In Campus Recruitment, IBM India Hires More Women than Men for IT

by Sujit John & Shilpa Phadnis, The Times of India

BANGALORE: In a landmark for the IT industry, maybe for most industries, IBM India has this year hired more women than men during its campus recruitment. This is significant because it’s happened in an industry where mass recruitment is the norm.

Of the campus recruitments done by IBM India till June, 52% were women — a quantum leap from the 38% in 2011 and 32% in 2010. IBM doesn’t disclose the numbers it hires, but large IT companies in India have hired over 30,000 people in recent years. Of these, about 70% have been campus hires.

Of the 265 engineers SAP Labs India hired this year, 42% are women, up from 34% last year. For Cisco India, the figure is 22% this year, down from last year’s 25%, but significantly higher than 16% in 2010.

The significant jump in the number of women hired by leading IT firms is remarkable especially because, as IBM’s recruitment leader for India Vardanahalli A Rangarajan notes, the average admission of women across engineering colleges in India is just 18%. Most companies have been working with placement cells in colleges to achieve these high numbers.

IBM says a major reason is awareness about facilities offered to women employees. “Our flexible work policies, the workfrom-home option, the ability to customize working hours are big attractions,” says Kalpana Veeraraghavan, diversity manager in IBM India.

Rangarajan says IBM has many women role models, including CEO Virginia Rometty.

SAP Labs targets the few women’s engineering colleges, including the Cummins Engineering College, Pune, and Meenakshi Engineering College, Chennai. It also conducts an online recruitment test for women across all engineering colleges on International Women’s Day. “It’s for women doing computer science and with a CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) of about 8. This year, 3,000 took the test. We flew in over 200 women to Bangalore for the final interviews, and selected 45,” says Anil Warrier, director for staffing, SAP Labs.

For the past five years, Cisco has been organizing every year a programme called Girls in Technology, where about 100 engineering graduates are invited to the company’s campus in Bangalore and exposed to the labs, work environment and culture.

Protima Achaya, Cisco’s lead for scaling services staffing in Asia-Pacific and Japan, says flexible workhours and excellent creche facilities are big attractions . “The number of women who join Cisco after this programme has been increasing every year. Such recruits tend to stay on for long,” she adds.

Accenture doesn’t disclose its women recruitment numbers. However, a spokesperson told TOI: “We have exclusive campus engagement programmes for women. We have Diversity Zones, a campus event which talks about several aspects of working at Accenture. Students get an opportunity to interact with senior women leadership and young achievers, who share their experiences about working at Accenture and how they are able to manage the work-life balance.”
At HCL Technologies, the overall percentage of women is almost 25, but the campus recruitment percentage is only 12. However, Srimathi Shivashankar , AVP for diversity and sustainability, says the percentage has been steadily rising and HCL has women-focused recruitment drives.

It’s increasingly acknowledged that diversity at the workplace is not only good in itself, but also has a profound influence on the operations of an organization. “Numerous studies show that increasing gender equality enhances productivity and economic growth. The best ideas flourish in a diverse environment, and companies benefit from accessing female talent,” Shivashankar says.

Adds IBM’s Kalpana Veeraraghavan : “When you mirror external reality at the workplace, employees feel more at home, and they behave more naturally. And that environment enables us to access a lot more talent.” At IBM, the overall percentage of women still remains about 28%, but the most recent initiatives suggest that the number could quickly rise to the ideal 50%.