How This Data Science Company Is Planning To Increase Female Representation In Workforce?

Tredence's "women returnee programme" for bringing back women into the workforce will focus on hiring women that have taken a sabbatical or career break, with the aim of encouraging women to restart their careers after a pause.


Recent years have seen increasing awareness of the need to increase gender diversity at the workplace, with research by the McKinsey Global Institute estimating that an improvement in gender equity could add 13 trillion dollars to the global GDP by 2030. The pandemic struck a blow on the job market across sectors, and the female workforce was disproportionately affected in this regard. While female representation in India's technology sector is improving, according to job portal, representation of women in tech jobs is only 15% as of mid-February this year, and accounts for 13 lakh jobs in the sector.

Tredence has announced that they are aiming to increase the percentage of women in the workforce to 30% by the end of 2022. In 2021, Tredence saw 26% women diversity in their joining. Managers at Tredence are accountable for hiring, developing, and nurturing an inclusive work environment and designing programs to increase diversity. 

To shell out greater insights on their plans and strategies for the same, Saurabh Upadhyay, Chief People Officer at Tredence,is here to talk about his in-depth plans on the same and how he plans to make this a great strategy in times to come.

1. What is the current scenario of women in the tech workforce in India?

Women account for 43% of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates in India but only 35% of the IT workforce. As a result of the skewed relationship between education and employability, fewer women are in leadership positions across industries. Therefore, businesses should reconsider their talent strategies and opportunities to address these disparities through appropriate measures to improve women's representation in the workforce.

2. What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that women in the tech workforce face in India?

Firstly, the tech world is predominantly male-dominated, and there is a good chance that women working in tech feel like minorities, under-represented, and un-empowered. Lack of encouragement and poor representation leads to a lack of motivation to aspire and grow to more senior positions. This prevents women from enhancing their skills and experiences, leading to a spiral of lack of representation and lack of growth.

The second barrier that I believe women in the tech industry encounter is the difficulty in returning to work after taking a professional break due to personal and social circumstances. In an industry where tech stacks are constantly changing, taking a sabbatical from work puts women at a disadvantage when it is time to return to work. Unfortunately, due to this confidence gap, women sometimes underestimate themselves when doing tasks and are hesitant to take on leadership roles.

Post-COVID, the boundaries between home and work have blurred, leading to further challenges in work-life balance. To fulfill their responsibilities as mothers or caretakers, many women have had to leave the workforce. As per the World Economic Forum, gender parity will take more than a century to accomplish. Unfortunately, COVID has pushed this objective back even further. In most cases, a lack of access to flexible or remote work remains a barrier. At Tredence, we value employee wellbeing very seriously. Therefore, we are operating in a hybrid model, allowing employees to choose what is most effective for them. However, we eventually want them to return to the office at their convenience.

Finally, the most significant obstacles are unconscious biases and microaggressions. These have several consequences, including preventing women from receiving their dues, such as recognition of their work or timely promotions. Most women are hesitant to speak up and share their opinions for fear of being judged as pushy or overbearing. Biases also give birth to gender pay disparity. A woman gets roughly 90 cents for every dollar a male earns, and the gap is expanding all the time.

3. While diversity and inclusion have become hot topics of discussion in boardrooms, is there actually ground-up change being seen? What are your observations based on interactions with potential and new hires?

Yes, today's businesses are attempting to be more inclusive. Companies are no longer treating D&I as good-to-do but are weaving this into their organizational culture and business strategy. Other important measures adopted include offering peer connections and empowering employees to form support groups (ESGs).

Today, there is also a wider acceptance of women with career gaps. Organizations like ours are developing programs to upskill and reskill women, enabling them to grow in their respective fields. Furthermore, businesses are putting up a strong effort to establish a flexible culture, with fair compensation being a top priority for many. Yet, even while progress is being made, there is still much to be done.

4.  When it comes to diversity, the percentage of women in top management positions continues to lag behind. While companies are increasing their female talent pool, the percentage of women in upper management is not increasing proportionally. What is your opinion on this?

Although women account for 43% of STEM courses, only very few make it to leadership positions. As women start building their careers, they often encounter crossroads in life. As a result, they may need to exit the workforce because of marriage, childbirth, relocation, and caregiving responsibilities, further narrowing down the talent funnel. In the male-dominated tech industry, women are often gripped by Imposter Syndrome, making them question their abilities and competencies in a room filled with men. As a result, when men are praised for possessing attributes like honesty or competitiveness, women are misjudged for the same qualities.

