• Women's Representation Surges in IT, ITeS, and Other Non-IT Sectors
• Women Now Hold Over 20% of Key Leadership Positions in Business
Avtar Group, India’s premier in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Solutions firm announced the “Eighth Edition of Avtar & Seramount Best Companies for Women in India” (BCWI) list. Avtar also announced the “fifth Edition of the Avtar & Seramount Most Inclusive Companies Index” (MICI), a pioneer inclusion Index in the country that recognizes companies whose inclusion intent transcends all diversity dimensions.
The Eighth edition of BCWI-MICI study commenced in February 2023 and had 354 companies spanning different industry sectors participating in the study, which had over 300 DEI metrices assessed. The comprehensive 2023 BCWI-MICI study sheds light on the progress made by the 100 Best Companies in pursuing gender diversity. The Study has revealed that the 100 Best Companies hired 3.38 Lakh women employees and 5.59 Lakh male employees in 2023. 37.7% of total employees hired are women, indicating strong intent for gender balance. However, the study also shows a 1 percent dip in terms of gender ratio of new hires, which was 38.6% in 2022. The IT sector has added close to 2.02 lakh women as against the number of 3.46 Lakh men, Consulting has hired close to 94,000 women vis-à-vis 1.3 Lakh men in the year 2023.
Amongst the companies that feature in the 100 best companies for women in India list, 31% are of Indian origin and the rest are multinational companies.
The 2023 – Top 10 Best Companies for Women in India, listed alphabetically are:
Accenture Solutions Private Limited
Barclays in India
IBM INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED
KPMG in India
Publicis Sapient, a division of TLG India Private Limited
Tech Mahindra Limited
The companies that participated in 2023 Avtar & Seramount Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI) and scored an Inclusion Index score of above 75% are placed in the prestigious Champions of Inclusion Index.
Accenture Solutions Pvt Ltd
IBM India Pvt Ltd
KPMG in India
Midland Credit Management India Private Limited
Morgan Stanley Advantage Services
Target Corporation India Pvt. Ltd.
Tech Mahindra Limited
Presenting the results and key insights of the study, Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Founder – President, Avtar Group said, “The “Social” part of their ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) goals is a top priority for our 100 Best companies in India. The annual 2023 BCWI-MICI serves as a barometer for assessing the DEI intent, which falls under the ambit of “Social” priorities of ESG in India Inc. In the realm of progress, data is our compass. Gender diversity among the 100 Best Companies continues to increase. The average representation of women (overall) is an inspiring 36.9% this year in 2023 up from 25% in 2016, at the time of the launch of the study. At this current rate, a 50:50 gender balance at Best Companies will be a reality by 2030 – a much sooner time frame given the post-pandemic repercussions.”
“Let these numbers guide our actions, for in their patterns we find the blueprint for creating equitable workspaces. While we celebrate the progress made, we must also be vigilant of the challenges that still persist. We also see the overall DEI spends by companies coming down, which perhaps is a knock-on effect of the global recession. There is also a dip in parameters associated with overall DEI Accountability. Last year 97.5% of companies on the MICI index held managers accountable for DEI, and this year, this percentage has dropped to 93%. There is a clear correlation that one can draw between marginal dip in gender ratio of new hires and the overall DEI spends coming down,” Dr Saundarya added.
“Corporations on the Most Inclusive Companies in India list remain committed to creating inclusive workplace cultures for their employees,” said Subha Barry, president of Seramount. “We are proud to recognize their progress in measuring the effectiveness of their DEI programs, while taking the steps necessary to identify opportunities for growth and improvement,” she further added.
Key Highlights: 2023 BCWI & MICI
Best Companies demonstrates market resilience – hiring numbers up from 2022
Best companies add 3.38 Lakh women employees and 5.59 Lakh male employees in 2023; 37.7% of employees hired by 2023 Avtar & Seramount Best Companies are women indicating strong intent for gender balance. In 2023, 97% of 100 Best Companies reported having created structured hybrid working practices resulting in a larger number of women seeking employment in these organizations.
