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Enabling Inclusive Growth by Democratizing Access to Opportunities in the Business 4.0 Era

 

Balaji Ganapathy
Head of Workforce Effectiveness
14 June 2018

In an era where consumers are a ‘segment of one’ and demand nothing less than a digital-first-personalized-experience, enterprises are seeing the competitive advantage created by being intelligent, agile, automated, and on the cloud. At Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), we call this phenomenon ‘Business 4.0’ – a shift in thinking from ‘optimizing scarce resources’ to ‘harnessing abundance’.

However, Business 4.0 has much more to offer than just a competitive advantage for customers. At TCS and the Tata Group, we view it as a mission to improve the quality of life in various communities through long-term value creation. We consider it not only a moral obligation, but the fundamental ethos of our business, motivated by the need to ensure we bring ALL our stakeholders along on this new journey.

So, what does Business 4.0 mean for the community, and who are the key stakeholders?

We live in a world of economic, gender, and ethnic inequities with systemic barriers preventing large cross sections of our society from having access to opportunities that are created by the Business 4.0 era. It is therefore, imperative to harness abundance and democratize access, to provide opportunities for ALL.

Demographic trends indicate that women and minorities are the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. workforce. Despite rising levels of education, women, and minorities continue to be under-represented in the workforce-especially in high potential sectors and high paid, highly rewarding jobs. According to the latest data, on average globally, women have less than two-thirds of the economic opportunity than men. Traditionally, we tend to limit ourselves by the mindset of scarce resources even when private, public, and civic sectors coalesce to create partnerships and drive societal initiatives that address these inequities.

The Business 4.0 era however, presents us with unique opportunities created by technological advancement. By leveraging digital technologies, we can develop innovative solutions that will help communities leapfrog from traditional methods, thereby democratizing the access to opportunities. TCS for instance, is making significant strides in this direction. Over the past two decades, TCS adopted several progressive policies to promote gender equity at the workplace, across all levels of the organization. TCS is now one of the largest employers of women in the world, with more than 130,000 female employees.

As the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report illustrates, the education attaintment gap is narrowing but the same cannot be said of the economic opportunity gap. This is where industry can play a key role in supporting women on the pathways from education to careers. Some of the ways in which industry can engage are through gender sensitization of educational content, providing business context – how to apply one’s education in a work environment, improving confidence by engaging industry professionals as role models and mentors, building traditional and non-traditional partnerships that help provide more access to women, and in-house programs that build persistence and retention for career growth.

How can we build solutions that have sustainability and impact?

By meeting people and communities that are in need and engaging them in prolem solving, one can build solutions that have sustainability and impact. Let’s take a look at a few TCS examples:

  • All-Women Technology Center in Riyadh, Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia. Over 1000+ employees, 85% Saudization, 610K training hours, and 50 countries supported, these women are empowered to drive social and economic growth.

  • TCS goIT, our flagship education program that inspires students, across 58 U.S. and Canadian cities, to use technology and solve real world problems. By addressing stereotypes around gender and ethnicity while designing the program, we were able to buck the trend of vast under-representation of girls and women in the computing fields – over 42.3% of TCS goIT participants are girls.

  • Million Women Mentors, an initiative that has become a national movement to engage industry mentors to advance girls and young women in STEM education and careers. Since 2013, we have garnered over 2.2 million mentor pledges and 1 million mentor-mentee relationships because of a cross-sector effort.

While the impact of such solutions are promising and positive, businesses around the world need to play a bigger and more direct role in bridging the gap between education attainment and economic opportunity. We cannot rest until we create pathways to significantly improve equity and access, laying the groundwork for a day when gender parity is no longer a dream, but the norm.

About the author(s)
Balaji Ganapathy
Head of Workforce Effectiveness

Balaji oversees the functions of HR Business Consulting, Diversity & Inclusion, and Corporate Social Responsibility for TCS' largest market, North America. Under his stewardship, TCS is using its technology innovation, thought leadership, and skill-based volunteering to impact the state of STEM education in North America, with a special focus on impacting women and young girls, minorities and under-represented groups.

Balaji serves as the Chair of STEMconnector®'s STEM Innovation Task Force SITF), Chairperson of NPower's (TCC Advisory Council, Vice-Chair of the Million Women Mentors (MWM) Leadership Council, Executive Committee of IMPACT 2030, World Economic Forum's Steering Committee, and is part of US Chamber of Commerce's Education, Employment & Training Committee (EETC).

Balaji was awarded the 2017 Charlie H. Moore Award for Leadership in Corporate Community Engagement by CECP, the CEO Force for Good and presented with the 2017 Million Women Mentors Male Champion of Change Award. He strongly believes in the unique opportunity to address today's societal challenges and open the doors to prosperity for all, through the combined power of purpose, people and technology.

 

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