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NRI Indra Nooyi - First Woman of Colour
Friday, February 09, 2007

Chennai born Indra Nooyi has been assigned the responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer of world’s second largest soft drink maker, PEPSICo. US media has honored her as the first woman of colour to head a Fortune 100 company.  She has also been named the by Fortune magazine, ahead of illustrious names like Oprah Winfrey and eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

There are just 11 Fortune 500 companies which have female CEOs, only two of whom-including Nooyi-are women of colour.

When the company announced Nooyi to become the next CEO, the news spurtly came into limelight thereby making headlines of newspapers. As per the data showcased by Catalyst, a non profit research and advocacy group, women hold just 16.4 percent of corporate officer positions in US, up 0.7 percentage points from 2002.

Indra Nooyi - Pepsi Co. CEO

The hard work of Nooyi came before when PepsiCo. Decided to see the progress of women of colours in the company. Interestingly, turnover among women turned out to be high as compared to that among other groups. As a part of the same research, the company interviewed women of colour who had been in the senior positions but left. The research investigating the cause of dissatisfaction among women of colours came up with with the result that women didn’t think they had the same relationship with managers as their colleagues did. 

This encouraged PepsiCo. to begin a program to develop a better understanding among women of colours and their managers. Thereafter, a third-party facilitator met the woman and her manager separately and discussed about their professional relationship, investigating whether they share same vision towards achieving the targets and what their targets are.

Then, the three of them created a written plan. They take up the processes again for the time span of three to six months, this time with the boss's boss as well, and made assessments how they did with their plan.

In 2001, 72 of the company's 1,806 holding senior positions were women of colour, and the number shoot up to 144 out of 2,165 at the end of the year 2006. Surprisingly, this caused a drastic effect on the turnover which slipped down by double digits, and the retention gap is almost indiscernible.



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