IT/ITES and Consulting are sectors that emerge as the largest employers for women –IT/ITES added close to 2.03 lakh women (and 3.50 Lakh men) and Consulting added close to 94,000 women (1.3 Lakh men) in a span of one year. The gender ratio in hiring was at 37% in IT/ITES and at 57% in the Consulting sector (an all time, high) indicating that these sectors are aggressively pursuing their charter of gender balance.
Manufacturing, in terms of engagement with gender diversity, is in a recovery mode – manufacturing sector hires – 22% of all new hires in manufacturing were women, totaling close to 10,000 women engaged in manufacturing plants.
BFSI registers significant growth in terms of women hires – from 18,000 women hires in 2022, this has moved to 31,000 women hires in 2023, for men these numbers were at 32,000 in 2022 which moved up to 56,000 in 2023.
Best Companies set to achieve 50:50 gender balance by 2030
Women’s representation in 2023-100 Best Companies continues to increase – average representation of women (overall) is at 36.9% (up 2.1% from 34.8% in 2022. It was 25% in 2016). In the Top 10, the overall representation of women is 41.7%, inching progressively closer to gender balance. 97% of 100 Best Companies have created formal hybrid work policies and guidelines, the uptick in women’s representation - a direct outcome of that.
Companies are keen on creating an inclusive experience for employees
This is established by the following:
71% of Best Companies in 2023 reported that their intent on DEI is driven by their focus to create a great work culture
In Top 10 companies, average engagement rates of women were marginally higher than men (at 8.66 for women and 8.45 for men, on a scale of 10); In 100 Best companies this was at par – 8/10 for both men and women, however the engagement scores (also indicative of how belonged employees feel with their organizations) was at 6.2 and 6.3 respectively for men and women in companies that do not have intentional focus on DEI. This establishes that diversity drives engagement and in more inclusive workplaces, there is deeper engagement with employees.
Gender diversity’s impact on business performance grows
More companies report gender diversity to be positively influencing their business performance:
While in 2021 (in the covid year),51% companies reported diversity to be positively impacting their operating profit, in 2023, 79% reported this. By 2025, this is likely to be reported by all 100 companies that would feature on the list.
From 51% companies in 2021 stating that having a diverse workforce has positively impacted their innovation revenue, the number rose to 77% in 2023. This marker for the business case for diversity is also set to cross the 100% mark by 2025.
74% of companies in 2021 said that having more diverse teams helped improve their customer satisfaction scores. This is at 81% this year and likely to cross 100% by 2025.
Best Companies demonstrate innovation in curating a culture of care-hood
This is established by:
Companies in the post covid era are innovating with their child-care support policies – while in 2022, 46% companies were offering child-care allowance (as an alternate to on-site/near site child-care facilities), this has risen to 56%, this year. More than 75% of companies are expected to migrate to this model by 2025.
More and more companies are becoming conscious of the elder care needs of employees – In 2021, 66% of Best Companies reported having an elder care support policy (for employees who are primary caregivers for elders in their families), this has risen to 75% this year and over 80% of companies are expected to provide this support by 2025.
23% of Best Companies have formalised a Period Leave Policy; 9% companies extend this support during menopause stages for women, 28% companies have dedicated resting facilities for menstrual support for women.
Diversity focus diversifies – Focus on People with Disabilities and LGBTQ+ Community intensifies
When Avtar & Seramount launched the Most Inclusive Companies Index in 2019, 58% companies of the Index reported focus on PwDs, in 2023, this is an absolute 100%.
From 23% companies on the index reporting formal focus on inclusion of members of the LGBTQ+ Community in 2019, this has risen to 91% in 2023.
The “S” in ESG is a key priority for Best Companies
As companies pursue their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) commitments as mandated by corporate regulatory bodies, DEI & Employee well-being feature as a key priority under the ambit of ESG. Indian companies are deepening focus on DEI even as multinational corporations expand their DEI strategy based on global guidelines – 31% of companies on the list are Indian companies.
