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The Y Factor

Throughout the first two days of the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum 2019, one thing that has bothered many attendee futuristic leaders to no end is, “Where are the women?” But this is a question that bothers recruiters, talent officers, and people analysts and observers alike the world over – why are there so few women leaders in tech businesses?

Why do we need women in tech leadership?

 Examining technology problems through a lens of talent diversity has the potential to solve them from a fresh perspective, inclusive of the myriad gender base that would eventually utilise the technology. Both leaders acknowledge the crisis for talent in forward-looking technologies. To mentor women as well as members of the larger LGBTQIA+ would help solve this crisis greatly.

 They’re there, but not for long

 One of the biggest recruiters of women in India is the IT & ITES sector with the numbers going as high as 35% of total staff strength. Considering gender parity resolutions are only gaining traction after #MeToo and the abolition of Section 377 (Adobe recently achieved gender pay parity, staffing parity is still a long way to go), “The majority of women in the workforce are limited to the entry point of the pipeline and at most at mid-management levels,” reveals Kiran Majumdar Shaw, panelist on a session.

 How to keep them there for long?

 The question to ask then, is how to keep women from dropping out of a promising career in tech and reaching their full potential. Corrine Vigreux, Co-Founder of TomTom (most famously the pioneer in navigation technology solving mobility problems) suggested a few ways. Among her solution suggestions, starting to hone potential women leaders early in their careers, and sponsoring them to ensure their success stood out. She also spoke about abolishing women’s clubs in organisations and inviting men into the equation to on-board them in the mission.

 In addition to these solutions, President of NASSCOM, Debjani Ghosh, who chaired the panel also implored more entrepreneurial leaders to consider, identify and groom capable women on their succession plan. And this transformational woman leader journey must begin at entry and mid-management roles. Moreover, the lip service attitude of of merely inducing women into the boardroom, needs to be replaced by a deeper engagement of their role in senior management.

 Endgame or First Move?

Mazumdar-Shaw went so far as to say, “The entire societal mindset must change.” On seeking a show of hands in the vast hall mostly full of men, on how many had daughters, she asked, “Why can’t we encourage our daughters to follow her dreams?” Add to this efforts to conquer the credibility challenge for women employers and make it a norm in the decade to come, and you have a winning, diverse, and a far more innovative team on our hands!

But even before the efforts begin in this direction, in Vigreux’s words, “Companies need to create a safe workplace for women employees to be able to express themselves (without being dismissed or mocked).”

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