Corporate DEI improves in India, but female leadership down

While there has been an uptick in India-based companies offering DEI initiatives, there has been a dip in female talent at managerial and executive level

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) momentum is surging among India’s best companies in the post-pandemic era, according to new research from Avtar and Seramount, which recently published its Most Inclusive Companies index (MICI) and its Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) list.

The MICI results illustrate a clear path to progress, in terms of DEI as organisations in India work towards including diverse talent.

According to Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Founder and President of Avtar Group, there is a steady pace of DEI progress in the Best Companies with 77% of them reporting an upsurge in their DEI momentum post-Covid.

“These are the companies that have reaped the fruit of raising the bar in their DEI efforts by way of increased operating profits,” says Rajesh. “When the DEI best practices of these role model organisations go beyond their internal cultures to the ecosystem of vendors, partners, customers, and community, we will create a society where our future generations can thrive and succeed.”

Workplace representation of women up, but path to leadership remains a struggle

While there has been a rise of 10% in women’s workforce participation since 2015, with representation of women at entry levels in companies increasing from 33% in 2017 to 38% in 2022, the path to leadership for women remains a struggle, results of the BCWI report find.

The female talent pipeline in managerial roles has dropped by 9% and further drops to 18% in senior managerial levels, according to the report. The report further indicates a drop in female talent by 17% at the corporate executive level.

Rajesh admits that the representation of women at senior levels in India is stark. “To ensure that we are able to permeate balance across corporate levels and build the women’s leadership pipeline, concerted organisational and societal efforts are required.”

Those organisations included in the 100 Best Companies for Women in India, the largest diversity analytics exercise in the country, continue to lean in on career advancement for women in forms of sponsorship, mentorship and returnship programs, as well as benefits that support their working mothers.

Among the best companies for women are international brands such as Accenture, Citi India, EY, Barclays, Atos, Cisco, Deutsche Bank, DBS. IBM, HP, Infosys, Intel, L’Oreal India, Mastercard, Maersk, Morgan Stanley, P&G, Pepsico, PwC, HSBC, and Verizon.

India-born companies such as Tata Communications, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Flipkart also made the list.

10 Champions of Inclusion including Accenture and Tech Mahindra

Ten companies stand out on the diversity front. Dubbed the ‘Champions of Inclusion’ these companies have raised the bar on inclusion – by alphabetical order:

  1. Accenture India
  2. AXA XL India
  3. Citi India
  4. EY
  5. IBM India
  6. Infosys
  7. Mastercard India
  8. Target Corporation India
  9. Tech Mahindra
  10. Wipro

Accenture says its commitment to fostering diversity and a culture of equality is unwavering, and in order to walk the talk, they are setting bold goals, taking comprehensive action and holding themselves accountable to achieving these goals. “In India, our inclusive programs and policies have helped us attract, retain, and grow a diverse and talented workforce,” says Lakshmi Chandrasekharan, HR Lead at Accenture in India,

Tech Mahindra is also making strides on DEI. As well as being recognised as a Champion, the leading digital transformation and consulting provider made the top 10 of Best Companies for Women for the fourth consecutive year.

The company, which has more than 140,000 employees across India, believes in “providing equitable opportunities, encouraging diversity, and ensuring inclusion in the workplace are instruments of growth,” according to Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer at Tech Mahindra. “Our progressive DEI policies enable our associates to bring their most authentic selves and thrive in a purpose-driven workplace.”

Among the company’s intentional DEI policy are initiatives like Women Leaders program, zero tolerance for sexual harassment, Junior TechMighty, Sexual Reassignment Surgery Policy and insurance benefits for same-sex partners.

Most Inclusive Companies in India List


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