Women - Changing India's Technology Landscape!
By: Sangeetha Gururaj, Vice President, People & Talent - India at Qualitest
Sangeetha has 20+ years of experience in leading HR functions across different domains including IT, core-engineering and healthcare industries. She has led HR transformations with a blend of futuristic, innovative thought processes whilst being high on learning agility. With experience across companies like Infosys, MindTree, McAfee, Sangeetha has been recognized as a results-oriented and intuitive leader with proven potential.
India’s tech industry is a very mature, well-respected industry and owes its phenomenal growth to its openness and experimentation not only in the arena of tech but also in the areas of diversity and inclusion. Women are making the most of career opportunities in technology - a combination of education, emotional intelligence, collaboration skills and their much-touted multitasking abilities have helped them make a significant mark in a hitherto male-dominated space.
Over the last decade, the Indian government took initiatives to increase educational participation of girls from the school to graduate and even postgraduate levels. The government’s encouragement reflects in the appointment of women ministers in key positions – in 2019, NirmalaSitharaman was appointed as the first woman finance minister! In addition to unlocking key positions for women in the government, the new girl/women friendly Indian policies opened up opportunities for girls in the growing Indian IT space. Companies have acknowledged the value of women’s participation in the workforce – they now actively look to hire women. If one were to perform a simple online search, one would find that most companies today have a special recruitment program for women that almost always includes a learning and development (L&D) program for better on-the-job performance.
Girls can code! With a 34% share of the Indian IT workforce, women code and deliver results across front-end applications, mobile apps, technology research, databases and software quality engineering. Their impact can be witnessed in cybersecurity, ethical hacking, cloud technologies and even drone-based applications. Women have also captured the bastion of client-facing roles – they are seen as indispensable members of sales and legal teams. With an inherent sense of empathy, women are calling the shots in marketing, human resources (HR) and organizational management!
Women also hold key leadership positions – women’s views and voices are shaping corporate and work-environment policies, paving the way for improved employee experiences. Earlier we had fewer women leaders like KiranMajumdar Shaw and Indira Nooyi to look up to. Now, there are several such leaders who mentor aspiring girls and ladies and help them scale new heights in the corporate environment. At Qualitest, we take great pride in our diversity numbers - 42% of our India-based employees are women! Many of our global leaders are – yes, women! As India’s head of people and talent (P&T), I consciously try to bring an element of diversity, inclusiveness and mutual support for all employees, irrespective of gender. Our core values endorse inclusivity and creating an environment which accepts and nurtures ideas, innovation and growth for all, especially tuned to career pathingfor women
Entrepreneurship has also made way for the forward march of women. Founders, co-founders and investors – young girls and women have taken the mantle of these power-charged roles that push the boundaries of innovation to disrupt and serve new areas of business and consumer needs. This newfound faith, confidence and wealth-creation ability has helped women to make decisions at a whole new level of authority and autonomy. These founders/leaders also understand the ground level challenges that women face and take extra efforts to share valuable advice and guidance through social media channels. Some of these business leaders are celebrities in their own right!
Indian society has taken cognizance of the shift in traditional gender roles – more women enjoy the support of their spouses and families in managing their homes and children. Companies have embraced the idea of remote work, childcare and attractive benefits for expecting mothers. Traditional parenting in India has also turned around with equal education rights – today parents support their daughters to pursue careers in the technology field.
The corporate landscape and the Indian society have made great strides in creating an encouraging environment for women. There is, however, more room for change – work-environments need to improve levels of trust, confidence, meritocracy so that women can shed their inhibitions and self-doubt. Many companies still deal with simmering issues like unequal pay for women, that needs to change. More women can be considered to hold key CFO, CEO positions. Sometimes, old habits kick-in and reverse the progress made by organizations that encourage women’s participation in their workforce. An open-minded approach, continuous monitoring of key diversity indicators and more visibility of women through their involvement in leadership positions will create a sustainable ecosystem where we no longer have to put in special provisions to maintain a certain percentage or gender-driven balance. For now, we can celebrate the wonderful milestones we’ve achieved in this space!