In 2014, when a number of IT companies in Silicon Valley released their gender diversity ratios for the first time, the disparity was startling and unavoidable. Gender imbalance in the workforce had become a hard issue to brush under the carpet. Several organisations took notice and publicly pledged to improve the overall diversity balance in their workforce. On a surface-level, the importance of gender parity can be weighed by the direct impact of having a balanced workforce, giving the organization competitive advantage. However, on a deeper level, gender balance within an organisation is more likely to represent the customer base, giving us better insight into problem areas that need addressing and eventually, making our services more relevant to clients. Diverse workforces have been found to be more empathetic and compassionate, which not only ensures that everyone involved is giving their best, but also adds to individual motivation quotient. Research also points out that companies with internal diversity are better equipped to face challenges and respond quickly to changes in the business environment.
At HGS, the issue was a little different. Our overall Gender Ratio was reasonably good but this ratio did not reflect across all levels including leadership roles. In our search for the root cause of this issue, 32 focus group discussions were conducted across HGS India locations covering more than 700 employees from varied levels/businesses. Among the many findings, an important aspect was lack of self-belief in women employees, hindering their career growth and creating aspiration deficit. We found this looping back to socio-cultural norms in India, along with the fact that there weren’t too many women leaders at the top as role models. Our solution was a focused program that could inspire confidence in women, help them strive for a great career at HGS and thus, create a culture where men and women support each other to learn, develop, and grow. We called this Agrima (A-gree-ma–A Sanskrit word meaning leader, someone who is in the forefront), kicking off the first batch in early 2013.
Over five years now, the effects of this initiative are stark, with several participants receiving internal promotions within just a year since inception. Across all centres in India, participants themselves as well as the leadership have noticed a sea change in behavior and confidence levels. While many of them had shied away from voicing their opinions at work before, they had gained a lot of confidence since attending AGRIMA. Now, they are actively sharing their thoughts and ideas to provide better customer experience, and create more efficient processes. With such consistent efforts, today at HGS, we are creating a huge pipeline of potential leaders while also creating an inclusive workforce.
HGS is an equal opportunities employer, committed towards an inclusive workplace where all employees support and inspire each other to learn, develop, and grow.