How women are rising in leadership roles breaking the unseen barriers

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Dnyan Shah, SVP & Global Head-HR, Mphasis


  1. How have the women in leadership roles changed in the past decade, and what factors have contributed to these changes?

Over the years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of women holding leadership positions. Many organizations are now recognizing the importance of gender diversity in leadership and are actively seeking to promote and support women in these roles. While there is still work to be done to achieve full gender parity, progress has been made, and more women are stepping into leadership positions than ever before.

Organizations need to acknowledge that women bring valuable perspectives and skills to the workplace, and it’s important to ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed. By investing in training and leadership programs, organizations can create a supportive environment that enables women to thrive at every stage of their careers. This includes offering flexible work arrangements like second career opportunities, sabbatical policies, and part-time schedules, as well as work-from-home options when needed. By providing these policies, organizations can attract and retain talented women, creating a diverse and inclusive workforce that benefits everyone.

One of the initiatives that Mphasis has developed, is a 9-month program called LeadHER aimed at identifying and nurturing women employees for leadership roles. The program’s goal is to encourage women to break stereotypes and advance in their careers by providing them with mentoring and guidance. It covers a variety of topics, including self-discovery, communication skills, networking, and work-life integration. Participants are also encouraged to identify and address the unique challenges women face in the workplace. The program is based on an interwoven learning strategy that focuses on four key areas: fueling up, taking off, cruising, and managing turbulence. The aim of the program is to improve gender balance and promote women in leadership positions.

  1. What kind of challenges are expected in the coming years in terms of biases at work, women in leadership, etc?

 It is important for organizations to continue to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and actively work to address unconscious biases and intersectional barriers to ensure that women have equal opportunities to succeed. One of the challenges in most workplaces is the persistence of unconscious biases that can impact hiring, promotion, and decision-making processes in the workplace. Despite efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, unconscious biases can still result in unfair treatment or limited opportunities for women in leadership roles. Workplace bias can pose several risks, such as high turnover rates, stifled creativity due to fear of expressing ideas, legal complications, negative workplace culture, and lack of diversity in both people and ideas. Recognizing workplace bias can also empower individuals to speak out against unfair practices.

 Another challenge is the intersectional nature of gender biases, which can compound with other forms of discrimination, such as race, gender or ethnicity, and result in even greater barriers for women from underrepresented groups. The effects of gender bias and discrimination are even more pronounced when a woman is a mother or the primary caregiver for a family member. To eliminate any bias, forward-thinking organizations study promotion rates and compare them to those of male employees. Gender bias encompasses more than just male-female relationships and has expanded beyond binary gender. In the future, gender bias will become more significant if corrective policies are not implemented now.

  1.  In what ways have women in leadership roles influenced company culture and decision-making processes, and what impact has this had on business outcomes?

Women in leadership roles have had a significant impact on company culture and decision-making processes, leading to more inclusive, socially responsible, and successful organizations. One impact has been an increased emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Women in leadership have brought attention to the importance of diverse perspectives and backgrounds in decision-making, resulting in more inclusive hiring practices and policies. Additionally, women in leadership positions can serve as role models and mentors for other women in the organization, providing a path for career development and advancement.

In terms of business outcomes, studies have found that gender-diverse companies tend to outperform their peers, with higher revenue and profits. Women leaders are a fundamental requirement of the twenty-first century. This entails unleashing their full potential by providing them with the necessary support and resources. Women leaders offer a fresh perspective and have been shown to lead more effectively than men, particularly those over 40 who have had to balance work and personal responsibilities, leading to the acquisition of valuable skills. They are also more empathic and tend to use passion as a tool for motivating employees and communicating transparently. Women are often adept at balancing multiple responsibilities, including careers, households, and parenting, which enables them to quickly adapt to new situations and find practical solutions to real-world work issues. All these factors combine to make women valuable contributors to any organization seeking to thrive in a competitive market.

  1. How have workplace policies and company cultures in the tech industry evolved to better support and promote women in leadership positions?

Over the past few decades, workplace policies and company cultures in the tech industry have evolved to better support and promote women in leadership positions. At Mphasis we are focused towards creating a holistic work environment and constantly revamping its policies and initiatives to provide women leaders and employees with a fair and equitable work environment. Some of our key initiatives curated to promote the growth of our women employees include our ‘Mphasis Future of Work’ and ‘Back to Work’ policies provide solutions to upskill and train women employees. Additionally, Mphasis’s DEI initiatives address most of the areas causing disparity and unrest such as regular calendarized pay parity studies, the introduction of an Anti-discrimination policy, ERG’s for women such as Mother’s forum to support the women’s workforce. We also conduct regular programs such as Integrated Circuit, which is an interactive platform exclusively for women leaders within Mphasis to share their experiences and inspire others. Apart from these, to ensure a healthy representation of the workforce ratio, we also conduct focused hiring campaigns and actively seek out diverse candidates for mid to senior leadership positions.

  1.  How can organizations support women who are interested in pursuing a career in the tech industry?

To ensure gender equality in the workplace, companies should review their pay structures for unconscious gender bias and communicate their efforts and findings. It’s important to promote employee resource groups and encourage participation in women’s networks, as they provide a safe space for women to connect and share information. Creating an environment where women feel empowered to voice their opinions and speak up is crucial, along with minimizing the risk of gender bias in recruitment procedures. It is also imperative to establish forums such as POSH, Whistleblower, Women-friendly policies, and Anti-discriminatory policies as well. Actively mentoring and sponsoring female talent is also important for grooming the next set of leaders. Offering subsidized education programs and referral programs can also help increase gender diversity. Companies should also conduct hackathons and ideathons to promote innovation and creative thinking.

Overall, much work still needs to be done to fully support and promote women in the tech industry. However, the evolution of workplace policies and company cultures over the past few decades has been a positive step forward in this direction.

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