of physical, mental and financial wellness for our employees,” Tapan Mishra, Founder – Seniority and Evergreen Club said.
Ensuring Mental wellbeing
Most companies have also started offering online counselling sessions for employees to be able to talk about and cope with the pandemic situation.
Retail chain METRO Cash and Carry India organises yoga sessions and pep talk sessions from the top management from time to time in addition to regular webinars on physical & mental health wellbeing.
At Budget airline AIR ASIA, the Chief Medical Officer has regular interactions with employees to keep them updated with essential care tips. The company also said that it has manager-lead processes to ensure employees have the right amount of breaks, activities, learning and wellness in place.
“Our much-awaited Coffee with CEO sessions involve heart-to-heart conversations, alongside our daily virtual meets, peer-to-peer counselling, focused group discussions with HR teams and live online sessions which strive to create open and safe spaces for communication and engagement,” Anjali Chatterjee, Head – People and Culture, AirAsia India said.
IT services company CSS Corp has in place a ‘CHEER framework’, developed for COVID times to help drive empathetic employee engagement and positivity “‘C’ stands for Communicating with employees; ‘H’ for Highlighting their accomplishments; ‘E’ for Energising them; ‘E’ for Engaging with them; and ‘R’ for Recognising and Rewarding them,” the company said.
In addition to this, the company also has initiatives in place to offer 247 counselling line supporting employees’ emotional and mental health.
Bharat Bhatia, Vice President HR at fine jewellery brand Melorra, said that the company’s HR team ensures that there is an environment where people in Melorra can approach their managers or the HR team in case they are overly stressed without any fear of being judged. Employees are also encouraged to take leaves as and when needed to ensure that they break the routine when needed.
“As the HR team, we try to do activities frequently to enable people to have fun at work and to break the daily routine. We have also launched a 24X7 professional counselling service for all our employees to seek professional help when needed,” Bhatia added.
Healthtech startup HealthCube also has regular discussions on mental and physical wellness between the employees and the HR team.
Celebrate the International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, 2021, with Analytics Insight.
The field of Engineering is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day annually, for the last eight years on June 23, 2021. This day is dedicated to all inspiring women who choose to pursue their careers in Engineering by fighting against the patriarchal society. These milestones are showing women’s empowerment in this 21st century where women can demonstrate their intelligence and powers in an open forum. Gender equality and equal pay in all workspaces are required to encourage more women to break societal norms and drive success in the nearby future. There are immense contributions to the world from these empowering women leaders in multiple tech companies. They are revolutionizing the workspace by utilizing their incredible traits efficiently and effectively. They are focused to bring diversity, integrity, equal pay, equal opportunities, and a well-communicated team to organizations.
Analytics Insight is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, by speaking to some amazing women who have hands-on experience in the transformation of the diverse workplace in these recent years— Nidhi Gopal, Director of Product Engineering, Intuit India; Sashikala Viswanathan, Director, Corporate Quality, CSS Corp and Jaxa Gohil, Senior Director, HR and Communications, Falabella, India.
Women Leaders Confronting Challenges-
Nidhi Gopal: Women in the workforce face some unique challenges such as a lower level of confidence, lesser role models and mentors for a career growth discussion and many more. There is a huge demand for women to lead and mentor because women are more empathetic and can be inspiring role models to other women colleagues who come forward for necessary help in navigating life situations, without having to leave the workforce.
Sashikala Viswanathan: Women have already managed to balance their professional-personal life at home in the pandemic. It is overwhelming but the positive side shows that there are a plethora of opportunities for women to work from home to drive success in their careers. There a range of flexible arrangements in multiple organizations to help women achieve the balance through innovative communication and collaboration tools. Women leaders can help in enhancing productivity, efficiency, and flexibility to add to the company’s overall success. Women require diversity in the working culture through conscious effort and commitment at the core of organizational value.
Jaxa Gohil: The world has seen many successful women in technology and leadership roles in these recent years. Yet, it is a long pathway to cover for women to become established and successful to completely transform the mindset of society. It starts with providing education to girls and recruiting women in the workforce for better productivity.
Initiatives for Women in Tech-
Nidhi Gopal: Women are changing the narrative across each industry and leading from the forefront with dynamic and disruptive outlooks and practices. Women need to embark on the journey towards a future, where women thrive in equity. There is a level of awareness and understanding about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through several programs and initiatives in organizations. The fundamental step begins with teaching girls about science to develop a love for STEM as well as celebrate the achievements of multiple women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The workplace is now focused on conscious investment in building, growing, and retaining women leaders. Tech Women @ Intuit focuses on the growth of the women technologists’ community including sponsorship by leaders, development workshops such as negotiation, executive presence, speaking skills, mentoring, and site events.
Sashikala Viswanathan: Women can explore multiple opportunities, be successful in their careers through initiatives and support offered by tech companies such as mentorship programs, peer training, reskilling, upskilling courses, or sessions. CSS Corp provides comfortable, flexible, transparent, equal pay, and approachable working environment for women to make the optimum use of opportunities to drive success in their lives.
