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Recognising the need for increased gender diversity in leadership roles within the organisation, the $17.8 billion Mahindra Group announced the launch of the ‘Women Leaders Program’ on Wednesday. It will provide training to women employees in the middle management level and help them in advancing into leadership positions.
“The gender diversity is currently 17 percent at the group level and 7 percent at leadership level. We hope to increase the percentage of women in leadership positions through this program,” says Anita Arjundas, managing director, president – real estate sector and member of the group executive board.
Recent studies by McKinsey indicate that India’s GDP could be boosted by as much as $700 billion by 2025 by eliminating gender inequality in organisations. Acknowledging this fact, Arjundas says diversity and inclusion have been a priority at the Mahindra Group, especially since the last four years when the group Diversity Council was established. “Thanks to this, the gender diversity in the real estate sector has increased to 21 percent from 15 percent and it is 33 percent in Tech Mahindra,” she says.
The group is investing one percent of its total profits for executing this programme. The training period spans across 18 months and will be conducted by the Mahindra Leadership University (in Nashik) in collaboration with SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (in Mumbai). Classroom training, e-learning, business simulation exercises and leadership challenge projects, among others, are a part of this training programme, at the end of which, the employee will receive a certificate.
“We are putting an ecosystem in place to ensure sustainability of learning,” says Dr Prince Augustin, executive vice president (Group Human Capital and Leadership Program). Dr Sumita Datta, head – Women Leadership Program, says the institute is introducing the element of how women take decisions vis-à-vis men, the risk element and the extent of risk that they take and what factors they consider when taking a business decision. Many of these aspects will be assessed while we are assessing how they have performed in the simulation.
In addition to the faculty from SP Jain, the women employees will receive guidance from mentors (skip-level managers) and project guides (to assist women in practical application of what they learn during the programme) from the Mahindra Group. That apart, they will also have coaches (External: Profiles of ten coaches will be circulated and the women employees chosen for the programme can choose their coach) and industry experts speaking to them as a part of the programme.
The first batch comprises 30 women employees selected by a nomination process by the business heads of individual sectors within the group. They will commence their training in Nashik around September 25 for a period of three weeks. The next training will be after a six-month interval. By the end of next year, the group expects to train around 100 women as part of this programme.
“The programme is unique and distinguishes itself from other similar programmes in synthesising current contemporary tools integrating knowledge with real time life experience to build competencies in managing life, teams and business challenges in an ever changing VUCA environment,” says Dr Ranjan Banerjee, director, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research.