Gender Parity in Leadership – the focus of Best Companies
Women’s representation at managerial level is very close to 30% in 2023, which was 19% when the study started measuring this metric in 2016. Women in Business Leadership roles crossed 20% in 2023, a significant marker of women in leadership, driving and leading business verticals. Gender Pay parity is another priority for the top 2023-100 Best. 92% (up from 86% in 2022) of companies have mechanisms to measure and benchmark.
Focus on women’s employment is becoming a pan industry phenomenon – manufacturing and allied industries constitute 16% of the 2023 – 100 Best Companies for Women in India.
Women’s representation at managerial level is very close to 30% in 2023, which was 19% when the study started measuring this metric in 2016.
Women in Business Leadership roles crossed 20% in 2023, a significant marker of women in leadership, driving and leading business verticals.
100% of the 2023 - Top 10 and 83% (up 8% from 2021) of the 2023 – 100 Best have formal programs for returning women/second career women. When the study launched in 2016, only 30% of the 100 Best companies had programs to hire returning women.
Career Developmental programs are a norm in 100 Best Companies – with all 100 of them offering a structured mentoring program, an enabler that has been established to be crucial to women’s career advancement.
99% of the 2023 - 100 Best companies provide fully paid paternity leave – a consistent record being maintained over the last three years. The maximum paternity leave span being 16 weeks and an average of 18 days.
Flexitime, remote and hybrid working emerge a winning combination with 100 % of top 10 and 89% of 100 Best offering remote work, while 100% of top 10 and 97% of 100 Best offering flexitime, 100% of Top 10 and 97% of 100 Best offer a hybrid set up.
Gender Pay parity is another priority for the top 2023-100 Best. 92% (up from 86% in 2022) of companies have mechanisms to measure and benchmark gender pay equity, showing that 100 Best companies consider pay parity as a very important pre-requisite for gender inclusion.
Uptick in DEI policies and programs in Best Companies
% Companies offering Mentoring has moved up 75% in 2016 to 100% in 2023
% Companies offering Career Sponsorship has moved up from 45% in 2016 to 76% in 2023
% Companies offering second career recruitment programs has moved up from 30% in 2016 to 83% in 2023
A special focus on women advancement is visible evidently among the 2023-Top 100 with regular meetings to review goals and metrics being undertaken by 96% of them and all of the Top 10 having a separate update on women’s advancement as part of the annual updates with employees.
99% of the 2023-100 Best companies provide fully paid paternity leave – a consistent record being maintained over the last two years. With the maximum paternity leave span being 182 days and an average of 18 days, the Best Companies are raising the bar when it comes to greater gender equality in parental leave. This is also a reaffirmation of these companies promoting a male ally culture and ensure that their male employees have the option of paid leave for important life events like birth of a child. This is in a context, when the country is yet to have a formal policy around paid paternity leave.
Mentoring, rated as one of the most critical enablers for women, has become a common practice in the 100 Best. All 2023-Top 100 Best provide this, and all Top 10 offer the same.
Similarly, career sponsorship, which was offered by only 45% in 2016, is being offered by 76% in 2023. In 2016, 56% of the 100 Best offered management and leadership training, this has risen to 100% in 2023, indicating a clear rise in the number of companies invested in sharpening the professional acumen of their employees.
Today 76% of the 100 Best companies offer near-site child-care support (tie-ups with childcare facilities near company premises), the remaining offer on-site child care support. In 2016, only 16% of 100 Best in 2016 offered child-care support.
Gender pay parity is another priority for the top 2023-100 Best. 92% of these companies have mechanisms to measure and benchmark gender pay equity, showing that 100 Best companies consider pay parity as a very important pre-requisite for gender inclusion. While in 2016, 14% of Top 20% earners in the 100 Best were women, this comes close to 20% in 2023.
A zero-tolerance approach towards sexual harassment at the workplace ensures safety (including psychological safety) for the women employees. The companies in the Top 10 and 100 Best lists in 2023 have reiterated their commitment to creating a safe and secure workplace. And the difference between top 10 and top 100 is narrow when it comes to sharing the POSH guidelines across virtual platforms at 100% and 98% respectively.
