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DEI intent strong and transcending industry boundaries

Wednesday November 24, 2021, By Diversity Digest

The needle of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives is moving, intentionally and assertively in the 100 Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI), observed Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President, Avtar Group.

The final day of the two-day conference titled Best Practices of the 100 Best Conference by Avtar and Working Mother saw Dr. Saundarya present the growth journey of BCWI in the last six years. She traced the highlights, delving into the dimensions of India’s largest annual gender analytics exercise. It was followed by an announcement of the top 10 and Top 100 BCWI awards on November 19.

Dr. Saundarya observed that the intent transcends industry boundaries. In the 100 Best companies list in 2021, there is representation from the sectors of India’s pride – IT/ITES, the fast-evolving manufacturing sector, the always in business – FMCG and BFSI, Retail, Pharma, E-commerce, and Retail, to name a few.

“Year on year, we have not only been able to raise the bars higher, for every organization to aspire for greater heights on the curve of inclusion maturity, but also generate very healthy competition amongst this fraternity,” she said.


6 years of remarkable growth in terms of women’s representation in the 100 Best;

-Women’s representation has moved up from 25% to 34.5%

-Women at the managerial level have moved up from 19% to 25%

-At leadership levels, there has been a 2% surge – from 13% to 15%

-73% of the companies reported heightened DEI rigor even amidst the challenges of 2020, they started investing more, inclusion became a personal priority when crises of a different order stomped the world in the name of Covid.


Some of the exclusive initiatives that companies brought in to keep alive the spirit of equity and inclusion include:

-Support for mental and physical well being

-Proactive reach-outs by grievance redressal units

-Sessions on crises management

-Holistic caregiving support through paid caregiving leaves


Dr. Saundarya presented a snapshot of diversity focus across strands at the companies that were placed in the Index, this year.

“While 83% of companies report exclusive focus on LGBTQIA as an important diversity strand, the companies in the index collectively engage with 4000+ People with Disabilities. This is even as we know that job opportunities are extremely lean for this population and only 10% of them are engaged in active jobs,’ she said.

So, what does this exercise mean to companies and DEI practitioners? Creating benchmarks across the contours of DEI manifestation at workplaces, the BCWI framework covers representation to policies on recruitment and advancement, flexible work, safety and security, flexible work, parental leave, benefits, and culture. She said, “This rubric of assessing the Best Companies and most importantly, creating market benchmarks is not dependent on employee perception, which we believe is in peril of being influenced by seasonal highs and lows. We base our assessment on policy rigor, on the intent of inclusion and the actual, real impact of what those policies have delivered.”

She called on the industry to take bold strides to sustain the momentum, apart from appealing to the stakeholders in the government. “This community of DEI enthusiasts believes it is time we have a national charter for DEI. We aspire for your support in incentivizing diversity representation in medium and small enterprises. We wish for large-scale awareness campaigns on the need for inclusion,” she said.

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