Gender is the main focus of the diversity efforts of companies in India, said a survey by HR consulting firm Mercer. According to Mercer's Asia Pacific Diversity & Inclusion, over 90 per cent of the participants surveyed list gender as the main focus of their diversity efforts in India.
Gender continues to be the top priority on the diversity and inclusion agenda for companies in the Asia Pacific. Consistent with this focus, the most common diversity programmes offered by companies in India are gender-related, such as mentoring (61 per cent) and family-friendly policies (55 per cent).
“Diversity & inclusion strategies are gaining a strong foothold within India Inc, demonstrating inherent benefits for both employees and employers. We expect it to grow further, with more focus around creating stronger linkages between the diversity and inclusion strategy and the business. Measuring the impact of the strategy on productivity, retention and profitability is the key to its success,"”said Shanthi Naresh, principal, human capital, Mercer India.
The survey said for companies with diversity strategies in place, efforts in 2012 will mainly focus on two initiatives — developing women for leadership roles and attracting more diverse talent to their organisations.
Indian organisations also reported strong focus on disability as part of their diversity strategy, according to the survey. Around 39 per cent of respondents said the highest focus was on disability when compared to respondents from other countries. A few companies have included a diversity strategy specific to people with disabilities. These strategies include targeted recruitment and a focus on creating a work environment for specific needs. These strategies have enabled these companies to acquire and engage talent that can be deployed for specific niche roles.
About 60 per cent of the participating companies in India reported having a diversity and inclusion strategy in place at the global and regional level, of which around 14.5 per cent had a diversity strategy at a country level. Among the 40 per cent of respondents whose companies do not have a diversity and inclusion strategy, over half reported they would like to explore or are already looking to establish a diversity and inclusion strategy.
The findings in India suggest hiring and recruiting practices (71 per cent), career pathing (51 per cent), HR policies (40 per cent) and compensation and benefit policies (31 per cent) are expected to change considerably due to the demographic trends.
The survey further revealed that many companies have created formal mechanisms to mentor and groom high potential high-performing women to leadership levels. Some initiatives that have been taken up in this regard include conducting trainings specifically for women colleagues and tracking these measures through a dashboard.