Diversity Hiring in the Technology Industry

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1316 , Published on 07 December 2012

Companies in the IT and the semiconductor industry are becoming increasingly aware of the need for targeted efforts to recruit and retain women. Increasing or maintaining a good diversity ratio is challenging since it’s a small pool of talent that all the companies are looking to hire from. This article deals with some of the hiring practices adopted by companies in India to recruit “women in technology”.

The well-established IT players have the best diversity ratio ranging from 24 to 32 %. The ratio in the semiconductor industry is considerably lower ranging from 10 to 20%. The reason for this is fewer women in colleges choose to pursue higher education in subjects which make them employable in the semiconductor industry.


Another important factor which determines the number of women in companies at the entry level is colleges that these companies hire from. Campuses like IITs and NITs have diversity ratios which are significantly low compared to other colleges. Hence companies which hire mostly only from these campuses tend to have a lower diversity ratio. One of the best practices followed by companies who hire in large numbers is to have targets for hiring at campuses. Having a gender balanced internship programme also helps to improve the diversity at the entry level.

In the experienced hiring space, Companies refrain from having targets for managers for selection. They believe that this creates resentment and dissatisfaction among the managers and the employees. The targets are usually at sourcing level to ensure that there is sufficient representation of women in the pool of applicants.

Vendors are paid extra (10-30 %) for resumes mainly at higher grades. Referrals targeted at encouraging women to refer other women are prevalent. Some companies also give higher referral bonuses or incentives like laptops to employees who refer a female candidate who gets selected.

“Women only recruitment” drives attract more women applicants. This is a common practice across big players in the IT services industry. But some firms believe that such a practice will dilute their image as an “equal opportunity” employer.

The number of women who are returning from an average of 3-5 years break is increasing hence another trend among the Indian companies is hiring back women who are on career breaks due to family. This is done through high performing alumni or through referrals.

Some of the hiring managers believe that representation of women in the selection team encourages applicants and helps to overcome biases in selection. A multinational professional services company conducts leadership talk for women attending the recruitment drive. Initiatives like scholarship for outstanding women in schools and colleges help brand the efforts of the company in this direction. This also attacks the heart of the problem which is the lack of availability of adequately skilled female workforce in the market by building a talent pool.

One size is not likely to fit all and every company needs to figure out which of these practices would suit them the best to hire diverse talent. However for all, attracting talent is a more expensive affair than retaining existing talent. Companies are becoming increasingly focused towards retaining the women hired. The list of benefits for women provided by companies included flexi timings, work from home, Diversity council, champions, mentorship programmes, extended maternity benefits. Flexibility is the key to retain women.

The prerequisite for a company to take efforts in this direction is to have business buy in and to get managers sensitized to this business need of diversity.

This article has been authored by Neelima Aravind MBA (HR) from SCMHRD.


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