Building a Diverse Workforce in India's Data Center Industry
The data center industry in India is growing, fueled by the rapidly evolving digital landscape, government policies, and a surge in cloud adoption. The sector is expected to grow by $8 billion by 2026.*
As we stand witness to this development of IT infrastructure pan-India, the question that arises is, ‘How will building a gender-diverse and equitable workforce augment future growth?’
Historically, incumbents of most of the roles in data centre industry have been men. In an effort to cater to customer expectations better by bringing in new and diverse perspectives, it becomes crucial to acknowledge and bridge gaps specifically related to gender balance and ensure equal opportunities in this niche industry.
Female representation in the data center industry is still a challenge we need to solve for.
In the current Indian data center scenario, women make up a small percentage of the workforce. 75% of global data center managers reveal that the female workforce represents only 10% of the total staff.**
The benefits of an inclusive workforce are actually a business case and not just a ‘good to do’ action-
- Innovation: Innovation, at its core, is rooted in perspectives. A varied perspective challenges the status quo and fosters creative solutions, leading to groundbreaking advancements in technology and infrastructure.
- Better decision making: Gender-heterogeneous teams consider a broader range of factors when making decisions. These result in well-rounded choices, leading to more effective strategies and risk management.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction: A workforce that reflects the diversity of the customer base can better understand and meet their needs. Varied perspectives in the decision making process are bound to deliver gender-balanced business outcomes.
Despite the ample benefits of gender-balance, why are Data Center organizations finding it challenging to build a diverse workforce?
- Sensitization: Sensitization plays a huge role in setting the stage for a more inclusive work environment. It is not just to create a safe and respectful space for women. It is about instilling the belief across the organisation that women can be industry leaders, and completely change the narrative by bringing in a different perspective.
- Infrastructure and logistics: Infrastructural support, like safety measures, is a prerequisite to encourage diversity in any industry. This requires focus and financial investment by the organization.
- Gender-sensitive Guiding Principles: The lack of well-structured policies often causes women to be hesitant to apply for jobs. As the DC industry is predominantly male-oriented, it is imperative that policies are made to encourage a more egalitarian workforce.
These large-scale developments are essential if we want to open up the conversation and invite more voices to the table.
Understanding this is what prompted us, at Nxtra by Airtel, to start from the very basics and build our way up to be industry leaders in creating a diverse employee base.
As of today, the Indian data center industry observes a small percentage of women in their employment as a norm. We have strived to, year-on-year, increase our percentage of female workforce and maintain a double-digit retention rate.
Here is how we have tried to do our bit to create an environment that empowers female talent.
- Fostering Flexibility: The DC industry demands hands-on involvement and constant availability. We strive to cultivate a culture that gives females a much-needed extra push for equal standing. We offer the option of flexible work hours, resulting in a greater number of women deciding to join our family while feeling wholly supported to nurture their own.
- Women-focused Programs: We acknowledge that new mothers are entering a completely new world of balancing work and motherhood. Airtel’s parental and childcare policies, such as an onsite crèche facility, maternal and paternal leaves, job security, and a fair performance review system, ensure that they feel supported and empowered every step of the way.
- Gender-inclusive Lateral Hiring: With initiatives that encourage women to come back to the workplace after career breaks, we are enabling them to move across industries and find the right fit. When looking for jobs that do not require industry specific knowledge, we open doors for women to step into the DC industry and explore the sector. We believe that it is not just about having the right skills, but rather about having the right mindset, belief system, and hunger to learn.
- Targeted Campus Hiring: Our latest initiative has been targeted campus recruitment. The idea was to look at young, emerging female talent and lend them the stage to discover the DC industry, get professional training, and learn the intricacies behind new-age tech. We have recruited 20 young, dynamic ladies as campus hires from institutions such as KK Wagh, BBDITM, ADGITM, and Pimpri, to give them a platform to pave their own path in the industry.
It is not just about fulfilling a ‘diversity quotient’ because your role requires you to, but one needs to look at the bigger picture. Without a well-represented voice, how can we expect that our business outcomes and services will have a larger impact on our society at large.
When speaking of the DC industry in India, we must take into account that it is a newly up-and-coming area of tech and development. As with most emerging sectors, it is a work in progress. However, as we enter this new age, we are in a privileged position to create a more equitable industry.
At the end of the day, the aim should not be to merely ensure inclusivity within one organization but to establish inclusivity as the industry norm for it to fully thrive.
*(Source: https://www.ibef.org/blogs/making-india-a-global-hub-for-data-centre-and-cloud-solutions )
** (Source: https://www.intelligentcio.com/latam/2024/01/17/data-centers-is-female-representation-still-a-challenge/)
Nxtra by Airtel, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel Limited, offers
largest network of secure, scalable, and sustainable data centers
in India to leading enterprises, hyperscalers, start-ups, SMEs
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