The Importance of Women in Tech Workforce

By: Srimathi Shivashankar, Corporate Vice President & Global Business Head - EdTech, HCL Technologies

Srimathi has an extensive experience of more than two decades in Business and Human Capital strategy. She has headed and primed several global transformation initiatives at HCLTech. She won the WeQual Award in 2021 in the Business Transformation category, and was named in the top 25 Women leaders in Consulting for 2022 and 2023 by the Consulting report.

Women Entrepreneur recently got a chance to interact with Srimathi about various aspects to leadership, women in tech roles and various other aspects. Below are the excerpts from the exclusive conversation.

Tell us about your understanding of a sustainable business strategy. How can businesses become more sustainable and promote sustainable development?

Although the definition of what a sustainable strategy is and how corporate companies must approach is constantly changing in recent times, the fundamentals pertaining to this aspect came in early 2000s through the Triple Bottom-line concept of ‘people, planet & profits’. Whenever corporates look at profiles and draw strategies around how they need to run the business, launch their products into market, managing various stakeholders and discuss their T&L on a regular basis, they should plan all this with people aspect as the focus point. Only through the interlinking of people, planet and profit can an organization be able to bring sustenance into its strategy.

Why is leadership development not more incentivized and supported in SMBs and startups?

To become a leader, one has to move out of their comfort zone and inspire others to take risks. Being a leader and getting groomed as a leader is a very inherent character. Also, only when the company identifies the necessary leadership skills in an individual does it proceed to invest time & efforts into grooming that person into a leader. Just because a person is a manager doesn’t make him a leader; even an individual at an entry level might exhibit exceptional leadership traits than the ones in higher roles & positions than him/her. Irrespective of having a formative approach to leadership development or not, if the organization can create a work environment where people can take risks and come-up with disruptive ideas, it is sure to be on the right path towards effective leadership development. To summarize, it is about the work culture, work environment and their capability stand-out and do something different.

As a women leader, what strategies have you employed to strike work-life balance and overcome any gender-specific hurdles in the business world?

A leader is gender-agnostic, and the position of a leader doesn’t differentiate between a male or a female. Today, for every leader, there are a host of work-life balance priorities that are coming-in.However, I always tell people that there is no such thing as a work-life balance; work and life and in continuum in today’s digital world. We have that flexibility of opting when to work and when to take care of our personal lives. Thankfully, digitization of workplace has enabled us to effectively reprioritize our work and life continuum. Also, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to the best of their abilities is another efficient way of having a proper work-life balance.

Also, instead of being focused on quantity, people must start focusing on the quality aspect when it comes to work-life balance. This is because being focused on the quantity aspect – for instance, the number of hours spent at work instead of with family – leads to feeling guilty about not spending much time on the latter and thus results in decreased productivity at both work and personal lives.

As for gender bias is concerned, there is still an unconscious bias among most of us, wherein the picture of a women cooking food instantly comes into our when we talk about a mother and the picture of a man reading a newspaper or having coffee comes to our mind when we talk about a father. This unconscious bias can only be curtailed if children are made to understand the importance of gender equality and the ill-effects of gender bias right from the early phase of their childhood education itself.

How important is the role of women in the tech workforce?

Every organization is bound to lose a lot of human capital if there is deficit of women in the tech workforce. Also, I personally feel that the percentage of women in total tech workforce must be as high as possible if our country has to improve its GDP. Also, every company should be a reflection of what is available in the community as male and female talent in the same ratio. Only then can the capital of the organization grow to its fullest potential.

Secondly, men and women bring different perspectives to the table. An organization will definitely miss-out on any potential feedback, idea or opportunity if it fails to take into consideration the perspectives from both the genders. Furthermore, men and women can bring complimentary leadership styles into the workplace. As a result, it is paramount for every organization to leverage gender diversity as a potential aspect towards achieving the desired business outcomes.

What is your advice to women in terms of technology adoption?

Women need to be empowered and they must continue up skilling themselves with various modern day technologies. This is because continuous learning alone can make women feel more confident and self-reliant when facing diverse aspects of both personal and professional lives. Also, stop seeing new technologies as rocket science and never shy away from using and experimenting with them.