Jaxa Gohil: The gender ratio has not changed much for the last thirty years when a computer science degree had only 25 women out of 125 students. There are discussions about how to attract women towards technology through a campus program, scholarships, mentors, and internship programs. These initiatives provide an opportunity to work with Falabella and gain knowledge of organizational impacts through technical know-how.
Providing Exposure to Encourage Women Techies-
Nidhi Gopal: The journey of a woman techie commences from the love for technology at a young age through coding events, corporate events, focus groups where the girls can engage early with STEM graduates. These opportunities will provide sufficient exposure to cutting-edge technologies through sponsoring them in conferences like Grace Hopper Conference, AWS Re-Invent, and many more. This will enable women to build networks and experience the feeling of being a woman in Engineering. Intuit practices Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) while maintaining a dashboard to keep track. The company is focused on providing pay equity also fair and equal workspace to all employees across the globe. Intuit also trains leaders, managers, and employees to create and nurture an inclusive environment with the Leading Inclusively Learning Programme.
Sashikala Viswanathan: Organisations are required to invest in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to provide sufficient exposure. CSS Corp challenges the status quo by retention, succession, addressing the skill gaps as well as committing to inclusion. The company celebrated its silver jubilee and celebrated Women’s Day to introduce Women 25 (W25) ON March 8. It is an initiative to bring aspiring women leaders from different parts of the world for a mentorship program. The mentorship program hones their skills and builds the leadership qualities required to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Jaxa Gohil: Organisations have to walk the talk! When there is a 10-membered team in an organization with only one woman, the woman gets multiple looks while talking or getting emotional. The organizations are required to have a mandate50:50 gender ratio to provide more exposure to women and eliminate the looks from their counterparts.
Survival Tips for Aspiring Women Leaders
Nidhi Gopal: Women leaders always need to speak up and ask without assuming that everyone will understand the situation. The outcome will be fulfilling if one must speak up and ask for grabbing multiple opportunities. The leaders must own their growth by understanding the strengths and opportunities. There will be blind spots at the time of self-reflect. It is better to seek mentors who can be the critique. It is important to continue to learn and compete with oneself to be the better version every single year. One must continue the perseverance to focus on the fruitful outcome. The growth is directly proportional to the exposure in the workspace environment. Training and coaching at Intuit provide sufficient exposure to learn from the leaders through their success stories, insights into current business trends, and applying the trends to the current role. Massive exposure to a wider perspective of the organization enables aspiring women leaders to understand the big picture in the nearby future.
Jaxa Gohil: Be a woman instead of a man! Different women bring so much to the table in different ways. Aspiring women leaders must be equipped to manage all kinds of emotions at the workplace. Some managers handle emotional scenarios in different ways. When any leadership position is opened, it is necessary to make it a gender conversation without shying away. Women are always doing the right thing for the long-term success of the team. Falabella looks forward, to engaging with tech leaders for an unofficial meet and greet.
On this International Women in Engineering Day, industry leaders reflect on what has changed for women, and what needs to be changed
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact lasts in your absence,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook. While most people agree that this is what leadership means, and it has nothing to do with gender, we are yet to see more women in roles that command authority. Although unlike the distant past, wherein women were hardly ever entrusted with figurehead roles, things have been changed by women entrepreneurs and leaders who have been vocal on the need for gender diversity, especially in leadership. That said, a lot more needs to be changed. This International Women in Engineering Day, Dataquest spoke to notable women in leadership roles who say that this change needs to be initiated through a lot more women being encouraged to take up STEM education.
What has changed for women in the field of technology
Ankita Sinha, software engineer, Intuit Futures team, Intuit India says that during her father’s time, the field of technology was largely considered to be a man’s career path and not many women were seen pursuing engineering courses. However, this diversity gap has drastically reduced with more women taking on computer science and other tech careers.
“What is different now is that there is a level of awareness and understanding about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the importance of accurately representing the diversity of our customers that we’re solving for. Women are changing the narrative across every industry and leading from the forefront with their dynamic and disruptive outlook and practices. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we embark on the journey towards realizing a future where women thrive in equity,” she says.
Sinha opines that there are a number of programs and initiatives that are being undertaken in the industry to address the myriad of challenges that still exist. Beginning with something fundamental – how girls are taught science and how we can enable them to develop a love for STEM. “When it comes to women in leadership positions, I feel now more than ever, there is a demand for women to lead and mentor, as the need for more empathetic decision making sees a rise. The pandemic has forced us to move to a fully digital world or towards a more hybrid work from home or office setup. This has made the work environment flexible, opening up the opportunity to work remotely. In times like these, women who are in leadership positions can be inspiring role models and torchbearers, inspiring the younger generation to DREAM BIG and Work HARD,” she adds.
