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At SAP Diversity & inclusion is an integral part of our innovation agenda. We believe that diversity in our teams, play a crucial role in  delivering successful products in the market. As Diversity & Inclusion is a topic which needs broader understanding we planned to host a session where thought leaders in SAP ecosystem could come together and share our ideas and successful initiatives with each other. On March 12th 2015, during SAP TechEd, Bangalore, we hosted a network, Share and Learn session amongst thought leaders in the industry. Senior women leaders from our customer and partner networks were invited to be part of this session where ideas were shared with each other.

First in the agenda was the networking lunch, where participants got to know each other. After which the group of 16 were divided into 4 groups and each round table discussed on topics of Recruiting Talent, Retaining Talent, Career development and Women in Leadership roles. We had a charged up environment in the room and all participants were happy to share their experiences and successful initiatives in their respective companies.

Bhuvaneswar Naik (SAP), Uma Rani T M (SAP), Uma Maheswaran (SAP), Shraddhanjali Rao (SAP), Ramya Nagaraj (SAP), Meenakshi V (SAP), Radhika Madas (SAP), Mini Sarasamma (Nilgiris), Sheetal Pinjarkar (Deloitte), Navya Dayal (Allstate Solutions), Shilpa Mohanty (Novartis), Geetha Mohan (Cargill Business Services), Shivani Shetty (L&T), Sonali Nagle (L&T), Seema Seth (Zelalife), Pavithra KPM (Accenture) and Manisha Bhattacharya (Accenture) participated in the event. Summary of the presentations from each table is attached below.

Recruiting talent

Early talent recruitment group that is the campus hires and Lateral hires have different needs and challenges and so should be addressed separately. Challenges most companies face are that the ratio of available pool is less and sometimes family not prepared to send women to different cities. Initiatives that could help included

  • Having good sessions on existing company policies during recruitment
  • HR and Talent recruitment teams to be trained to make girls and parents comfortable about the company and its policies
  • Headcount replacement during maternity
  • Companies to voluntarily reach out after 2 years once a woman leaves the organization and onboard them without a formal interview

Retaining Talent

In this table the discussions revolved mostly around what the company can do and what should be self-driven by the women employees. The main challenges women face were linked to career breaks due to life events. Initiatives that could help included

  • Women to be given guidance to voluntarily look for positions,
  • Sensitize hiring managers to be unbiased when recruiting for roles that needs someone to work late night or in shifts to make sure that the decisions are unbiased
  • Organizations could support by creating and nurturing Networking groups, publishing stories about role models and inspiring stories, mentoring and buddy programs
  • Initiatives that could change the acceptance in society about women who take their career seriously which could involve CSR educational activities in the company
  • Include family support system in company initiatives, have activities that engage families, have family events
  • Companies to ensure salary parity for women at all levels

Career development

In this table the discussions were around, what women could do to propel their career. Self-driven initiatives that were discussed included,

  • Women have to decide whether they are looking for a job or a career, utilize the opportunities available in the organization
  • Be open about what you want and ask for them, also learn to say no
  • Give importance to your relationship with your peers and managers
  • Give importance to health
  • Provide opportunities that could help in building capabilities

Women in leadership

Here there was detailed discussions around initiatives companies could launch, which were,

  • Formal mentoring programs
  • Network and lunch events
  • Showcase more role models, both within and outside the organization
  • Help managers to articulate and establish flexible roles in the companies
  • Have formal trainings to develop core capabilities

Special thanks to Arvind Sharma (SAP) from PMCS and Vasanth Kumar (SAP) from COIL network for the support extended to make this event happen.

-- Thripthy, Shylaja, Santosh