Smashing the Glass Ceiling
PwC's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey. Interview with Dr. Vishal Sikka of Infosys [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz7R8fenYg4]
The global female workforce grew by a quarter of a billion between 2006 and 2015. And yet this has done little to alleviate the problem of gender inequality in the workplace. According to the Future of Jobs research report from the World Economic Forum, only 15% of CEOs are women. In some sectors, such as energy, that number is an appalling zero.
There is no rosy outlook for gender parity in the workplace anytime in the near future. In fact, we may even be exacerbating the situation. We recently undertook a global study - Amplifying Human Potential - to gain insights into how the next generation was positioned, in terms of education and skills, to navigate the dynamics of technology forces that are at a tipping point today. The study revealed a significant disparity in skills that if left unaddressed, could create the next generational divide of 'haves' and 'have-nots'. Rather more worryingly, we also found a global gender-based skills divide with men being more likely to possess the technological and digital skills to succeed in the workplace of the future.
Developed markets seem to be the most skewed, whichever way you look at it. For one, the general level of ability and interest in tech skills in these markets is considerably lower than that in emerging markets. More importantly, these markets also show a significant gender gap in terms of technological skills. In the United Kingdom for instance, the proportion of men with the required skills is almost double that of women. In markets like Germany and Australia, the divide is about 20%. In comparison, emerging markets like India, China and Brazil exhibit much less difference.
To my mind, this is not just about creating equal opportunity. It is something more fundamental to business - it's about simply ensuring that the enterprise has access to the best possible workforce. And a synthesis of different kinds of perspectives is so imperative to create a workforce such as this. Design Thinking has always reinforced that teams that bring together multiple perspectives, from diverse backgrounds, produce outcomes that are more compelling. Not nurturing this diversity is such a colossal loss of human creativity and talent.
That's why, we've set up the Global Diversity Council for Infosys. One of its functions is to institute measures to ensure that Infosys is among the most appealing company for women to work in, contribute to and thrive. Support to extend maternity leave on request, work from home options, part-time work options, flexible work hours and facilities like nursing rooms in our delivery centers are some of the conveniences provided to help young mothers return to the workforce. The Women in Management Program and interactions with women leaders, through the Leadership Speak series, equip them with invaluable insights as they work to climb the corporate ladder. These are but the first steps we've taken to realize our aspirations to create a more representative and equitable workforce that can take us to the future. And we continue to march on.