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A Great Place to Work® FOR ALL: Innovation through Diverse Inclusion

When Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, stated that the Millennial mindset of preferring to use ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber instead of purchasing vehicles was one of the main reasons behind the worst slowdown that the Indian automobile sector has seen since the 1970s, what followed was an outburst from economists and millennials alike. However, the 2019 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study found that 51% of Gen Y and Z in India, who use ride-hailing apps, are questioning whether they should own a personal vehicle going forward. What this example illustrates, is the indisputable fact that consumer behavior is evolving over time and is certainly different for varied market demographics. If organizations do not have enough representation of these market segments within their own workforce, or do not know how to tap these employees, they are bound to lose out on correctly identifying customer needs as well as innovative ideas that could lead to breakthrough growth in these markets. Businesses today do not have the luxury of conventional methods as Henry Ford did in the 1900s when he said, “A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black.” Creating a diverse workforce and using their prowess and experience in co-creating products and services to cater to the diverse customer base is not just a politically correct move, but the only way to not go out of existence.

At Great Place to Work®, our mission of helping organizations create a Great Place to Work FOR ALL® does not end with hiring merely for diversity & inclusion. The second aspect of focus in this article series is what we call Innovation By All and For All. As per one of the Great Place to Work® research in the US, companies with high-trust workplace cultures see faster rates of success by inviting every employee into the innovation process. As per our research from the annual Best Companies to Work For in India Study, 2019; 85% of employees in Best workplaces feel that their management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas, while this number stands at only 73% for the rest of the organizations. In our study, in addition to the standard questionnaire, Great Place to Work® also ran a survey on ‘Culture of Innovation’. We assessed the Culture of innovation across 3 dimensions – Inspiration, Empowerment, and Culture.  When we deep-dive further, we find a huge disparity in the inclusion of all employees across demographics in the innovation and bottom-up collaboration process.

Best workplaces have taken some strides in bridging these gaps through initiatives that not only invite diverse groups to the party and ask them to dance, but also empower them to be a part of the organizing committee!


1. Bottom-up Collaboration Forums:

Siemens, for instance, has adopted the tagline – ‘Ingenuity for life’, and believes that innovative ideas are a part of its DNA. They run the Siemens Innovation Program in India which is a collaborative initiative that endeavors to bring together different minds and perspectives to create new possibilities across various disciplines and markets. The Collaborative Idea Platform enables employees to submit new ideas, vote, converse, engage and more. While Innovation day, Siemens Hackathons and Futureland are platforms to encourage idea sharing and bring innovation in the way they work and operate.

SAP Labs’SAP Blue’ allows employees to post their ideas and find colleagues who are interested in executing these technical or non-technical projects. Through their various forums such as ‘Changemakers’ – employee-driven ideation and decision-making platform envisage to crowdsource ideas from the employees and work collaboratively with the senior management to create the blueprint for employee engagement. Their Idea management tool’ enables employees to share ideas on a product or process innovation. The SAP Market Model and their SAP Retail Execution mobile app that enables consumer product manufacturers to enhance their sales execution with retailers anywhere and anytime are both products that emerged through the SAP Blue initiative. Similarly, Think Tank flagship event by Mahindra Finance serves as a platform for the high potential talent to resolve critical and strategic business challenges. Under the guidance of handpicked internal and external mentors, cross-functional teams work on real-time projects. The results are presented to the Steering Committee, post which the possibility of implementation is further explored.

2. Inclusion of varied perspectives in innovation:

Other than Mahindra’s renowned Shadow board initiative where the younger generations come together and work on current or forward-looking business challenges, Mahindra & Mahindra AFS also organizes MTalk which provides a TED-like platform for young talent to present their views, perspectives or ideas in a large group format. Idea Drive is also used to channel diverse ideas from across AFS to help get inputs from every possible cross-section of the employee base and create a policy that will have something for everyone. Over 60% of Intuit India comprises millennials.

They created the Next Gen Network (NGN), where the workforce of the present and the future come together to drive outcomes beyond their core roles; across themes like early careers, tech learning, mentorship and peer learning. The NGN charter revolves around technology, engagement, sports, and ‘We Care and Give Back’ activities. They organized the #In24Hrs Hackathon which was focused on designing for disability and powering the prosperity of small businesses in India through various Intuit products.



