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Women’s Leadership Programs Missing Key Elements; Could Mean Missed Opportunities for India Inc., New Catalyst Study Finds

NEW YORK— According to Catalyst’s latest report on India Inc., 2010 India Benchmarking Report, 68 percent of companies in India have formal strategies for women’s advancement in place—yet these programs lack elements crucial to their success, including metrics and indicators to measure their impact, hold managers accountable, and engage men in advancing women to leadership. Given that women represent a largely untapped resource with the potential to help solve India’s looming talent crunch, such tools are vital to any program intended to advance women. This report also reveals that leadership development programs essential to women’s advancement rank lowest in availability and priority.
“Companies in India should strengthen their women’s advancement programs if they wish to stay competitive in today’s global economy. Programs and policies alone are not enough—accountability matters too. For these programs to be effective, it’s necessary to connect goals with results,” said Nancy Carter, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research, Catalyst, and Visiting Scholar, INSEAD.
Key findings of this report include:

  • Fewer than 50 percent of companies held managers accountable for meeting diversity targets through performance goals or links to bonus pay or compensation.
  • In the area of mentoring, where reporting companies had relatively high rates of implementation—71 percent with formal mentoring programs, including 68 percent with programs for high-potential employees—only one third reported tracking outcomes such as promotion and/or retention rates.
  • Most India Inc. companies (75 percent) reported having flexible work programs, but many failed to track utilization of these programs.
  • Of the companies offering flexible work programs, few reported greater than 25 percent utilization—32 percent of companies reported greater than 25 percent utilization of flexible arrival and departure programs, 11 percent reported greater than 25 percent utilization of telecommuting programs, and only 7 percent reported greater than 25 percent utilization of reduced work/part-time work programs.
  • Fewer than 50 percent of the companies surveyed reported holding managers accountable for aspects of diversity including the retention of diverse talent (42 percent), promoting diverse slates/appointments (32 percent), or tracking the allocation of work assignments (20 percent).
  • Only 17 percent of India-HQ (and 51 percent of India-subsidiary) companies offered leadership development programs specifically for women.
  • Only 34 percent of companies reported having gender training/development opportunities for men, a critical factor which Catalyst research has identified as key to eliminating gender bias.

This is the second report in Catalyst’s Advancing Women in India series, which focuses on building awareness and offering action steps for developing and advancing women in corporate India. IBM Corporation sponsored this report at the President’s Circle level.
“Diversity for us is a business imperative and has always been a priority. IBM’s initiatives towards women employees go beyond hiring and retaining women talent and extend to building the women leadership pipeline. IBM has a host of programmes to enable women to enhance their leadership and networking skills. The benefits to IBM’s bottom line as a result of employing a more diverse workforce have been significant,” said Dr. Chandrasekhar Sripada, Vice President & Head HR-India/South Asia.
Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.