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Indian GCCs Steering Gender Diversity in Tier-II Cities

Rangam Jun 3, 2024 3:12:50 AM

Global capability centers (GCCs) are leading the charge for gender diversity in corporate India with more than 28% women in their workforce. A recent survey by Pure Storage and Zinnov claims that while women's participation in technology and tech-enabled services has increased, achieving gender parity in the deep-tech sector is still a challenge. Women comprise only 23% of the deep-tech workforce.

The survey is an analysis of women engineers graduating between 2004 and 2023 from 42 top universities leveraged by GCCs for hiring, with particular emphasis on 32 institutions preferred by deep-tech companies. The report includes both qualitative and quantitative findings based on insights from women employed in the deep-tech sector. It indicates that workforce gender disparity is mainly because of two major factors: fewer number of women enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses and a significant rate of dropouts among women in the mid-level and senior-level positions. Limited mentorship opportunities, gender stereotypes, and a workplace culture that rarely promotes work-life balance, are the main reasons behind the under-representation of women in the deep-tech sector.

Role of GCCs in the Indian economy

India has more than 1,500 GCCs that contribute approximately 1% to the country's GDP and employ more than 1.6 million professionals. The GCCs handle complex processes that are critical to business success and play a key role in the value chain. According to a 2023 report by Ernst & Young, India's domestic GCC market is expected to reach $110 billion by 2030 with over 2,500 tech centers employing more than four million professionals. The GCCs are increasingly focusing on the value proposition to retain talent. Companies are collaborating with partners to fulfill niche resource requirements at scale and speed.

In focus: Tier-II cities

For many years, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Pune hogged all the limelight as far as information technology (IT) activity in India was concerned, but not anymore. Tier-II cities are now capturing the interest of GCCs because of the growing availability of skilled labor at lower salaries, low cost of real estate, and improved infrastructure. India has a thriving start-up ecosystem that offers excellent opportunities for GCCs and start-ups to work together to accelerate the innovation journey. Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kochi, Mysuru, and Vishakhapatnam are increasingly finding favor in the demographic shift towards tier-II cities after the COVID-19 pandemic. This has also led to the development of an ecosystem that's favorable to business operations with a reduced total cost of operations (TCOs).

Tier-II cities and gender diversity

According to the India Skills Report 2024, tier-II cities like Lucknow and Mysuru now excel in the 22-25 age group employability, highlighting a huge female talent group waiting to be tapped. Indian GCCs can unlock this potential and tap a diverse and empowered workforce by implementing targeted recruitment and skill development programs. The post-pandemic business landscape has led to a pressing need to revamp workforce strategies and retain women technologists. It calls for prioritizing diversity, equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) as an ongoing commitment. Creating clear long-term goals, holding the leadership accountable, and incorporating DE&I-related key performance indicators (KPIs) are the first key steps.

With its promising talent pool and lower living cost, a tier-II city offers hope for young women to seek a fulfilling career closer to home. In the Indian socio-economic scenario, women often hesitate to move out of their hometowns to bustling metros like Bengaluru or Mumbai, largely because of family obligations and financial constraints. A GCC in a tier-II city is a bridge that allows them to access development programs, leverage skills, and build a rewarding career keeping their support system intact.

As India strives to become a $5 trillion economy by 2030, more inclusive reforms will be necessary to expedite growth. The growing presence of GCCs in tier-II cities is likely to significantly reshape the IT landscape by expanding the talent pool beyond the traditional big cities. GCCs, with a growing participation of women employees, are expected to empower them and drive economic growth. As GCCs continue to grow and innovate, they'll be able to lead by example and set new standards for DE&I in the tech and tech-enabled industry. Indian GCCs, with increasing women's participation can become change catalysts.

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