Women on the Rise – Gender diversity in the Indian workforce

Posted By: Namrata Gill|Dated: August 4, 2011

In the rapidly changing world where geographical boundaries have become irrelevant, diversity management has become an important aspect of managing businesses. Despite the fairly balanced gender distribution in the Indian population, research shows that women have largely been excluded from India’s economic boom. Only 17 percent of women form a part of the organized sector labour force, but their representation in the unorganized sector is fairly high, which goes unacknowledged in the economy[i]. As the working population ages, there is a compelling need to include this long-neglected section of society.

Women on the Rise

The attitude of Indian women today is no longer as it was previously perceived – submissive, nurturing, obedient and emotional: but today’s working women are just as aggressive and ambitious as men[ii]. They recognize their talents and understand their rights. The number of dual income families and single working mothers has increased over the years.

Change in the family structure means that there are fewer men and women in traditional family roles – indicating the breakdown of gender silos. In modern India, women have the largest influence in decision making process of every purchase. Thus, it becomes imperative for organizations to employ women in order to understand the psyche of the target audience. Understanding the need of the hour, organizations worldwide have started focusing on gender diversity. As the first step, organizations are recognizing the importance of accepting the culture of diversity before putting in systems and policies to promote it.

Organizations like IBM have acknowledged diversity as a strategic imperative and created special task forces to ensure that diversity is well accepted and encouraged in the organization[iii]. Innovative forums like Women In Learning and Leadership (WILL) actively engage women to foster a deeper understanding of gender and its intersections with race, culture, class, sexuality, and other aspects of social identity. WILL provides leadership experience, encouragement, and opportunity for development of critical and analytical skills in women.

Leading names are forging the way forward. The McKinsey Leadership Project is an initiative by McKinsey to help professional women to learn what drives and sustains successful female leaders[iv]. Organizations like Pepsico, Xerox and many more have published their diversity statements focusing on top leaders’ commitment to promoting and monitoring diversity. Mahindra, too, has been in the news for its commitment to diversity. A recent article in the Economic Times noted the view of Prince Augustin, EVP of Human Capital in the Automotive & Farm Equipment Sector at Mahindra & Mahindra, that “Diverse teams are propellers of a sort.”[v]

M&M has earned the reputation of being an equal opportunity employer through its constant effort towards ensuring a conducive work environment for all employees. A dedicated team working towards diversity, tracking diversity through scorecards and implementing strategies to improve the score is testament to the rigor and commitment by senior leadership towards a diverse workplace.

Improving gender diversity will not only help increase creativity and productivity but will also help improve the morale and confidence of current female employees. The importance of communication cannot be ignored: diversity will be a success only if there is sufficient communication and a real effort towards accepting gender diversity at work.


Namrata Gill

About the author:

Namrata Gill is the General Manager of Organization Development and Talent Management for the Mahindra & Mahindra Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors. Namrata has spent the majority of her career in the fields of Human Resources and Talent Management, and she has been a strong advocate and voice for gender equality within Mahindra &Mahindra and the other companies for which she has worked. For further comments or questions, please comment below or email Namrata at: GILL.NAMRATA@mahindra.com.

[i] HR considerations in entering Asian Labour Market – CLC study

[ii]Article -  Gender behaviours in corporate India

[iii] HBR – Diversity as a strategy

[iv] Centered leadership: How talented women thrive – McKinsey Quarterly



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  • Genevieve

    Great article!  Thanks Namrata…looks like you are doing your part to raise women’s voices at work!!

    The Harvard Business Review just posted about new research that shows women raise a group’s collective intelligence!  Check it out… http://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-team-smarter-more-women/ar/pr

    Businesses need women to represent 50% of the world’s consumers (and in lots of places women make more household purchases than men!), add new perspectives that lead to new insights, and, apparently, to make them smarter……..

    • Shilpa

      Good find, Genevieve and thanks, Namrata. For further reading on women breaking the Glass Ceiling, check out an article from last weeks’ Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/18988694
      It seems that in India, we still have a ways to go in ensuring the number of women in top roles increases. I don’t suggest a quota, but we need more women pushing for change in recruiting policies, and we need companies willing to implement female mentorship/leadership projects and programs like those at IBM and McKinsey.    

      • bombaygirl

        what’s wrong with quotas?  affirmative action is the only thing that has brought dalits into government roles…

  • http://www.vaishanaviispat.com kartick Bhowmick

    Verry Good Decession    Thanks  kartick Bhowmick

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000131040357 Mohit Kumar

    Great article! 

  • harshvardhan


  • Untoeternity

    It is true that women have a different touch and mostly creative outlook . Though in several areas we are given an equal status yet every woman will not deny that often we come across a society where women are not treated at par with men. being a woman i personally felt that my male counterparts at work often treat me with contempt just because i am a female. i am also shocked because this behaviour is shown by men of the elite and educated group….

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