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Companies race to campuses to have more women at finish line

Mumbai: Traditional companies in India are focusing on hiring more female workers during this campus recruitment season, as manufacturing firms strive to widen the talent pool and build a pipeline of women professionals by grooming them early, in a sector that is highly male-dominated.

Companies are targeting female graduates at leading engineering and management schools (IITs, IIMs, NITs, etc) and undergraduate colleges such as
St. Stephens, Lady Shri Ram College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, and St. Xavier's College for entry-level roles, top executives told ET.

Core sector companies in steel, cement, engineering, energy, automobile, and infrastructure, among others, are looking to boost their intake of female students to 30-50% of their fresher hiring pool from the 2024 batch, the executives said.

The renewed focus on expanding the female workforce is driven by companies' need to infuse their organisations with fresh ideas and foster innovation as they venture into emerging businesses.

Diversified conglomerate JSW Group will increase its campus intake of women talent to 30% from engineering schools in the Class of 2024 compared to 27% a year ago. For B-schools, about 35% of the total hires will be women.

"The group is stepping up its focus on diversity and demographics (millennial hiring)," said CHRO Dilip Pattanayak.

This will help create a culturally dynamic and forward-looking organisation for the next phase of growth, said Pattanayak.

The focus is on creating opportunities across businesses.

"This includes hiring younger talent as well as women engineers in our factories and across the organisation," said Pattanayak. "The group aims to achieve a 15% gender diversity mix by FY30 from the current mix of 6%."

Engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro will hire 30% women for Graduate Engineer Trainee (GET) and Post-graduate Engineer Trainee (PGET) intake. "We have seen a consistent rise in our women's hiring and overall initiatives in increasing the women workforce," said CHRO C. Jayakumar. "We remain committed to further increasing this percentage in the current year," he added.

RPG Group is aiming for more than 40% gender diversity in fresher hiring from the Class of 2024, up from 35% a year ago. Supratik Bhattacharyya, chief talent officer, said: "Entry level/fresher hiring is a key way for us to build gender diversity into our workforce."

Companies like Vedanta are focussing on campus drives from women engineering colleges like Banasthali Vidyapith. The company has increased the intake of female workers from 22% in 2020 to 40% in 2023, and is aiming at 50% in the next couple of years, said Madhu Srivastava, CHRO.

Global energy company Schneider Electric, which sees India as a global talent hub, is targeting a 50% gender mix for new hires across diverse domains including data analytics, digital services, data science, and cybersecurity. "This is critical to building a robust pipeline of future leaders in various technical domains," said Binu Philip, CHRO for the Greater India Zone at Schneider Electric.