Kapil Joshi

GCCs in Tier 2: Steering Women’s Progress in India’s Workforce

Kapil JoshiWith over 1,580 Global Capability Centers (GCCs) already dotting the landscape, the country is proving to be a fertile ground for growth, supported by robust government initiatives and an insatiable demand for cutting-edge technology. In many ways, the Indian IT industry is undergoing a paradigm shift, redefining what it means to be a global business hub today. Currently, GCCs contribute approximately 1% to India’s GDP and employ over 1.66 million professionals, highlighting their substantial impact on the economy.

These centers are equipped to handle complex processes critical to success and play a vital role across the value chain. According to a recent EY report, the domestic GCC market is projected to reach $110 billion by 2030, employing over 4 million professionals and housing more than 2,500 tech centers. India’s reputation for innovation continues to attract global firms to leverage the country’s R&D capabilities across various industries. However, two prominent trends can play out as the Indian GCC market grows. First, companies are setting up GCCs in Tier 2 cities, and second, gender diversity and inclusion are no longer buzzwords when it comes to Tier 2 cities.

The shift from metro cities to Tier II cities

While Tier 1 cities like Bangalore (42%) and Hyderabad (16%) continue to host a large chunk of GCCs, multinational corporations are increasingly turning their attention to Tier 2 cities. This shift is driven by the abundant talent pool, promising infrastructure, and appealing real estate opportunities in these smaller cities. By and large, it reflects the growing confidence global companies have in the potential of Tier 2 cities, even amidst global economic uncertainty. Furthermore, the post-pandemic demographic shift towards Tier 2 cities has fostered an ecosystem conducive to business operations, reducing the Total Cost of Operations (TCO). This inherent push towards location diversification among GCCs benefits companies and the workforce.

Building a More Equitable Tech Industry: GCCs’ Strive for Gender Diversity and Inclusion, with a Focus
on Tier 2 Cities

GCCs are leading the charge in promoting inclusion, with women’s participation standing impressively at 35%, surpassing the national average of approximately 21%. Additionally, GCCs represent 27% of the companies recognized as India’s Best Places to Work for women. Despite these strides, achieving gender parity, particularly in tech roles, remains a significant challenge, especially at middle and senior leadership levels where gender bias obstructs progress. Pay disparities, promotion hurdles, and retention issues further compound the challenge.

However, amidst these challenges lies a unique opportunity: the rise of GCCs in Tier 2 cities. With their promising talent pools and lower living costs, these centers offer a glimmer of hope for young women seeking fulfilling tech careers closer to home. Imagine a young woman in a Tier 2 city, brimming with potential but hesitant to migrate to a bustling metro like Bangalore due to financial constraints and family obligations. A Tier 2 GCC provides a bridge, allowing her to leverage her skills, access development programs, and build a rewarding career without leaving her support system behind. This shift holds immense potential.

Tier 2 cities like Lucknow, according to the India Skills Report 2024, excel in employability for the 22-25 age group, highlighting a treasure trove of young female talent waiting to be tapped. GCCs can unlock this potential and cultivate a diverse and empowered workforce by implementing targeted recruitment and development programs in these regions. The post-pandemic landscape further emphasizes the need to revamp workforce strategies with a focus on attracting and retaining women technologists. This requires prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as an ongoing commitment. Establishing clear long-term goals, holding leadership accountable, and incorporating diversity-related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Result Areas (KRAs) are crucial first steps.

Furthermore, initiatives must be tailored to address the specific needs of different age groups. Early development programs, flexible work arrangements, and targeted engagement strategies can nurture young talent. In contrast, mentorship programs and advocacy for interdisciplinary roles can empower women at all stages of their careers.

As India strives to reach a $5 trillion economy, the growing presence of Global Capability Centres (GCCs) in Tier 2 cities will significantly reshape the country’s IT landscape, notably by expanding the talent pool beyond traditional hubs like Bangalore and Pune. With a growing emphasis on inclusivity and gender diversity, GCCs will drive economic growth and empower women in the workforce. As these centers continue to expand and innovate, they have the opportunity to lead by example, setting new standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion in India’s tech industry. By investing in talent pipelines in Tier 2 cities, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and implementing targeted DEI initiatives, GCCs can become true catalysts for change.