Even after doing the same work as their male colleagues, the gender pay gap causes women to be less driven and exit the workforce. Empowering managers and leaders with regular training on biases go a long way in recruiting and retaining women. So do programs such as coaching, mentoring, and sponsorships.

5.  How can companies create a safe and inclusive workforce for women?

Respect, inclusion, and collaboration in a safe workplace are non-negotiable values. An environment where everyone's voice is heard, with the freedom to ask questions, seek clarifications, be inventive, and even fail, plays a key role in a safe and inclusive workplace. As a result, I believe they are critical in ensuring that women in the workplace feel more comfortable and included. Tredence is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EEO) company following 15 leadership principles.

Biases are inherent in human beings, and at Tredence, we have introduced "Bias Interrupters" in most of our talent processes. It's also critical to educate, communicate, and sensitize employees, especially top management, to these inherent prejudices. At Tredence, we attempt to accomplish the same by hosting business thought leaders and sports personalities to facilitate sessions on the role of male allies, microaggressions, implicit biases, and other topics as part of our #breakthebias conversation series.

A company should factor in many parameters to create a conducive environment, including safe transportation and prohibiting sexual harassment & discrimination under the company's zero-tolerance policy. Regular communication about these policies is critical. For example, our POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) partner, Sasha, conducts sessions for all our employees once every quarter.

6.   What are women employees looking for in an employer?

With remote working, online schooling, isolation, stress, and family health, the pandemic has caused many changes, especially in women's lives. Organizations must realize that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Flexibility, an inclusive workplace, a supportive environment that allows growth, mentorship, sponsorship, and specific skill development programs are vital ingredients women are looking for in organizations. Women are also aspiring to look for female role models in top management.

Like any other employee, women want to work in an environment devoid of prejudice and bigotry. Women's issues are often depicted in broad strokes. Every woman is different, and it's not fair to treat this pool of talent as if they all have the same demands. At Tredence, we believe in the "Ask, Don't Assume" philosophy. We can see through the fog of generality, detect differences, and respond to them with regular interactions and one-on-ones. 

7.   What steps is Tredence taking for their threefold objectives of acquiring, retaining and growing women talent, and achieving a 30% female workforce by the end of the year?

We're working hard to attain our target of 30% female employees, up from the current 23%. We also intend to strengthen several of our existing D&I interventions, such as the Women returnee program to welcome back women on sabbaticals. Our talent acquisition team went beyond conventional methods to bring a more diverse workforce by organizing hackathons and connecting with networks like WiDS (Women in Data Science).

While recruitment is a primary goal, employee retention is as critical. Today, we place a high value on professional development and upskilling. Therefore, it's vital to review talent procedures regularly to check for unconscious prejudices that prevent women from getting their due. We also give a larger diversity referral incentive to encourage all employees to contribute to a more diverse workforce.

8.   How will an increase in the female workforce benefit Tredence, and what is the plan ahead?

Businesses benefit from recruiting women as they have empathy, a sense of responsibility, ownership, and a holistic view of seeing things. Therefore, companies are moving towards creating a gender-balanced workforce since it improves business outcomes, stimulates creativity, boosts productivity, increases talent retention, and enhances brand reputation. For Tredence, the benefits of increasing the female workforce are multi-fold.

Women constitute half the population of the planet. We wish to take advantage of this population's talents and abilities. Tapping into these will make a huge difference to our productivity and our bottom line.

We gain from the varied points of view and approaches that come from different life experiences since we have both women and men on our teams.A diversity of perspectives can spark creativity and innovation and help us spot and seize new opportunities.

Our workplace's inclusive culture boosts morale and opportunities. Inclusiveness tends to have lower employee churn rates, representing big savings in time and money spent on recruitment.

Customers come from all walks of life. The more our organization's makeup resembles our customers, the more likely we are to interact effectively with them. This entails ensuring that our teams are diverse in gender, background, and ethnicity. When it comes to purchasing decisions, women have a big influence. For instance, in 2018, women spent roughly 40 trillion dollars worldwide, which is a lot of purchasing power to tap into.

Having a diverse workplace is an effective recruiting strategy. According to a PwC study, female millennials are looking for businesses with a solid track record of diversity, with 85% saying it is important to them. Our positive business values will be demonstrated by our reputation as an inclusive employer, which will enhance our brand in the recruitment market.

Gender diversity has been demonstrated to positively influence the bottom line repeatedly. According to McKinsey, organizations with the most gender diversity are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability. In addition, according to MSCI, having women on a company's board of directors increases productivity.

To accomplish our desired percentage of women in the workforce, we plan to boost women's representation from 23 % to 30% by the end of 2022. Our goal is to surpass the industry average of 36%.

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