Gender balance at workplace

Driving Gender Balance at Workplaces – The Right HR Processes

Published on : 3/8/19
  • It has been more than a century since the 1st International Women’s Day in 1911 when over a million men and women campaigned across multiple countries to end discrimination and grant women the right to work, vote, get educated and hold public office. Over a hundred years of half of the world’s population fighting for equality; yet, as per the World Economic Forum, it will take two more centuries for gender equality to be a reality!

    This prediction has galvanized the world; and perhaps in an effort to hasten the process, the theme for IWD 2019 has been announced as #BalanceForBetter. And nowhere is the theme more relevant than at workplaces. For, equality at workplaces will lead to financial, professional, and eventually personal equality.

    Sodexo has always been at the forefront of providing equal opportunities for induction, growth, assessment and rewards to all its employees, irrespective of gender. As our recent study on gender balance shows, the performance of any organisation is directly proportional to the ratio of men and women working in it – the more balanced the ratio, the more consistent is the performance. And with diversity and inclusion being our innate growth strategies, we make unfailing progress to inch closer to the magical ratio every day.

    Gender balance is one of the top priorities in our Better Tomorrow 2025 vision. Currently, women have a 50% representation in the board, 32% in senior leadership positions, 46% in middle management and site management positions. To ensure a more gender balanced organization that can truly leverage the might of Mars and Venus, we have some strong HR policies in line.

    Equal Slate and Intuitive Candidate Dashboard 

    We maintain a pool of deserving candidates and suggestions from this pool are put forth to fill up the vacancies as and when they arise. It is mandatory that at least 25% of these suggested candidates are women. Managers need to present a strong case for not selecting a woman for the post. Most positions have equal number of Men and Women candidates which is part of our Equal Slate Process of Workforce Planning.

    Blind screening 

    Progressively, across the globe, profiles of candidates are submitted for review without mention of name and gender so that there is absolute transparency and absence of prejudice during selection. Candidates are recruited strictly based on merit only.

    Continuous engagement with clients 

    Since most Sodexo employees function at client sites, we maintain a continuous engagement with clients to synergistically promote gender balance. While some clients are positively inclined towards having women in the team, a few are cautious and wary about ensuring safety of women due to challenges of location and time. We iron out the fears. At the same time, we introduce bold and determined women to roles that have been heretofore classified as ‘men only’ – one such example is a plumbing position at our client site, in a leading IT&ITeS set up; she is held in high regard for her proficiency and professionalism. 

    Role modeling 

    At Sodexo, we are mindful about the fact that women have been late entrants to the job sector. They may not be able to rival men when years of experience are concerned. So, this factor alone should not disqualify them when being considered for senior management positions. Keeping experience lower on the selection criteria gives us healthier and more competitive choices. For example, we have an ex-Defence personnel working in an Operations profile in the Pune region. Her contribution is exemplary even though her experience is not extensive.

    Gender neutral roles 

    We have made over 8000 roles gender neutral. We don’t have any job position that reeks of gender bias. For example, we let go of ‘pantry boy’ and supplemented with a name that had no reference to gender. It was a calculated move to change prevailing mindsets that any particular role was unsuited for women.

    D&I Technology

    Our approach is to Rewire the System to Rewire the Behaviors. At an organizational level, we have introduced an Enterprise Level Automated Tool that provides insights and analytics to leaders on development and growth of a diverse talent group to become more inclusive and drive specific topics.

    SoTogether and Spirit of Inclusion are the networks that perform a culture reset. It ensures that leaders strike a perfect balance in workplace recruitment, growth and retention with training and workshops that impart awareness on being more inclusive, while embedding and incorporating a broader ecosystem of recognition, rewards and accountability.

    However, this momentum towards a perfect gender balance can only be maintained when there is increased participation from the women workforce. The obstacles and barriers that keep women away need to be evaluated and the challenges need to be addressed.

    One important way of gaining participation is by creating awareness among women and helping them gain the right kind of experience. Keeping this in mind, Sodexo is all set to celebrate this Women’s day by implementing #SheWorks for a Better Tomorrow. This involves Job Shadowing, where women from outside the ecosystem will observe Sodexo employees as they perform their activities on that day. A variety of roles have been identified that can expose women to new career ideas, train in key positions and develop important networking contacts.

    The benefits of #SheWorks are manifold. The women delegates experience the work profile and roles at Sodexo, creating opportunities and a pipeline. Organisations gain more manpower and improved productivity at low operational costs. And eventually, the progress of women brings about progress in the entire ecosystem, proving the truth of the theme for this year – Balance is for the Better.

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