What organisations can do to reduce the gap and encourage women techies in leadership roles
When it comes to women in leadership roles, the onus also lies on organisations to reduce the gap and encourage women techies in leadership roles. While it is true that a woman has added responsibilities, it can be overcome if a little flexibility is offered by organisation. The ongoing pandemic has provided an opportunity to women to prove that says Sashikala Viswanathan, director – corporate quality, CSS Corp. “The pandemic has changed our overall approach towards work and life at large. Women professionals are managing their work remotely and at the same time attending to their personal life needs. Sometimes it can be exhausting and affect their wellness. But if we look at the positive side, this has opened many opportunities for women to work from home, grow, and build careers. Organisations offering a range of flexible arrangements to help women achieve work/life balance, providing innovative communication and collaboration tools to help increase productivity, efficiency, and flexibility – adds to the company’s overall success,” she says.
Viswanathan further comments that we need diversity in our working culture. “Most technology companies that integrate workplace diversity at the core of their organisational value bring positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture results in better business outcomes as organisations get different perspectives bringing innovation and creativity to the forefront,” she adds.
She further goes on to says that the technology industry is evolving rapidly and is one of the spaces where a woman can explore many opportunities to expand their horizons and succeed in their careers. “The initiatives and support offered by technology companies through mentorship programs, peer training, reskilling, and upskilling courses/sessions provide women in tech a platform to hone and nurture their abilities further and develop/grow within their roles. Today, women professionals are transforming the tech field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Attracting and developing more women in leadership roles requires company-wide change, driven from the top. Organisations need to invest in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers,” comments Viswanathan
Biggest challenges in the role of women leaders
As mentioned before, there are several challenges that women leaders do face due to added responsibilities. Nonetheless, Prashanti Bodugum, vice president, Enterprise Business Services and Chennai Center Head, Walmart Global Tech India, feels that these are challenges that can be overcome. “In today’s dynamic corporate environment, closing the gender gap is an essential factor for competitiveness and growth of any organisation. However, there are some challenges to holistic assimilation of women leaders in many industries. The first aspect is doing an assessment of priorities and an acceptance of a lifestyle change before we accept a leadership position. The second lies in forming an informal network, which requires making choices that will help advance our career for instance choosing between attending a networking event or going back home to family. This is particularly challenging at mid-management levels when one is being pulled in all directions – on one hand managing a team at office and on the other, managing children as they are growing up. Thirdly, the institutional barrier that can still at times be extremely limiting which says that there are certain roles fit for men and certain roles fit for women.”
“That said, there are ways in which these barriers can be overcome. Organisations need to accept that women leaders face these challenges and are constantly forced to make choices between their work and their family. In addition to this, strong mentorships, support for education and most importantly women leaders themselves accepting that they are role models for thousands of women looking up to them are paving stones towards gender parity,” she says.
How organisations are promoting women in STEM
Organisations, of late, have been realising the importance of being gender diverse. Therefore, various measures are being undertaken to encourage participation from women. Balvinder Khurana – technology principal andglobal data community lead, ThoughtWorks India, said: “Organisations have to promote budding talent with consistent support from leadership, the creation of unbiased, open and safe teams. The organization should ensure an inclusive environment and support their employees with proactive conversations about growth and opportunities. Employees should be encouraged to explore new roles and challenge themselves. They should have access to training programs – internally and externally developed skill building resources, meaningful role models and networking opportunities.”
“I would love to see more women come out of their shell and have more confidence in themselves. One study says that women only ask for a promotion if they believe they are already performing at 100% of the next role, while men are comfortable seeking a promotion when they are performing at 60% of the next role’s requirements. More women should recognize that rather than focusing on a failure, they should have the capability to learn from mistakes and proactively ask for more opportunities to do interesting work. I also highly value the role of a mentor or coach in a woman’s career journey. These folks can be effective sounding boards and help women cultivate the mindset and confidence required when making transitions in their career. Finally, I would also recommend that young women technologists start succession-planning, even before they move to leadership roles as it helps alleviate the cyclical issue of women leaving the workforce and younger women not seeing themselves being represented in organizations.”
Flexibility is Key
In conclusion, Jaxa Gohil – senior director, HR and Communications, Falabella, India, says that flexible hours with the aid of technology can help women progress despite all the hurdles they face in life. “Working from home has become so normal now! It has its pros and cons, but technology has evolved the way we think. Can we do different hours? Shorter hours? Shorter weeks? 26 years ago, when my nephew was born, my sister started doing a 4-day week in the UK, working from home for 3 days and 1 day in the office. How do we make this kind of flexibility happen and not be frowned upon?” she asks.
Gohil goes on to comment that women have a lot to offer to organisations, and adds “Be a woman! We bring so much to the table. We are different, stay different! I love that I am emotional and actually I tell people. I have cried in front of each of my managers once, some handle well and some don’t! As leaders we all need to be equipped to handle all kinds of emotions.”