Staffing cos join search for women leaders
Now that gender diversity is getting a strong push from India Inc, headhunters have decided to throw their weight behind the move. From including a certain percentage of women in their candidate shortlist to identifying highquality women leaders in India and abroad through ‘talent mapping’, executive search firms are doing their bit to ensure that female managers get achance to man key posts in organizations.
Egon Zehnder, which has offices in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, has joined what is called a ‘Club of 30’, wherein 30% of the candidates the firm presents in a search are gender diverse. Originally a group of UKbased CEOs and chairs committed to improving gender balance through voluntary action, the 30% Club today is a global movement. Rajeev Vasudeva, CEO, Egon Zehnder, described it as a moral commitment. “We are not saying that they need to be hired. We are making sure we make enough candidates visible to our clients,” Vasudeva told TOI.
On their part, global recruitment firms like Antal International and Amrop are conducting in-depth analysis to map women leaders. This has become necessary as companies are determined to fill certain leadership posts with women.
When Antal International was recently faced with a demand from an MNC for a woman candidate in a quality control function, the search firm realized the client was simply not ready to consider a male profile for the role. Ultimately, they found and hired a woman candidate. “We have seen often how, even for critical hires and despite pressure from hiring heads, if orga
nizations feel that female candidates are more suited to the role, they are willing to wait till they find one,” said Mayank Chandra, managing partner, Antal International.
The search for suitable women leaders is not restricted to India alone. When Siemens India was looking to fill the post of a general counsel recently, the firm was very keen on hiring a woman. The company spent a lot of time on the search which went global. However, since it does not discriminate
on gender and is firm that all capability parameters are met during the hiring process, Siemens eventually filled the post with a male candidate. But if all parameters are met by a woman candidate, chances are that she would get the post. “When we look for talent for India, we don’t restrict the search to India or to Siemens’ global talent network,” said S Ramesh Shankar, HR head of Siemens in India.
In India, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles (H&S) has been proactive for the last couple of years in getting to know and track talented women on a global basis. “We have been producing key reports for some of our clients in India to get them to better understand the landscape and the challenges of attracting this talent pool,” said Gauri Padmanabhan, partner, H&S.
A key factor that is pushing companies to look for talented women candidates is to meet the new requirement under the Companies’ Bill of a compulsory woman board member. Amrop has done board projects for independent women directors and also conducted research on possible avenues where high-quality women leaders can be hired. One such project was
for a large telecommunications company which appointed a women director.
Companies are engaging agencies in ‘talent mapping’ where firms locate and track female talent to ensure their inclusion in future searches.
Some months ago, H&S was enlisted by a large global bank to produce a global female talent map for a couple of senior management roles. In India specifically, H&S routinely works with its global team to locate overseas a female board of director of Indian origin in order to help clients satisfy their gender inclusion goals.
“For some special roles, our clients prefer we expand the map and find talent on a regional scale,” said Padmanabhan.