Information Technology companies in India are increasingly becoming proactive towards promoting women workforce across all verticals by taking special efforts to recruit, retain and develop their talents.
Rising number of women among their customers and lesser attrition rate of women employees are some of the factors which make the fairer sex more attractive to the IT giants.
Kalpana Margabandhu, Director, Websphere Development, IBM, said maintaining women in almost all verticals has become a business imperative to understand the needs of a wider customer base that include a large number of women.
"We find our women employees stable and committed," said Sunita Rebecca Cherian, General Manager, Talent Engagement and Development, Wipro Technologies.
The attrition rate of women employees was comparatively lower than that of men, she said.
"Our exit analysis indicates that most women leave due to personal reasons like setting up a family or relocating with their family or to provide a support system at home."
When women step back and re-prioritise to fulfil these personal commitments, companies tread that "extra mile" and extend innovative and personalised support, she said.
According to Tracy Ann Curtis, Senior Manager, Diversity &Inclusion- Asia Pacific, Cisco, despite the fact that women made up half of the world's population, they constitute only 28 per cent of workers in the IT industry. Cisco's main focus was to bridge this gap and develop the untapped talent.
Indian Women Leadership Council, formed to enhance the technical, professional and personal development of women in IBM India, has been conducting a series of programmes like EXITE--week-long camps designed to inspire middle-school girls to appreciate career opportunities in technology fields.
Similarly, Cisco's Women Action Network in India invites girls in engineering colleges to spend a day at the company, acquainting with its cutting-edge technology, touring the labs and speaking to its leaders, said Curtis.
"IBM which has been conducting exclusive recruitment drives for women, also offers special incentives to headhunters to get qualified women professionals into the organisation," said Margabandhu, adding 26 per cent of the company's existing employees were women.
The companies have unique programmes to retain women employees by addressing their special needs.
According to Curtis, Cisco has policies like 'flexi-time' and 'working from home' facility for its employees. They are provided laptops, network connectivity with Internet telephone facility to work from home.
"At Cisco, results count, not the time spent in the office," she said.
Echoing her words, Margabandhu said that the IBM too is interested in the output and not the time factor. "The staffs can avail suitable working hours, work from home or even from our offices in other cities, according to their convenience."
IBM's Global Work/Life Flexibility Model helps women strike a balance between their professional and personal lives by responding to employees' needs for expanded flexibility in working hours and also child and elderly care assistance.
"IBM has partnered with other organisations to set up creches in Bangalore, Delhi and Gurgaon."
Employees, who had taken long breaks for domestic reasons like marriage and childbirth, are encouraged to get back to work. They are also provided training to fill the gap in their career, said Margabandhu.
According to Cherian, "what many women employees (of Wipro) like best, is the care we take to support their careers. And that is reflected in our growing women team in all levels."
The companies have programmes to promote an inclusive work culture. 'Mindset' is a half-day workshop by IBM for men and women to evolve action plans to build more inclusive culture for women in the company.
There are also programmes and platforms within these organisations where women could share their work experience and make technological advancements.
'Women in Technology' (WIT), 'Taking Stage' and 'Women Leadership Conference' are some such programmes organised by IBM.