The mission of Epsilon India, the digital marketing agency, is to increase the share of women employees in its workforce to around 50 per cent, by 2020.
The initiative was started in 2016 when women comprised only 22 per cent of the workforce, and now the figure stands at 33 per cent.
The credit for the growing number of women at Epsilon goes to interventions brought in by the Company over the last two years.
While an internal audit showed that there was no difference in the progression of men and women in the hiring and selection process, the issue was the low number of women applicants in the organisation.
To increase the number of women candidates, Epsilon introduced a special referral programme to encourage more women applicants. “For every successful woman referred, in addition to paying out referral bonuses, we also committed to sponsoring the education of a girl child for five years,” says Seema Padman, VP-HR, Epsilon India.
“Our leaders are held accountable for making progress and achieving the outcomes desired from our 50:50 initiative. We recognise the need for a culture that actively fosters gender equality,” adds Padman.
Epsilon also conducts training sessions on ‘unconscious bias’, for managers and leaders to help them become more aware of how biases can play out in the decision-making process.
“Our leaders are held accountable for making progress and achieving the outcomes desired from our 50:50 initiative. We recognise that we need a culture that actively fosters gender equality”
To support the 50:50 initiative, Epsilon India introduced SheRises, a women’s returnship programme. This programme aims to bring back women, who had to discontinue their professional career for various reasons, such as motherhood, elder-care and partner’s career moves. It inducts women in a four-month internship programme and trains them to take on various roles.
Ten talented women have already been inducted through this programme. The key focus of the initiative was to enable them to be workplace-ready with some knowledge in basic technology and collaboration tools, followed by workshops on setting goals, building their brand, regaining confidence in their abilities and strengthening their networking skills. Subsequently, they worked in different business units and gained relevant work experience.
“From amongst these 10 women, we offered permanent roles to four in the areas of project management and quality assurance. They continue to work with us till date,” shares Padman.
While these interventions are not new and rather popular in the IT industry, they are also slowly gaining prominence in other sectors as well. They offer a great way to find talent amongst women and also present them with an opportunity to kick start their careers after a sabbatical.
‘Lead like a girl’ and ‘women in leadership’ are other learning and development (L&D) and leadership- development programmes targetted at women, for career progression.
Apart from gender diversity, Epsilon also focuses on building a ‘culture of courage’, wherein it encourages the employees to express their vulnerabilities and failures and also understand the vulnerabilities of others.
This allows people to accept their failures, and also learn from them.
“We believe that embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce is the key to driving innovation. Understanding the diverse consumer marketplace also drives great outcomes for our clients,” concludes Padman.