Sulekha’s robust and fair performance management system, strongly linked to its talent management, led to a lot of women automatically emerging as high performers.
Diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic for discussion in most boardrooms for a few years now — especially after the Companies Act 2013 mandated having more women in leadership positions. While most organisations have been struggling to up their diversity numbers and trying out various innovative ways to attract more women talent, some businesses take the easy way out promoting or hiring women, irrespective of their potential, in a bid to obey the government’s mandate.
On the other hand, there is one organisation that has achieved a significant improvement in its gender diversity ratio in the last few years, without succumbing to any desperate, deliberate measures. A balance in gender diversity came to it naturally as it consciously worked upon some basic organisational elements.
The percentage of women staff at Sulekha, a digital platform for local services in India, is currently 41 per cent. Interestingly, over a period of three years, the percentage of women employees has increased from 20 per cent to 41 per cent. It is even more interesting that the company does not believe in focussed women-friendly policies but employee-friendly policies.
Sulekha has a flexi-work-hours policy, which can be availed by the entire staff, not just the women. Yet, the number of women in the workforce increased because the company simply focussed on ensuring an equal and unbiased breeding ground for its staff. It worked on a robust and fair performance management system, strongly linked to its talent management. As a result, a lot of women automatically emerged as high performers.
The share of women employees in the workforce increased from 25% to 40% because the company simply focussed on ensuring an equal and unbiased breeding ground for its staff.
“Women constitute 50 per cent of the hires at Sulekha, due to our focus on creating a high-performance culture across all our teams. By forming a meritocratic and analytical performance measurement system, we realised that women outperform men in several of our divisions and have risen to occupy leadership positions in the sales, product and HR teams,” says Satya Prabhakar, CEO and founder of Sulekha.com
About 45 per cent of the women currently hold senior positions in sales, customer support and product development. Also, the women sales leaders constitute nearly 45 per cent of all sales leaders at Sulekha. In addition, 50 per cent of the new hires at Sulekha today are women. Vasudha Nandal –VP, human capital management, Sulekha shares that, “Our
talent acquisition teams are also dedicated to ensuring an equal opportunity platform. The role requisition templates at Sulekha are devoid of gender specifications.”
She reveals that the leaders at Sulekha have ongoing coaching conversations with the teams that contribute to holistic growth and development of the workforce. Since a lot of the users at Sulekha are women, it makes sense for them to have a gender-balanced workforce, with a good number of women spread across various teams.
Prabhakar adds that “From having less than 25 per cent of women employees, I can proudly say that more than 40 percent of our entire employee strength comprises women – and each of them is adding significant value to our enterprise.”
Women sales leaders constitute nearly 45 per cent of all sales leaders at Sulekha
Now, as the company is looking to hire engineers in Chennai and sales teams across all its eight branches in India, Prabhakar says that, “We are looking forward to a time when nearly half of our employee base across all functions is made of women in the next two to three years.”
The gender diversity numbers at Sulekha prove that it is not all about having unique women-oriented programmes or policies. Rather, what really makes a difference is ensuring a work environment that keeps at bay all the barriers that slow down growth of women in the workplace. “Women don’t need to be treated differently at the workplace but as equals. If that’s well accepted, then there is no need to have women-specific policies but gender-neutral ones, with a stronger focus on performance and potential,” she opines.
While most organisations form policies around ensuring the safety of women working late at office, Sulekha, as a general practice, does not encourage late working at all. In fact, it mandates that no meetings are ever held beyond after 7 p.m. Small practices, such as these count in ensuring an equal opportunity platform at a workplace. This makes gender diversity balance a naturally occurring element at Sulekha, unlike other organisations, which spend humungous budgets and efforts to achieve the same.