In India, Diversity and Inclusion Paints a Picture of Opportunity

There’s plentiful evidence of the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A 2017 study by McKinsey, found a statistically significant correlation between diverse leadership teams and financial outperformance, confirming results from a similar study three years ago. Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability, while those that went beyond gender to incorporate ethnic or cultural diversity were 33% more likely to lead in profitability. The study concludes that these initiatives to form teams diverse in age, international experience, and gender and sexual identity only increases performance success, and raises the bar for companies around the world to follow suit.

A study from the International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences illustrates how Indian companies have been investing in diverse workplaces. It asserts that a “… number of Multinational corporations (MNCs) are attracted to India to explore its diverse markets. These organizations are voluntarily making efforts towards inclusion of various groups of society to fill the skill gap and derive the benefits of workforce diversity as business case.”  The study also found that the employment of women in the private sector is highest in communications and IT at 15.75%.  

The Economic Times reports that, as of 2015, any remaining gaps in gender representation in HR and finance are actively being filled by Indian ecommerce companies like Droom and conglomerates Mahindra & Mahindra and Vedanta. It is well-known in India that gender inclusion is one of the biggest indicators of success when incorporated into executive teams and in the hiring of female managers. A study from the Times of India group examined the relationship between companies with women on their boards and profitability by using India’s top 100 companies, and found that having women as board members correlates to higher financial returns.

Enshrined in the Indian constitution is the prohibition of discrimination of the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth as well as the promotion of equal opportunity in public employment and protection from social injustice and exploitation. Recent developments in Indian employment law represent major steps forward in ensuring gender equality. The first is the enhancement of maternity leave benefits, in which women with fewer than two children receive 12 to 26 weeks of maternity leave while women with two or more receive 12 weeks of leave. Additionally, women who adopt or have children through surrogacy also receive 12 weeks of leave. Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide daycare facilities for women returning to work following their leave.

Women also have received renewed protections against harassment through the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law, which requires companies of 10 or more employees to create an internal committee to redress harassment complaints. The government has additionally launched an online platform, known as the “She-Box,” which allows women to easily file harassment complaints to be filed to Internal Committees.

Alongside major efforts to protect the rights of women in employment are the efforts to acknowledge the rights of the LGBT community in India. A 2014 World Bank report found that discrimination against the LGBT community in the workplace costs India $1.25 billion of its GDP. The decriminalization of same-sex activity in September of 2018 was celebrated in India and worldwide, and since then the efforts to incorporate LGBT workers into existing diverse workplaces have increased. While some major companies were already making strides, Indians now feel greater freedom personally and professionally. Pride Circle, a group of over 500 LGBT professionals and allies in the Indian corporate workforce who have been tirelessly organizing events and webinars over the years to discuss workplace diversity and inclusion, have recently made history through the first-ever Indian LGBT job fair this July in Bangalore. A similar job fair was held in Mumbai by the Vivivdh group, representing a major country-wide move to celebrate workplace diversity in all its forms.

Other areas of Indian workplace diversity discussed in the International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences study pertain to disabilities and religion. Due to the multireligious and multicultural nature of India, workplaces are comprised of people from a wide range of religious faiths from Hinduism to Christianity to Buddhism. The Persons with Disability Act of 1995 provides employment incentives for the public and private sector to have at least 5% of their workforce comprised of disabled employees. These factors are just a few more ways in which India has ensured opportunity and protection for its diverse workforce, with measures also taken with caste, age, and diverse languages in mind.

Those living in or relocating to India for jobs will find a workplace that is setting the standards of what it means to work in a diverse and inclusive environment. For a wide range of identities and personal traits, India offers opportunity and protection, knowing well that doing so fosters success and leadership. Companies outside of India looking to accelerate their growth may look to India’s efforts to establish a foundation of diversity and inclusion, while employees of all traits are empowered to succeed along the way. 

Elevate the conversation by attending the 2019 India Talent Mobility Summit on 13 November in Bengaluru. Learn more.

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