This article narrates some of the things that we, at Axelerant, practice consciously to make it inclusive for women team members.
Things that got us the title of India’s Best Workplace For WomenTM by Great Place To Work® Institute (India).
Something like what Performance Coach Nanditha Krishnan shared about her joining experience at Axelerant.
“I’m a woman who got hired here at fifty years of age, right in the midst of COVID-19. This breaks a lot of stereotypes.”
I’m not a woman. And I won’t pretend to know what it feels like to be one.
That’s why, the words that matter, come directly from women team members at Axelerant.
So Yeah, We Got The Award
Every year, hundreds of organizations from multiple industries vie against each other to be called—a “great” workplace.
According to the 2023 Great Place To Work (GPTW) report, “At Best Workplaces, women make up an impressive 36% of the workforce, notably 17% higher.”
Companies can win this award in different categories, too.
How Was Axelerant Judged For This Award?
The process is straightforward.
You fill up a form about all the systems and practices in place that ensure a great workplace culture in your organization and submit it to GPTW.
They read the responses, then survey each team member. Anonymously.
And there’s also a bit where they call team members randomly and ask about their responses.
So the chances of lies creeping into the responses are pretty low.
Ultimately, they compare the results from all organizations nationwide, and award companies for investing time, effort, and resources to ensure a positive workplace culture.
Here Are Some Possible Reasons Why
You may be thinking by now: what’s so great about this organization that they bagged an award for it?
Some factors come to mind. But mind you, you may not see them as that great. Or noteworthy even.
However, some of our women team members have benefited significantly from having access to these practices.
Remote Work, The Great Equalizer
Hundred percent remote work means anybody can work from any corner of the world.
An increasingly rare phenomenon—even after the pandemic proved that people didn’t really need to come to a physical location to work together.
In some ways, hybrid workspaces are even worse.
Because it often creates a boundary between people working from the office and the home.
In pay, promotion, and opportunities, office workers get the upper hand.
And remote workers are mostly treated as second-class team members.
A 100% remote work opportunity levels the playing field. Nobody gets a brownie point for dragging their body to the office.
Sure, we realize that not everyone can work from home when working remotely.
That’s why we have the monthly co-working space allowance, so that women who need their personal space, away from familial commitments, can rent an office space.
They have the option to choose their workplace every day.
Flexibility To Work Whenever, Wherever
The work-life flexibility that our team members experience has been consistently voted as the top benefit at Axelerant.
We trust team members with the choice of planning and working according to their own time availability.
The work matters. When and how one does it is up to the individual.
It allows team members to divide their time between personal and professional commitments.
"My kids' school doesn't have a school bus. Because of flexible hours, I get to drop and pick up my kids from school and not fear relying on an unknown person," said Project Manager Merlyn Fernandes.
For team members who are mothers, being close to their children and watching them grow up is a blessing.
“As a mother of two kids, if I didn’t have the time to spend with my children, I would’ve not been happy and satisfied either as a professional or a parent. This work-life flexibility is what keeps me going, keeps me happy. I feel successful. And it wouldn’t have been possible without Axelerant,” Sivagami Vasudevan, Technical Workforce Manager, shared.
These answers confirm what the 2023 GPTW report discovered:
Working in a flexible working environment boosts long-term female team member commitment to work by a significant 15%.
Childcare Allowance To The Rescue
Raising children is as rewarding as it is challenging.
Hetal Mistry, Director of Global Delivery, found herself in a tough spot when schools shut down in the pandemic in 2021.
Her son needed her attention, and so did her husband after undergoing a serious medical procedure.
Between family and work commitments, Hetal was stretched thin.
"I raised a question about having a childcare allowance, and it was immediately brought into policy. I felt like a genuine need was heard and acted upon," she shared.
In fall 2021, Axelerant began assisting team members with childcare allowance to support parents and guardians with younger kids for daycare or caretaker expenses.
Delivery Operations Specialist Manjula Balnarayan said, "The child care allowance gave me that extra financial support to care for my toddler."
Caregiver Leave For Emergencies
Every team member enjoys 35 days off annually.
No sneaky conditions.
You can take Friday and the following Monday off; the weekends won't be counted as leave.
Clubbing sick and paid leave isn't a cardinal sin—because all off-days are equal.
And you can apply for them whenever and however you want.
Apart from these 35 days, there's something called Caregiver Leave.
It allows team members to take up to 10 days off annually to assist their dependents with medical conditions or a health event requiring emergency care.
Like emergency hospital admission, an unexpected illness, or last-minute care arrangements.
Dependents usually mean direct family members, like children, parents, adoptees, partner or spouse, and in-laws.
