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'At Infosys we concentrate on breaking the stereotypes'

By Prasanna D Zore
March 08, 2010 13:20 IST
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Srimathi Shivashankar, principal diversity officer, InfosysAs part of our series on women at workplace to celebrate International Women's Day, Infosys's principal diversity officer, Srimathi Shivashankar tells us how the company is facilitating an inclusive work environment and encouraging women to emerge as leaders.

Employee-friendly policies for women at Infosys.

Infosys Women's Inclusivity Network (IWIN) was initiated in 2003 to assist women unleash their potential by providing opportunities for professional and personal development and critiquing management policies and procedures to ensure that the Infosys workplace is inclusive, equitable, and open to the innovative ideas and approaches that women can contribute.

It looks into the various issues facing women in the organisation -- creating alternate work models, flexible timings and schedules, part-time working option, enabling connectivity at home, peer counselling and mentoring for new mothers to adopt a work-life balance etc. In addition, to ensure a safe and conducive work environment, Infosys has taken several steps to strengthen processes and training procedures.

We have set up a satellite office at MG Road which intends to provide expecting as well as young mothers an alternative to cut down travel time from their residence to office. As of now, we have this facility in Bangalore.

We have launched Infosys Alumni portal to create a sense of amity between ex-Infoscions and allow them to keep in touch and expand their networks under the Infosys umbrella. Also we plan to launch job openings through this portal so that our alumni can apply for the suitable openings.

We also have a mentoring network in place called IWINtor. Senior women employees, women achievers within the organisation act as mentors for other women employees.

Infosys's initiatives that help emergence of women leaders in the company.

At Infosys, women are employed in all possible roles both in technical as well as in support functions at all Infosys locations. IWIN launched a special mentoring programme for women. We have also partnered with major gender networks and forums across the globe to benchmark our practices in inclusivity and publish research papers.

The positive impact of IWIN initiatives in the company is that the proportion of women senior managers has increased. When IWIN was initiated, there were no women heading business units. But recent statistics indicate women in several key leadership roles.

Any specific hiring policies at Infosys that help provide employment to underprivileged but talented women in Infosys?

We believe in providing equal opportunities at Infosys and here's our philosophy and approach:

At Infosys, we believe that it is important to create an equal opportunity environment. Hence we embrace meritocracy and all our employees are recruited on the basis of their ability to learn, adapt, and assimilate change. We believe in providing a level playing ground and our hiring practices do not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or nationality. We have a local hiring strategy, based on our business needs and local government policies.

Equal opportunities enablers

Our Human Resources Department focuses on creating an inclusive and open work environment in which every employee can participate, develop and contribute equally. We reward our employees based on the value they create. Rewards are based on performance rather than on experience and hierarchy. Our value of transparency is reflected in our performance management systems and processes which allows every employee a platform for free and equitable discussion and feedback.

What does it mean to be a woman at workplace in the 21st century?

Woman in earlier days were assigned jobs that were not strenuous and demanding as the family and the home were always considered as a woman's first priority. However, women in the 21st century strive for professional growth as well as work-life balance. This is made possible by organisations by having women-friendly policies and sensitising the workforce about the uniqueness that the female employees bring in to the organisation. The 21st century workplace aims at creating equal opportunities and tapping the potential of its employees, with no discrimination against gender, background, etc.

How is Women's day celebrated at Infosys?

At Infosys we raise the awareness levels among all stakeholders on diversity and inclusion, through the D & I week every quarter. We usually have this week to mark an important day such as International Women's Day / World Cultural Day / International Youth Day / World Disability Day.

We don't focus on events, but concentrate on breaking the stereotypes and mindsets that exist in a work place to facilitate an inclusive work environment. Which means we are open to dialoguing with our colleagues, question the norms and arrive at what may be good for individuals and the companies in the long run for creating an inclusive community.

This March we focused on 'Sustainable Inclusion'. It is time we all checked how sustainable our practices are and are we futuristic enough in our goals. In order to reach the global audience, we had panel discussion recorded and broadcasted through Infosys TV network. The discussion was around 'Diversity -- Future challenges'.

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Prasanna D Zore