Western Digital India: Empowering Women with Innovative Benefits and Focus

Kiranmai Pendyala ,Head of HRWomen have contributed significantly to the growth of the Indian economy. They have succeeded even in traditionally male dominated fields. Yet, they are grossly under represented in several fields of engineering, especially in the hardware relevant segments. Gender stereotypes and the engineering execution intense work culture have contributed to such a predicament. Western Digital India has made persistent efforts to reverse this trend. The company has, not only employed several women engineers but also empowered them with several women-friendly policies and work place practices. The company has provided a conducive atmosphere for women to advance their careers and be a part of the senior leadership of the company. It is no surprise that Western Digital India has been voted as the ‘Best Company to Work, for Women, 2022’.

Establishment and Growth of the Company
Western Digital India, the Indian arm of Western Digital, U.S.A. was established in 2016, with the global acquisition of SanDisk Technologies by Western Digital. Western Digital has also acquired Hitachi Global Storage Technologies(HGST), thus growing inorganically and significantly in the Indian landscape. The company has its offices in Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai, with Bengaluru hosting the R&D center. Western Digital India caters to the digital storage solutions and product needs of the SAARC countries. Beginning with 400 employees in 2016, Western Digital India has grown exponentially 500 % in the last 5 years! The company deals in state-of-the-art data storage equipment such as hard drives and memory cards.

Digital storage is a critical factor for the development and growth of technology. Western Digital India occupies a unique position in the sphere of digital storage solutions. The pandemic has created an unprecedented demand for digital products and entertainment solutions such as Over the Top Streaming(OTT). New OTT platforms, IoT-enabled and remote controlled products such as smart televisions and smart homes, advancements in healthcare technologies, growth of gigantic companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon have added to the demand for digital storage solutions, and we are now in the zetabyte age of data explosion all around us. Western Digital is uniquely positioned to leverage the opportunity with a breadth of products in HDD and Flash memory. While the chip shortage has resulted in a temporary slow down in production, the demand for the company’s digital storage products remains high.

Western Digital India is one of the acclaimed Fortune 150 companies in the field of digital storage solutions. The company has been recognized by NASSCOM for its innovative products. Worldwide the company owns nearly 14000 patents.

Key Managerial Personnel and Women-Friendly Policies of Western Digital India
Subind Kumar is the Vice President and Engineering Site leader. Dr. Kiranmai Pendyala is the Head of Human Resources leading the employee friendly policies. The leaders as part of the India Leadership Consortium focus their attention on strengthening employee friendly policies, gain deeper insights into the macro socio economic factors and build in inclusive work environment to create the “ONE HEART BEAT”, and make Western Digital India truly representative of the diversity in the DNA of our culture; geographical(North India, South India, West India, and East India), generational, gender, LGBTQ+, and Persons with disability.
In the context of women's representation in segments such as hardware engineering, it is relatively low due to various barriers socio cultural, stereotypes, perception of industry sector, etc. Engineering jobs call for extra hours of work because of the time consuming research and experimentation processes. Many a time, women find it difficult to manage their dual responsibilities. At Western Digital India, women enjoy a sensitized work environment that permits them to balance work life responsibilities, with ease. The company has adopted the dual career path policy to help women achieve their goals. Women employees can choose to grow as technical individual contributors or as management professionals, depending on their capability time availability, and career interest.

They can seamlessly move through laterally from one track to the other, based on their life stage and situation. The company has also provided the advantage of flexible working hours to employees, which is an advantage to women, who also in general, take on the care giver responsibilities at home. Women have been empowered to craft their career paths. This important step has nullified the limitations of the linear model and ensured gender equality. The company ensured that the careers of women employees were not affected even during periods of extreme stress, such as the pandemic.

This important step has nullified the limitations of the linear model and ensured gender equality. The company ensured that the careers of women employees were not affected even during periods of extreme stress, such as the pandemic

The pandemic forced companies to close down or adopt the ‘Work-from-home’ model. At Western Digital, mission critical employees kept the labs functioning while people with special requirements, such as the women employees, were provided the option to work from home or the office, as per their convenience. Post pandemic, the company intends to extend the benefit to employees with special needs or personal situations, including women, to manage challenging times such as during pregnancy and lactation.

Subind Kumar, Vice President, Engineering Site Leader
Taking the benefits further, the company has enlisted the services of medical specialists to treat and counsel women employees for their physical, psychological, and emotional challenges, and offering advice on child rearing and parenting techniques. Tutoring support is provided to the children of women employees online or offline at their residences. The company has created a focus group, led by women Diversity Champions, to identify and suggest ways to resolve problems faced by women employees. Annually, the “Allies” among managers and individual contributors. across the site are recognized and their support and contributions are shared to amplify and grow diversity and inclusion in the organization. The organization thus acts as a comprehensive support system for the women employees.

Women engineers are also part of ‘Women impact network (WIN), a global business resource group with members spread across several countries the U.S.A., U.K. Israel, South Korea, Japan, China, and Germany, which have larger and better equipped R&D facilities. The network mentors, and helps women learn from each other. This exclusive internal network spanning across the enterprise and multiple geographies helps women employees remain updated on the latest developments in engineering, technology, patent filing, and management skills.

Western Digital India considers it important to have multivariate diversity, with women playing an important role in the process. Diversity is key to innovation, it is a business imperative, and helps in creating an equal and equitable environment.Diversity and Innovation are the dual strengths of the company. Western Digital India is determined to continue its efforts to retain the organization’s reputation as an ideal company to work for.

The company’s repertoire of products is vital for the digital world. The focus of the leadership team on enabling a safe and inclusive culture for all its employees has created a highly motivated and focused workforce, as the growth of women engineers from a mere 11% five years’ ago to 22% currently. Western Digital India is poised for high growth!