At a time when Indian companies are discussing and debating on having gender diversity among the top management, private sector lender Axis Bank has already taken concrete steps to build its women leaders. Axis Bank, which has earlier tied-up with Indian School of Business (ISB) for a women leadership programme, is now looking to hire more women from the business school.
The private sector bank had launched the We Lead: Axis Bank-ISB Women Leadership programme at ISB with the objective of building a diversified leadership talent pipeline within the Bank. This was one of the premier programmes for only recruiting women students from the Post Graduate program at ISB who are interested in a banking career.
V K Menon (Senior Director-Careers, Admissions & Financial Aid), ISB said "When I went to meet the top management at Axis Bank, they were very clear and told us that they wanted more women in the top management. Then this partnership was signed.”
Menon explained that in the first year 12 students have been selected out of the 40 odd interested women candidates. All the prospective female students were trained before the interview and will be put through a fast-track in the leadership process.
The programme includes intensive in-house training with faculty from Axis Bank and ISB. The training gives the students an overview of the Indian banking industry with focus on current and future trends and other important areas of banking like retail, corporate, wholesale and consumer business.
Upon successful completion of the Program and the selection process, the students get an opportunity to work with Axis Bank across diverse roles. Along with this, students are awarded the Axis Bank-ISB Women Leadership Certification.
Rajesh Dahiya, President, Human Resources, Axis Bank said that they had launched the programme with an objective of building a diversified leadership talent pipeline while at the same time strengthen gender diversity at the workplace.
“We wanted to encourage and incorporate multiple and diverse points of view at critical positions in the Bank. Further, we wanted to harness energies of our entire talent pool, including women and men of all stripes for continued sustainability and growth of the Bank," he said.
Though Axis Bank, over and above this programme, does visit ISB, as per their needs, to recruit male students; this programme is only for women. The 12 women, who were recruited in the first batch of this initiative, have been selected in middle management level of SM and AVP grades of different roles across various functions of Axis Bank.
This was not a one-time initiative. Dahiya said that the Bank will continue to build the programme depending on business requirements and interest shown by students at ISB in the program, the Bank will be hiring women graduates through the said programme.
ISB, as a business school too, has laid emphasis on having more gender diversity in the class-room. "As a business school, we are conscious about women and gender balance. Gender diversity is a need in the workplace. About 30% of our class-strength comprises of women,” said Menon.
Human resource experts said that the Axis Bank-ISB initiative would give the much needed push to increase presence of women in top management in India Inc.
“The partnership with a business school, which is known for having women with certain work experience, will be beneficial for the Bank. Since they would be recruiting students from a business school, quality concerns will not arise,” said the senior vice president of a New Delhi based executive recruitment firm.