It’s embarrassing that we’re still discussing this in the 21st century.
But hey. . .reality.
The womenfolk of Iceland—from the prime minister to the homemaker–just went on a nationwide strike about it in 2023.
Women still don’t get paid equal to men for the same work.
We believe every person should be paid the same based on their work, not their gender. And that’s what we follow.
As a People Operations Manager, Vishakha Pinge is involved in Axelerant’s appraisals.
“I remember a leader proactively issued an equal salary raise to a team member on maternity leave, fully aware of her absence from work for the next eight months. It was a testament to our genuine commitment to equality,” she shared.
Impartial And Equal Growth Opportunity
Another crucial side to equality relates to growth opportunity.
“Women are not given special treatment here, like giving roses and chocolates on Women's Day, while conveniently deprioritizing their actual needs,” shared Hetal.
Certainly, growth opportunities mean more than one-off annual gifts.
It starts with being heard and respected.
“The respect I get as a woman team player, the gender equality that everyone talks about, is not superficial here. There has not been a single day or moment where I have been spoken to or treated differently,” shared Manjula.
And fostered through impartial investment in people’s growth; for instance, through the continuing education allowance that allows team members to take up paid courses and training for career growth and promotions.
Every person, regardless of their gender, must get equal opportunities to grow at work.
Uncompromising Support And Safety
Workplace safety comprises physical and psychological safety.
The 2023 GPTW report states: “Workplace politics and a welcoming environment have worsened for women.”
Physical safety is the bare minimum that every organization should invest in and ensure.
And there’s psychological safety, much harder to achieve.
Psychological safety comes right from the top—from the executives and managers.
And it doesn’t happen organically.
Leaders need human skills training to be able to create safe spaces within teams. And to know how to nurture and protect it.
Our performance coaches train Axelerant leaders through carefully crafted training courses for this very reason.
So that people feel safe to express themselves without fear.
Remote work guarantees the physical safety and comfort of working from home.
But it doesn’t mean we compromise on people’s safety during team offsites.
“In the past, I’ve had to travel at odd hours on official visits and stay in very unsafe environments. At Axelerant, I get to choose my timing. And the places identified for stay have always been safe. This is something I've really valued. As a woman, I value physical safety each day,” shared Performance Coach Shalini Neelakantan.
Hassle-Free Maternity Leave And Rejoining
Yes, we have maternity leave of up to six months, like many other companies.
What’s different is how we approach it, and how would-be mothers taking the leave experience their break.
A pregnancy is the beginning of something miraculous: a new life.
It’s the beginning of motherhood; a precious period for the team member and her family.
We give our best to ensure that work concerns don’t chip away at that preciousness.
And this intention influences our decisions for people yet to join us, too.
“I got hired here in my first trimester. Companies usually back away from hiring after learning about pregnancies,” said Vishakha Bharnuke, QA Analyst.
For a new mother, work flexibility becomes indispensable.
And that’s precisely what we try to ensure for a team member returning from maternity leave.
“I was allowed to work flexibly, and peacefully manage my toddler and work. Work-life balance comes so easy with Axelerant,” Vishakha shared.
Living Our Core Values Of Openness And Kindness
They help us reach decisions that are humane.
“I remember my final round of tech interviews with Shweta (Director of Quality Engineering). During my interview, my one-year-old started being cranky. Shweta considerately paused the interview and asked me to pacify my daughter first,” said Priyasi Singh, QA Analyst.
Decisions that are kind.
Our core values allow us to be open—trusting and treating people respectfully—when most wouldn't.
“I had a tough time dealing with recruiters when returning to work after a career break,” shared Sujatha Varadharajan, Senior Business Analyst.
In one of her interview experiences, the interviewer tossed Sujatha’s resume in the bin and asked her to leave after learning about the break.
“My Axelerant interview was dignified, straightforward, and non-intrusive. I was given a chance to prove myself without being summarily dismissed for taking a career break,” she said.
What Makes An Organization Truly “Great?”
Having systems in place that make peoples’ lives easier is absolutely needed.
But there are two factors even more essential to building a people-centric organization.
Intention and effort. These two constitute that huge gap between saying and doing, between superficial and life-changing.
And we aim to fill that gap with decisions and actions that empower women team members—and people of all genders and identities—to lead fulfilled lives.
We aren’t the ultimate, perfect example of a great workplace.
But every time we consciously choose to do right by our people, we are taking one step closer to greatness.
Rohit Ganguly, Content Marketer
Rohit is a content marketer first and a YouTuber second. He loves to interact with animals, feed them, clean his apartment, and spend time with friends and family. Curious by nature, he also enjoys literature, movies, meditation, and calligraphy.