Generally, organizations try to initiate forums to encourage innovation from within their organization. Ericsson went one step ahead with their Girls who Innovate initiative. It is an ‘open challenge’ to school-going, young female innovators to imagine how technology can change the future of education. Students win job shadow days, an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Ericsson Careers blog and in social media features. The winners receive a large monetary prize as well, intended to be used for educational purposes. This initiative is a step towards enhancing the gender balance within the ICT industry and STEM studies as well as their commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Cisco doesn’t just bring their executives to its employees. They also bring their employees – and their opinions – to their executives. Every year, 400-plus Cisco leaders come together for an intense executive summit focused on defining company strategy for the next 12 months, identifying gaps and opportunities, reviewing talent strategy, and building teams. These Summits now also have diverse Employee panels entirely made up of Cisco employees from around the world. The purpose is to have an open, candid dialogue with Cisco executives about what’s working, what’s not working, what’s changed in the past year, and how the executive staff can take action to help.

Leading travel utility retailer, VIP involved not only a cross-functional group of VHippies but also their blue-collar employees through Project Unnati. The objective of this project was to identify various opportunities to bring about cost optimization within the organization. The entire ideation process was based on the Design Thinking model. As the funnel at each stage was much larger, the ratios of time, investment and resources in each step decreased, directly adding to the bottom-line of the company.  While People Combine, an Education Consulting & Management firm, runs an initiative called ‘Collaborative Planning Time’. Teachers have a collaborative planning time every Friday to discuss trans-disciplinary approaches to teaching across the grade levels. For example, biology, sports and mathematics teachers might come together to teach circulatory system through a sports demo where students play sports of different intensities and then use mathematics to plot their heart rate on graphs and then understand the reason for the difference in the pulse rates from a biological point of view. Bringing together this diversity in views culminates into an enriching experience for their end-customers, i.e. young students!

3. Resources and empowerment provided:

Titan’s Ignitor is a unique program launched in 2013 that aims to channel their employees’ entrepreneurial capabilities while reviving Titan’s start-up spirit. Employees submit business plans that could be taken up by Titan. The plans are evaluated for their business potential, fit with Titan’s vision, values and business plans, and the execution ability of the team involved. Identified teams get the resources and the freedom to execute their plans for a period of 12 weeks. The resources provided by Titan to the teams include Office space specially created for and by the teams, called Ignitor Labs, Seed Funding and also Mentoring by senior executives and external experts. During this period, individuals are released from their regular jobs to work on their chosen project, while receiving their remuneration. After 12 weeks, in case the project does not take off, they have the assurance of returning to their jobs. This provides assurance and eliminates any fear of failure. The initiative evoked a tremendous response and three proposals were finally selected of which Taneira, Titan’s newest venture is already 2 stores strong.

4. Recognition for Innovation and tolerance of failure:

Recognizing innovation and not penalizing honest mistakes is a critical aspect of fostering a culture of innovation. The Mahindra Innovation awards and Innovation Mela is a platform conceptualized to motivate employees by providing visibility to their innovative work. The Mela is a display of all innovation projects that reach Stage 3 of the Mahindra Innovation Awards as well as the Winner of the Failed Innovations category. It acts as a learning and reference platform for other employees and businesses. The display of failures also encourages risk-taking behavior among their employees.

Impact of Innovation by All

Helen Keller rightly said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

By focusing on Innovation By All, organizations are able to operate with greater agility, beat sales targets, and outperform the competition. A study by Great Place to Work® USA found that Companies that build an Innovation By All culture generate more high-quality ideas, realize greater speed in implementation, and achieve greater agility— resulting in 5.5 times the revenue growth of peers with a less inclusive approach to innovation.

