BCG recently came out with a Gender Diversity report in India. Its biggest takeaway is that though 60 per cent of women respondents say their company is focused on gender diversity, only 29 per cent say that they have actually benefited from such programs.

BCG also laid out some points as to which measures work, which are hidden gems and which are overrated.

Here are the proven methods of helping women at the workplace:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Building positive role models
  • Grievance systems and anti-discrimination policies

Measures which are highly valued but rarely implemented:

  • Part time working models
  • Dedicated mentorship for women leaders
  • Engaging male employees to promote gender diversity

Measures which are limited in utility and overrated:

  • Employee surveys
  • Staff events and networking events for women

According to women, one-time staff events do not change deeply rooted behaviour. They consider these events as a mere social exercise. They also feel that networking should be gender neutral and don’t need to mingle in an all-women’s group. They want to be more active in their professional group instead.

Effectiveness of Initiatives:

Women and men have different perceptions of how effective interventions are. Men underrate interventions like part time working models and overrate interventions like quotas and employee surveys. Since men are usually at higher levels, organisations pursue initiatives that are ineffective, instead of impactful.

According to the report, initiatives fail because they aren’t rigorously implemented, not because they are flawed. Most companies have a reactive view of gender diversity initiatives which focus on employees’ immediate concerns. They have a short-term vision for their plans, instead of concentrating on a long-term vision.

The flexible work option:

The flexible work option is one of the most valued interventions. But the report says that the program needs to have full institutional support to be successful, and should not be left up to just the line manager’s discretion.

Employees who want to avail of the part-time model may worry that they will be seen as less ambitious. The report recommends that these concerns should be addressed upfront. Making the part-time model gender neutral may also help assuage this concern. The report recommends leveraging technology such as video chat tools to enable employees to feel connected with their team, setting clear expectations, monitoring and improving the flexibility model and encouraging employees to opt for it.

During performance evaluations, it is key to ensure that there is no negative bias in evaluation and advancement.

Also Read: #SheLeadsIndia: Why Are There Fewer Women In Tech?

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