ISB bridges the gap to #BreakTheBias

By Soumik Dey, Team Marcomm Mar 08, 2022

Young students to seasoned entrepreneurs, corporate leaders to grassroots entrepreneurs, ISB touches women's lives differently.

Ester Martinez, a Spaniard with a law degree and steady job, chose not to apply to any of the European B-schools. She was looking to learn not just about business management practices but also about a holistic approach to life. Gunjan Aggarwal was a high-flying chartered accountant with a global accounting firm when she decided she wanted to live one year for herself. And, Ritu Jain, now a rising star of the finance world, had joined as a talented student and mother of two from the agricultural belt of Madhya Pradesh. She attended ISB with her husband.

In the early years, these women were three of many from diverse backgrounds and with different aspirations who joined the Indian School of Business when no one knew what a new business school would be capable of. But today, they recognise that the Indian School of Business nurtured their aspirations and transformed them into 'pathmakers' or 'pathbreakers'.

With ISB, which started 20 years back as a belief that business is a force of good, the two campuses at Mohali and Hyderabad are replete with similar aspirations and fulfilment stories. The school's founders had the dream of creating an environment of diversity, and the sense of achievement is only growing even two decades later.

Today, ISB has one of the most gender-diverse classrooms among management schools and boasts a nearly 40 per cent representation of women in its one-year PGP course. For its founding class of 2001-02, there were initially just 16 per cent women students. The other courses like PGPMAX, MFAB and PGP PRO also boast a healthy percentage of women attending these courses. Today, women business leaders groomed at ISB are at the helm of affairs, either as accomplished entrepreneurs or as leaders in established organisations.

Among employees of the institution, too, there is a healthy 48 per cent representation of women in the ISB workforce. The environment at ISB is accepting to all and provide a healthy room for diversity to exist and thrive. Training and workshops apart, employees are also expected to routinely appear for tests on gender sensitisation and for developing healthy work practices.

The number of women-centric programmes at ISB is only growing. The Women in Leadership programme is one such example. This unique programme teaches women executives to address organisational hurdles, bias, and a challenging culture as they prepare to leap onto their leadership journeys.

ISB is a partner institution of Goldman Sachs's '10,000 Women' initiative to train 1350 underserved women entrepreneurs running their businesses, with turnovers ranging from INR 5 lacs to INR 75 lacs. The training was aimed to upscale their businesses by providing them business and management education and practical skills.

Family businesses have contributed a disproportionate amount to the GDP of India and the world. Recognising this, ISB had developed specialised programs for Women from business families, whose role, active or passive, is disregarded in the business. Today this program has aided family businesses to rediscover their women leaders who contribute significantly to being a catalyst for a lasting family business.

As startups receive tremendous acceptance and encouragement, India has already become a leader in this space. At ISB, special initiatives are undertaken to aid women entrepreneurs scale their startups. The I-Win or Women of Innovation initiative run by I-Ventures is an accelerator programme for budding entrepreneurs. The three-month programme, aimed at women founders and co-founders, provides training and an ideal platform to demonstrate their ideas and pitch to investors.

Noteworthy among the women-centric initiatives at ISB is the formation of a special interest group, 'ISB Women'. The alumni of ISB are one of its greatest assets, and they are nurtured by the institution long after they have graduated. This is why more than 3,000 women alumnae are part of this special-interest group today. They are regularly addressed by globally recognised leading women in business and women achievers from varied fields. Topics discussed at their hugely popular webinars, and closed-door events range from tips on breaking the glass ceiling, fighting biases at the workplace, work-life balance, and even some health and wellness advice. Find them on LinkedIn (link here) and join their exciting programs ahead.

To aid women to emerge as strong leaders, the Indian School of Business offers 50 per cent of its academic scholarships to women candidates. Headhunting for women executives from ISB has also become a habit for businesses that participate in campus placements every year. Noteworthy among these are Axis Bank, which runs the WE-LEAD (Women's Leadership Programme) at ISB, a prestigious program run selectively at Premier B-Schools within the country. It evaluates women talent with 4 – 8 years experience in banking and related business areas. The programme has been receiving a lot of traction at ISB over the years and is quite popular amongst women students.

Another prominent recruiter from ISB, Citibank, offers a Catalyst Program that hires women from even non-banking backgrounds. Auto manufacturer Ashok Leyland's women leadership programme recruits women for various job roles and is a well-regarded programme in the manufacturing sector for women.

"It is important to break the bias because everyone has a right to expect fair and inclusive organisations", says Dean Madan Pillutla.

The ISB team wishes every woman a very Happy Women's Day 🌷 Here is a small video to show the strength of ISB! Collectively we can & will #BreakTheBias.