Fortune India MPW: ‘Industry leaders must change mindset towards diversity’


How important diversity is for big Indian companies? A panel of experts at Fortune India's Most Powerful Awards in Mumbai agreed diversity in core sectors is essential if companies want to achieve better performance and earn higher profits.

Karana Totlani, Director, Corporate Services, Sodexo India, said diversity is significant in core sectors. “It's the right thing to do. We did a study across businesses and realised teams that are diverse have 18% better performance on engagement and profit.”

Rohin Nadir, Associate Partner, KPMG in India, said he heads an all-women team. “Hardest working people I know, one was my boss and the others are my colleagues, are much smarter and hard-working than me."

He said from a skilling perspective, his company does not distinguish between men and women. “I believe when women in their roles are not the primary caregivers, they go after every aspect of success very successfully.”

Mahika Shishodia, Head of Social Impact, Lodha group, said real estate is among the largest contributors to the GDP. “So as a sector, we have a greater responsibility to be inclusive. To get a better understanding of consumers, it is important for us to have a diverse workforce. I think barriers are the same as in other sectors – social and cultural barriers.”

What can be done to attract more women and other genders to the workforce? Karana Totlani says firstly, it’s important for leaders to change their mindset. “Usually, we hear reasons that women don’t work late, safety is an issue, leaves and stuff. We work with a large client, they opened a huge manufacturing plant, which is 12,000 people, 2 hours outside Bengaluru and they have a 70% diversity rate. So it's possible. If you want to do it, you can.”

Mahika says, through the 'Unnati' programme, her company is trying to develop a plan where work goes to women rather than another way around. She says in construction, diversity is low because of cultural factors, but in management, most departments have equal men and women.

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