As per Godrej Culture Lab’s ‘Trans Inclusion Manifesto’, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is costing India 1.7% in potential GDP (Approximately USD 32 Billion). There is also a significant loss in terms of brain drain due to talent migration of people from the LGBTQ community since most of the Indian organizations are not LGBTQ friendly yet. When Subaru, an American car manufacturer, hired Martina Navratilova, former tennis pro, who identifies herself as a lesbian, followed by a marketing campaign – ‘It’s not a choice, it’s the way we are built’ focus on the LGBTQ market segment, the brand emerged as the instant favorite in the target audience. Similarly, the P&G Vicks advertisement showcasing trans motherhood led to a spike in sales as well as international accolades for the brand.

Another example of the business impact achieved through the involvement of all employees in innovation and decision-making is the Quality Circles at Godrej Consumer Products. This simple initiative has given employees a platform to showcase their ideas and solutions to the management and has brought about a transformation across manufacturing locations. At Malanpur, for instance, more than 90% of their employees are part of Quality circles. A Total of 40+ QC’s working continuously on improvement projects has led to an annual saving of about INR 2 Crores. More than 40% of these projects have been showcased and won accolades at regional and national levels.

As per the India CEO Outlook 2019 report by KPMG, 67% of CEOs in India agree that acting with agility is the new currency of business if they want to remain relevant. In addition to investment in innovation processes, organizations are also putting in efforts to foster a culture of innovation, with 80% of CEOs in India wanting their employees to feel empowered to innovate, without worrying about negative consequences. We hope that the steps taken by these Best workplaces inspire many more of their peers to widen the scope of employee involvement and build a culture that fosters Innovation by ALL and For ALL and in turn leads to being Better for People, Better for Business and Better for the World. Start your journey on this path and Great Place to Work® will be delighted to support you through the way!


  • Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study, 2019
  • A Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian Workplace – Godrej Culture Lab
  • India CEO Outlook 2019 – KPMG

For comments on this article, or research collaborations with Great Place to Work® India, Kindly reach out at:


– Lead Author: Ms. Arfa Shaikh (Sr. Consultant),
Data Analysis: Ms. Twinkle Joshi (Sr. Analyst).

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We stand for creating a
Great Place to Work® FOR ALL

“In this organization, we have always welcomed everybody and never discriminated against anyone but never made a song and dance about it. It is only in recent times that it has become “trendy” to talk about Diversity & Inclusion”, said a business leaders of a large Indian Retail company during a conversation. When asked why the organization seemed to have poor gender diversity in mid to senior level positions, he was quick to retort, “We do a great job of hiring women at entry level positions, but most of them aren’t interested in building a career on account of marriage and motherhood”. Interestingly, while Women are their core customer demography, there just weren’t enough women in their design and strategy teams or at their stores to create products and sell to their key customer base. It’s little wonder why they seemed to be miles behind their other competitors in the same space.

When Sunder Pichai of Google says, “A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”, he is referring to the strategic importance of Diversity & Inclusion in creating a Culture of Innovation. The pursuit of creating a ‘Great Place to Work® FOR ALL’ is not just Better of People but Better for Business and Better for the World. At Great Place to Work®, we understand that an organisation can only be a great workplace if the environment of trust and inclusion touches every employee equally, irrespective of their gender, age, race/caste and position in the company. The ‘Great Place to Work® FOR ALL’ mission has also become an essential part of our methodology used to certify and rank Best Workplaces globally.  

In this 3 parts – article series, we will explore the critical aspects of creating an environment of Fairness and Inclusion: 


Ensuring Egalitarian & Fair treatment at work

Many organisations believe that being an Equal Opportunity employer means that they have made their contribution to the Diversity & Inclusion brigade. This is far from the truth. Organisations end up focusing on counting the numbers, rather than making the numbers count. After hiring employees from diverse backgrounds and demographics, are organisations able to foster an environment where diversity is celebrated, everyone has a voice and an opportunity to live up to their potential 

The annual studies conducted by Great Place to Work® Institute, consistently highlight that female employees seem to experience their workplace quite differently from their male counterparts in India. Gen Y has a lower positive perception as compared to the Gen X and those in below supervisory roles continue to have a significantly lower positive perception than those in managerial levels. This shows that we are a long way from our aspirations, though the good news is that Great workplaces have been able to bridge this gap to a large extent! 

