Bridging the Gender Gap in the Indian Security Industry: Diversity and Inclusiveness.

The SECURITY TODAY Editorial Team attended the OSAC Quarterly Chapter Meeting on August 4, 2016 hosted at the Google office in Gurgaon, Harayana. The meeting took off with Col. Harendra Bana, Chief of Security, PepsiCo India as the master of ceremonies and Jeff Horkey, Regional Security Officer, Embassy of the United States of America providing the opening remarks for the meet. Col. Bana, setting the tone for the meeting, provided the audience with some food for thought – ticking their brains with various questions pertaining to the agenda at hand: The inclusive of women leaders in the Indian Private Security Industry.
The meeting included a presentation by Mr. GurucharanVirdi, Vice President – Corporate Security, Bank of America, on Six-Sigma Tools deployed by him within his organization to increase employee efficiency. Mr. Virdi began by providing a brief background and the foundations of the Six-Sigma tools which began during the early 19th century by a group of carpenters who used it to increase their efficiency – an effort which was carried forward by Toyota in the 1950s.
Mr. Virdi highlighted the various problems present within an organization, such as wastages within processes, before providing his insight into how six-sigma tools can be implemented. Based on his personal implementation of the tools, he used Lean Process Value Stream Mapping, a method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. In addition to this, he introduced a Project Risk Matrix that specifies the stakeholders of the process, the technology being used, project execution process, and risk assessment to identify areas with the highest risks. Furthermore, he used a Kano Graph to set the goals for the organization and what the future state should be. He identified three levels of quality desired by the stakeholders: the must be – expected quality; the One-Dimensional – desired quality; and the Delighters – elated quality. In addition to this, Mr. Virdi implemented a process of Quality Function Deployment with Six-Sigma tools wherein the lists of the customer’s needs are stated, what the employees need to do in order to achieve that desired level of customer satisfaction, the turnaround time, processing time, and quality assurance. Then, six-sigma professionals were included in the process to link what the customers want with the aims of the business to identify the focus areas for the management.
Setting the context for the meeting, Shraddha Bhandari, Assistant Vice-President – Intelligence and Analytics, Barclays Bank Plc, spoke about the inclusiveness of women leaders within the security industry. Shraddha, as preliminary remarks for her presentation, used various current-day examples to show how it is a ‘Women’s Club’ in global politics today – a feat that may have been unimaginable in the recent past: Theresa May, the new PM of the United Kingdom; Hilary Clinton, although not yet elected, is still a primary candidate for the Presidency of the United States; Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany; and Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
To provide a factual basis for her argument, she presented a study conducted by the Harvard Business School wherein it concluded that if women are at least 30-40% of the organizations total employee force, they can dramatically shape the way an organization operates. Applying the Glass Cliff Phenomena, if women reach a 35-40% of the total employee force, they are more likely to grow into leadership roles. In addition to this, Shraddha presented a study carried about by McKinsey in India that stated that India could increase its GDP by almost 60% by 2025 by bridging the gender gap in the Indian private and public sectors.
In a poll conducted in the Indian Private Security Industry, it was concluded that most organizations hired women due to their good analytical skills, good communication skills, knowledge support, relationship management, better teamwork, and to bring diversity and inclusiveness to the organization. In the same poll, when asked why they are not likely to hire women, the results varied from “It’s a man’s world” to more logical ones, such as late night hours/high risk areas, and that it is difficult for women to handle guards.
To highlight the current progress in bridging the gender gap in India, Shraddha stated some past achievements such as the recruitment of women in the Indian Army in 1993 for non-medical professionals. In the Indian Civil Services examinations, women have topped all examinations in the past few years and 16% of the people in cyber-crime state forces in India are women. Based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Performance, India has almost achieved educational parity. However, policies on diversity and inclusiveness can negate merit, hence demotivated the employee. Therefore, it is empirical for businesses to address such challenges and creating demand and supply side balances by sensitizing and training women in order to remove such obstacles. In a macroeconomic scale, this means that a shift from the unorganized sector – such as manual labor or farming – to the organized sector can be observed in India within the next few years if women employment keeps increasing in various industries.
In order to support the arguments made by Shraddha, a cluster based discussion broke outmoderated by various women in leadership roles within the Indian Security Industry. During the discussion it became clear that certain pre-existing notions within the Indian security industry – and the private sector at large – need to be addressed in order to promote women inclusiveness in leadership positions. The various problem areas highlighted were: a perceived notion that women cannot work in the security industry, the reluctance of women in joining the security industry considering it unorganized, hassled, and cartelizing that makes it an unattractive career choice, an equal opportunity for women to work in the security industry when compared to other industries, and the obstacles faced by them at their workplace.
However, in the security industry, like any other organization, the Human Resources Department is responsible for the hiring and inclusiveness of women in the workplace. In order to provide a perspective of the HR Department, Saumya Mittal, Human Resources Leader, PepsiCo India provided a presentation with her perspective on diversity and inclusiveness. To showcase the importance of diversity in an organization, Saumya provided various positive aspects of diversity such as the differing perspective it provides, the higher possibility for innovation, and the space for the right talent to be there. However, to relate it to the agenda at hand, she provided various diagnostics about women in the workplace. Across the globe, women are paid less by 20-30% at the workplace when compared to their male counterparts. This happens because although women are hired at the same wage rate as their male counterparts, they gradually fall behind as the pay increase they experience is at a rate much slower than what men usually get, thus compounding for multiple years at a workplace, they are paid less by almost 20-30% over the long-term.
In addition to this, Saumya highlighted how most women do not want a job given to them on the basis of adding diversity to the organization as it supersedes their merit. Hence, this sort of ‘Artificial Intervention’ from the organization doesn’t necessarily address the problem and may in some cases even worsens it. For Saumya, humans possess an unconscious bias that guides us to take shortcuts and schemas that help us make sense of the world, but they sometimes make us misinterpret scenarios – which may be the case when it comes to bridging the gender gap – and this is the area that the senior management needs to focus on in order the address the issue.
To provide an alternative, Saumya suggested three levels of change that need to take place: Individual, organizational, and societal. At the individual level, one needs to train the brain so that we automatically think that certain things can affect certain people’s feelings. Secondly, the unconscious incompetence needs to be changed, which is when people don’t know that they don’t know something, then the conscious competence where they know that they don’t know something and need to practice/learn, and finally the unconscious competence where they know what they know and take action.
At the organization level essential talent activities need to be organized which is critical for talent growth. There needs to be a better managed and inclusive talent system in place in order to promote inclusiveness, diversity, and openness to an organization. However, it is only at the societal level that an individual can feel fully included, not just artificially, and although it is the hardest and most time-consuming level to attain, it is also the most important as its effects are reciprocated within the organization.
The OSAC Meeting ended with chapter updates being provided by Col. Harendra Bana and summarizing the deep and insightful discussion that took place throughout the afternoon, and the importance of the senior management’s role and ensuring that the meeting bears fruit and that the Indian private industry can evolve to a global level and have the buzzwords each organization strives to achieve – diversity, openness, inclusiveness, etc. In addition to this, he stressed upon the dire urgency for all senior security professionals – such as the ones present – to take a leadership role at a societal level and make the security industry a glamorous career choice for individuals and not just an alternative.