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Global corporations′ training programmes pushing women to the top in India

Gender diversity is a global issue. Hence, it is encouraging to see so many companies taking the initiative to diversify their workplaces, highlighted recently in the Economic Times. After all, not only does diversity breed new ideas, perspectives and solutions, but it also makes financial sense for companies to fully utilise the whole workforce.  

India’s drive for diversity comes in the form of its corporations. In fact, when Ravneet Gill took charge as CEO and managing director of Deutsche Bank India, boosting gender diversity was high on his list of priorities.

While 40% of the bank’s employees were women, that proportion dwindled further up the company. At middle level, it stood at 25%. By senior level, only one of the 14 members of Deutsche Bank India’s Executive Committee (ExCo) was a woman. Unfortunately, this weighting is found across most of the world as, while women make up the majority of low-skilled workers, they often find it harder to reach the boardroom.

As the article points out, Gill was troubled by the discrepancy in power, asking: “What example were we setting for young women? They needed role models and assurance that if they stay the course, apex management positions would be within their reach.” 

Over the last four years, Gill has used various programmes to bring more women into the bank and included five more women in the ExCo. “Diversity is a must-have value, on par with discipline. Across the bank, diversity is now accepted as an intrinsic aspect of our culture,” he told the newspaper. 

Elsewhere, noting the lack of women at the top of the pyramid, other corporations have begun to introduce policies and programmes that invest in their female workers.

HSBC launched a similar campaign three years ago called Ascend. Ascend is aimed at moving women from middle to senior management. Speaking during a conference organised by global consulting firm Catalyst last month, HR head at HSBC, Vikram Tandon, explained idea behind the programme: “HSBC just didn’t have women in senior positions, despite our best efforts. We wanted to have women at Board-level, but there were no contenders.” 

Around 30 women were initially selected to be a part of the programme that has since been heralded as a huge success. “The results have been better than expected,” added Tandon. “Our target was that five of the participants should be promotion-ready by the end of the programme. The actual number of promotions was seven. Of the rest, 70% have moved to roles that are more challenging. Several of the participants have taken up international assignments.”

Ascend was commended for its use of sponsors rather than mentors, as sponsors provide more support than simply offering council. YSC managing consultant Ambica Saxena felt that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored: “In the Ascend programme, the sponsors were asked to help their candidates get the top jobs by pointing them to challenging assignments, helping them prepare for the interviews, telling them what the unwritten rules are.” 

Here at GradLink, we work alongside many organisations that pride themselves on their diversity. We understand that women do not want a short cut, but they do want a fair shot. Register with us today to see the types of programme on offer.


By David Gee Published: November 28, 2016


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