In Support of Women 


While the Best workplaces have been able to engage 83% of their female employees, for the rest of the companies this number stands at only 71%. The aspects where women return the lowest positive perception as compared to their male counterparts are in fairness of pay, recognition, politicking and favouritism in promotions. The Best workplaces are putting great efforts to bridge this disparity. SAP Labs, the current No. 1 Best company to work for in India, runs Gender based Pay Analytics post their annual compensation review to ensure there is no gender bias in rewards and career progression. Cisco, another great workplace, considers pay parity as an ongoing commitment. They have developed an innovative analytical framework that enables them to test their compensation data and fix any gaps across gender and ethnicity, complemented by trainings on Unconscious Bias and equipping managers to hold Courageous Conversations. Ernst & Young ensures fairness in the performance assessment of women who were on maternity leave by conducting a detailed review of all such cases. 

Other than policies like giving out higher referral or recruitment bonus for recruiting women candidates, Best workplaces have taken steps to bring back women who have taken a career break. Programmes to offer support and flexibility to women during maternity leave, as well as offering opportunities like Godrej Industries Careers 2.0 have gone a long way in controlling the leaky pipeline of high potential performers & facilitate their re-entry into the corporate world. The Career 2.0 Program participants are offered attractive project stipends to work on live business projects on a flexi/part time basis. It intends to facilitate successful interns interested in transitioning to full time employment, through placement opportunities within the Group. The Godrej Culture Lab has also initiated many programmes to support the LGBTQ community. Best workplaces are also going beyond the standard benefits to support employees across genders, right from Bajaj Finance’s Preferential Transfer Policy for women who need to relocate post marriage/maternity to Ernst & Young’s ‘Break & Beyond’ practice of extending maternity coaching and transition support to mothers at EY at all three stages of Pre-Maternity, Maternity leave & re- integration and the return to work. 

Empowering the differently abled 

“I was born visually impaired. I had attended around 7 to 8 interviews. Unfortunately, the companies where I was selected through telephonic interview, rejected me when I met them in person. I was hired as part of the Intuit Ability program. In this place, I do not even remember that I am a visually impaired person. The screen reader helps me work easily. But everyone cares for my needs. When I used to order breakfast at the counters every day, my manger saw that I had to ask what was on the menu every day. So now I get a menu card in my inbox for the food available every day. They take care of all my simple needs as well. This job has given me my dignity back. Now everyone in my family respects me and asks me for my opinion. So do my friends.” 

– Chandrashekar R,
Sourcer, Talent Acquisition, Intuit India

When it comes to welcoming and integrating the differently abled in the workforce, Intuit’s Intuit Ability Program is a great attempt to create employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The organisation ensures that the interviews and job descriptions cater to them as well. The workplace is also equipped for people with sensory deficits. Mastercard initiated a programme called ADAPTability aimed at building a global support network for people with disabilities and their families, friends, and colleagues. They are also trying to foster a supportive culture that helps enhance the career prospects of people with disabilities by helping managers of differently abled employees to understand their motivation and the challenges they may face in their journey. 

Bridging the Generational Gap 

briding the generation

India is all set to be the youngest country in the world by 2020, with millennials comprising more than 50% of the workforce. While most studies in D&I are focussed on the gender and differently-abled, generational diversity is one component of D&I that does not get as much of the focussed efforts at the workplace, as compared to the heated exchanges commonly seen on social media wherein the Gen X voices their concerns about the younger generations, and vice-versa.  

Key drivers for engaging millennials includes career growth, which also emerge as areas where most companies have a significant disparity in experience at Gen X versus Gen Y, as per our study. 

Key drivers for engaging millennialsengaging millennials includes career growth

Along with age diversity, Great Place to Work® also assesses if an employee is treated as a full member irrespective of his/her position in the organisational hierarchy. The inclusion of contractual staff is also a burning need in this age, to ensure that the high trust culture reaches even the last person on the ground. 