Flexibility continues to be a strategic enabler for employees at the 100 Best companies. It not only ensures greater ownership amongst employees, it also helps foster greater employee engagement and better employee experience. All the Top 10 and 100-Best offer flextime. While 98% of the Top 100 have structured process for addressing requests for flexibility, all the Top 10 have the process. 97% of 100 Best Companies have created formal hybrid work policies and guidelines for the post covid world.
Stress management and mental health have been receiving a fillip in these companies with all the Top-10 companies offering consultation, and programmes addressing stress, alongside elder care support.
96% of companies on the Most Inclusive Companies Index train their hiring managers to be culturally sensitive and competent.
87% of companies on the index require their interview panels to be diverse (up from 85% last year).
In 93% of companies on the index, managers are held accountable for DEI during the performance review process.
93% of companies on the index have a structured DEI council to drive their DEI agenda. Having a structured body such as a DEI council enables greater traction and focus around DEI and makes the pursuit of inclusion more purposeful –(Internal DEI Council).
42% (same from 2022) companies have dedicated resources to manage diversity analytics (70% Champions and 34% Exemplars).
24% (Up by 4% from 2022) companies have dedicated resources for DEI marketing (40% Champions and 20% Exemplars).
68% of companies on MICI conduct annual compensation audits related to gender, or other under-represented groups. This is up 6%, from 2022.
82.5% of companies on MICI have LGBTQ networks for their employees - 100% of champions have LGBTQ networks for their employees and 77% of Exemplars do this.
75% companies on the index provide specific mentoring opportunities for LGBTQ employees 90% Champions and 70% Exemplars have such initiatives.
38% companies on the index run specific programs to identify hi-pot employees from the LGBTQ Community. 50% Champions and 33% Exemplars do this.
95% companies on MICI conductinfrastructural audit of offices and facilities to ensure inclusion, specifically of PwD employees. All Champions and 93% Exemplars have suchinitiatives.
60% companieson the index provide customized leadership development programmes for PwDs. 70% Champions and 57% Exemplars have such initiatives.
63% companies on MICI have career sponsorship programs to help PwD employees pursue their career aspirations. 60% Champions and 63% Exemplars have such initiatives.
65% companies on the index have referral programmes to reach out to PwD talent and hire them. 90% Champions and 57% Exemplars have such initiatives.
Avtar set up in 2000, is India’s first diversity advocate & workplace inclusion expert. Renowned for its extensive work in the space of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and more specifically, women’s workforce participation, it is the country’s largest provider of second career opportunities for women and is also the earliest to begin working on diversity audits and measurement. Lead by the visionary Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Avtar has ventured into areas of gender inclusion and career creation, which are firsts to India.
* Creating platforms for second career women to meet potential employers,
* Developing a comprehensive set of career enablers which companies can implement in their workspaces
* Spearheading original research that has provided cutting edge insights to organizations
* Creating India’s first diversity hiring portal myavtar.com for women, LGBTQ, PWD, Veterans and Silver Generation
* Re-Skilling, Up-skilling and Counselling of women to pursue sustainable career paths and
* Building career intentionality amongst under privileged girl children.
Avtar has built its DEI offerings under four EDs, which ensures that every organization can have a clear path towards moving forward, building and sustaining diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. The Four EDs – Enrich Diversity, Embed Diversity, Enable Diversity and Experience Diversity are constructed along four key implementation dimensions of Diversity - for Audits & Advisory support, Recruitment Programs, Workshops and Training Programs and Conferences and Events, respectively.
Photo Caption: Karthik Ekambaram, Executive Vice President & Director, DEI Solutions, Avtar Group, Dr Saundarya Rajesh, Founder – President, Avtar Group, Aditya Mittal, Managing Director, Chief Human Resources Officer, Citi South Asia, Thirukkumaran (Thiru) Nagarajan, Vice President & CHRO, IBM India/South Asia, Neha Arur, Senior Director, Regional Human Resources Lead, ZS Associates, Umasanker Kandaswamy, Co-founder, Sr Vice President – Sales & Relationships, Avtar Group Unveiling the 8th Edition of Avtar & Seramount Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) and 5th edition of Most Inclusive Companies Index.