NatWest Group has cracked the code on how to incorporate inclusive practices into the workplace and have done so exceptionally well. How did they do it?
On March 2, 2022, Great Place to Work Institute India hosted a webinar on “Celebrating Diversity – Beyond Women’s Day”, moderated by Jinal Jain, Senior Analyst Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Sandhya Ramesh (Head – Great Place Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Great Place to Work®️ India) in conversation with:
1) Saurabh Gupta (CFO and Finance Head – India; Leader Sponsor for Gender-Balance India Inclusion Council workstream, NatWest Group)
2) Liz Burton (Global Head – DEI, NatWest Group)
3) Padmavathy D Kothandaraman (Head of Engineering Transformation and Interim Head of Core Solutions Technology India; Disability Smart Lead – India Inclusion Council, NatWest Group)
Here are the main takeaways:
“The key is to look at each person as an individual” – Saurabh Gupta
We started off with Padmavathy elaborating on the prejudices faced by women in a field as male dominated as technology, where neither campus nor curriculum were designed keeping women in mind to begin with. In the workplace, managers would take career decisions for women, and leadership was seen differently in men and women. Saurabh added to this, saying men are seen as more competitive while women are seen as more empathetic and communicative. The key is to look at each person as an individual, which involves removing institutional bias. Doing so would require not just gender inclusive policies, but robust governance framework as well, to ensure effective execution.
In the context of female employees with disabilities, Padmavathy mentioned that while technology is certainly an enabler, its use in helping to bridge the disability gap is largely restricted to the formal sector.
Although organizations need to define what DEI means to their overall vision, Liz believes that DEI needs a balance between using hard metrics such as representation numbers and data-based solutions, and support via coaching and sensitization. This requires a mindset and behavioural change that must come from managers and leaders.
Some Best Practices that make NatWest truly inclusive
They also discussed a few inclusion practices that are currently in place at NatWest. These included the NatWest ‘Women at Work’ program, which aims at the reintegration of women into the workplace, and Choose to Challenge, which encourages people to make the effort to challenge day-to-day microaggressions. Although top-down efforts are important, they also emphasized how each one of us are responsible for the change to happen.
Commitment is everything
Overall, the three speakers believed in the organisation’s commitment to supporting its employees is the basis for an inclusive workplace. Creating a safe environment comes by showing allyship and advocating for change, and this environment would function much better than any retention policy. Padmavathy mentioned that any organization should have three foundational policies: an inclusion policy, a safety net policy or an employment break policy, and health and advisory policies. Designing strategies based in data, holding those around us accountable, and holding ourselves accountable is the way forward in making workplaces truly diverse, equitable and inclusive.
Our DEI experts will be eager to connect with you to outline how your organization can be on an intentional path to creating a Great Place to Work® FOR ALL.
Ishah Taimni is our Community Associate. She works with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. Her passion for Communications and Linguistics is only matched by her love for world history and new cultures.