Accenture pulls out all the stops to ensure gender diversity

Accenture pulls out all the stops to ensure gender diversity

Information technology (IT) services and consulting major, Accenture, has pulled all stops to ensure that gender diversity is maintained not only in the organisation, but also in the working population as a whole.

Through a slew of reforms like returning mothers programme, high-tech women programme, women alumni network, among others, the aim is to retain existing women in the team and get more number of them on board.

Joydeep Mukherjee, Managing Director — Financial Services, Delivery Centers for Technology in India, Accenture and Human Capital & Diversity Lead for Accenture in India said that few weeks ago they had started the ‘returning mothers programme’ to ensure that after getting back from maternity leave, these women have challenging roles to look forward to in the company.

The Accenture Delivery Centers for Technology in India introduced this new programme in January 2016 to focus on staffing and re-skilling women into technology roles upon their return from maternity leave. It ensures connect with returning mothers and their supervisors to create awareness about the organization’s commitment to gender diversity.

Here, before the maternity leave gets over, the human resources (HR) team gets in touch with her. She then decides whether she wants to come back or wishes to extend. So, a few weeks before she joins, the technology training intervention that she would need is decided by staffing and skilling division.

“It is crucial that the project manager has to be emphathetic so that she gets right kinds of support,” added Mukherjee.

A coach is assigned before the woman proceeds on maternity leave, and the coach keeps her engaged through the maternity leave period until she is back at work and settled in. About 300 coaches have signed up voluntarily to help other new mothers.

Returning mothers also go through specific development programs for up-skilling, refreshing or cross-skilling, based on open roles to ensure they are fully equipped to proceed on their career paths.

Mukherjee said that the biggest concern of returning mothers is that whether they will be able to get good roles once they are back. “Hence, we ensure that she is able to take up something more exciting,” he said.

They have already staffed around 75% of returning mothers into specific roles within a few weeks of their return to work.

Further, those who are currently on maternity leave are already looped in this programme and in touch with the HR team. Mukherjee said that they are already looking forward to coming back.

Globally, Accenture has more than 130,000 women. They aim grow the percentage of their women new hires to at least 40% worldwide by 2017. In India, they have more than 130,000 employees, of which there are over 45,000 women employees. Mukherjee explained that more than one-third of their new hires during fiscal 2015 were women.

Accenture Delivery Centers for Technology in India forms one part of Accenture’s overall workforce in India.

Career development programme is also an important area for the company. Hence, initiatives in this space have also been launched.

“Accenture’s Delivery Centers for Technology in India has a dedicated initiative called ‘high-tech women’ programme, which aims to see more women make the journey as technology architects and take the part to leadership in technology,” he said.

Introduced just a few months ago, they have about 1,100 women currently in the process of becoming technology architects. The aim here is to help them subject matter experts and move into next level of leadership.

Apart from this, Mukherjee said that the focus on women’s alumni network has helped. For women alumni, who have been on a career break for two to three years, women’s alumni network was launched. Furthermore, women alumni rehire policy was also revamped, making re-hiring process simpler for women alumni.

Accenture Delivery Centers for Technology in India has also introduced a dedicated program this year that identifies high-performing executive level women, which looks at supporting them to grow to leadership roles by making a series of personalised capability development programmes available for them.

Men are also an integral part of the process. Their ‘men as advocates of gender diversity’ programme engages men in creating equal workplaces and helps build a positive male mindset to gender equality.

Mukherjee said that their spirit of gender diversity is not restricted to the company alone. They have expanded it to other women professionals as well.

Vaahini is Accenture in India’s networking platform for women professionals that has helped bring together Accenture women as well as women outside Accenture, across the career spectrum — experienced professionals, new entrants to the corporate world and in-campus women. The network has over 89,000 women today.


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