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Business Women Get More Opportunity, DNA

Corporates in India have long woken up to the diversity issue. From hiring more women, to designing policies to bring women who have taken a break from their career back into workforce, companies are doing their bit to improve the gender ratio within their organisation.

However, the country still does not boast of too many women leaders. Hence, organisations in their quest to help women become leaders have started in-house entrepreneurship programmes for their women employees.

These programmes encourage women employees to ideate and develop their own products from start to finish. Here she is her own boss while the company acts as her mentor.

This becomes an important tool since more often than not since women tend to go in a shell when it comes to talking about their achievements. This results in missing out on promotions, low morale etc.

Companies like SAP Labs, Tesco HSC , GE ITC among others are making the effort to foster women intrapreneurship, entrepreneurship within the organisation.

"Though as far as women representation in our office is concerned, we always had a healthy ratio. However, what bothered me was small representation of women in decision making position or leadership roles," says Anju Sethi, head - learning and development at Tesco HSC which has its office in Whitefield.

Hence, Tesco HSC, the operations and technology arm of the global retailer, as part of their diversity and inclusion initiatives, set up a programme to awaken the entrepreneur in 20 women in the company. Once selected to be part of the 'Women in Leadership Development programme', they are tasked with designing a venture around on-campus organizational services that could be availed by employees. "They had to make a business plan, propose it to funders just like it would happen in any business," says Sethi.

The response has been good. One of the entrepreneurs from Tesco HSC, Archana Iyer, manager, property services, Tesco HSC, says the programme has given her gamut of experience. "I never thought I could write a business plan, pitch my idea to funders etc. This programme has truly showed what I am capable of," Iyer says.

She is now running her idea 'Talent Connect' within the company. It is essentially a marketplace for products and services created by colleagues. Even SAP Labs held a session recently for women where in they spoke about entrepreneurship. Cisco too has a programme wherein they encourage their women employees to come up with product ideas which they can develop. GE ITC has a programme called 'Women Initiative on Learning and Leading (WILL) designed for hi-potential diverse employees at the centre.

"The program gives the participants a chance to work across businesses verticals, perform on high visibility projects and practice their leadership skills. It also affords them the opportunity to be more self aware and informed. We have seen a promising number of participants being promoted and take on bigger roles," says Tarun Thomas, manager, organization & staffing, GE India Technology Centre.

"Training sessions for women are good. However, programmes wherein they are asked to pursue entrepreneurship are of a different level. They help an organisation in identifying women leaders," says Sunil Goel from GlobalHunt, a consultancy firm.

Sethi says that women should realise that they are no less than men.