SAP labs has tackled these concerns through practices like their Cross- Generational Speed Mentoring and Coaching that helps bridge the generational gap and help the younger talents understand their career and business at SAP. Speed mentoring is like speed dating where the early talents will meet two Development managers and one HR person to discuss and get three different perspectives on “My Career at SAP”. They also hold Gen-Myth workshops which bridge the gaps between generations by bringing together employees across multiple generations to break down the myths and subtle biases. Mahindra & Mahindra -AFS initiated the Shadow Boards where the younger generations come together and work on business challenges and present to the topmost leadership of the Mahindra Group. 

The impact of these initiatives that help create and sustain a Great Place to Work® For ALL is multi-fold. Other than the obvious positive impact on the culture of welcoming and celebrating diversity to drive higher employee engagement, the impact is also seen on business results.  A research by the Great Place to Work® US team reveals that those organizations that have built a Great Place to Work® FOR ALL outperform in the stock market and grow revenue 3x faster than their less-inclusive rivals. In India, we have examples like Lemon Tree Hotels that employs around 15% of its staff exclusively from the differently-abled segment of society. They have managed to use diversity to create a unique positioning for their brand. Operating in an industry like hospitality whose foundation is based on the moments of truth between the employee and the customer, championing the inclusion culture came with major challenges. The commitment of the management helped overcome the resistance and led to reduced attrition, improved productivity and delighted customers! 


In our annual workplace study in India, we have seen a year on year increase in allocation of people to the diversity agenda and non-discrimination agenda as well as institutionalizing of ethics hotlines to prevent and address discrimination. The year on year increase in investment in diversity-related programmes goes to show that organisations are seeing business benefits to their investments. At the Great Place to Work® FOR ALL conference held in the US, Tony Prophet, the first Chief Equality Officer at (#1 World’s Best Company to Work 2018) shared about the culture of equality they are building be it gender, LGBTQ, racial, national origin, or religious equality. On their company website ( they showcase actions they take across their core pillars of equality (equal pay, equal opportunity, equal education, equal rights), employee resource groups (Ohana groups), as well as metrics on their  equality footprint, research on the impact of equality and values on business, and tips on how to become an equality ally. On the site, they feature their demographic numbers including gender and ethnicity, to ensure accountability in their mission. 

The great part about our mission of helping organisations create a Great Place to Work® FOR ALL is that it does not limit itself to being just Better for the People and Better for the Business but goes a step beyond to be Better for the World as well. Organizational efforts have a ripple effect to creating a larger community impact by including the segments of our society that have faced discrimination in the past and let them know that they have an equal place in the world, and nothing can get in their way of being their best self. 

The Lead Author of this article is Ms. Arfa Shaikh – Senior Consultant at Great Place to Work® India. You can write to her with your comments or feedback at 

Data Analysis for this article was supported by Ms. Twinkle Joshi – Senior Analyst. 

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The Challenge of Creating Great Workplaces – Today & Tomorrow

Challenge of creating great workplaces till now:

Very few of us realise that the workplace culture that we have is a product of the culture of the society we are a part of. If venerable CEOs & Chairmen of many large traditional Organizations act like traditional patriarchs, it is because they are products of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a societal system where men hold power, and respect for authority is paramount and authority is correlated with seniority.

What makes patriarchal cultures work? The key driver of a patriarchal culture is power. Power demands control.

People give their lives to their organizations so that in return they can wield more power: A bigger office, authority to sign bigger contracts, cancel leaves of others, reserve a suite permanently in a hotel, a private jet even. And when you become the patriarch you wield absolute power. Your picture will be put up in many of your offices, books will be written on you, buildings will be named after you. And of course, money will never be a constraint. You have earned it the hard way. Not spending time with your family, not seeing your children grow up, not having trusting relationships with people who do not come to you for access to your power and often not taking care of your health – these are but small prices to pay for the power you wield.

It is as if you are high on some addictive substance; except in this case power is the cocaine to your system! Power, not technology, drove the biggest gamification of workplace culture in the past. If you are a large legacy organization, the chances are that the top 5 per cent of your senior managers are still addicted to the power game. But it is working less and less with the bottom 70 per cent of the people – the Gen Y and the millennials.

Patriarchy is not working in producing sustained business results. You want proof? If your senior management is in a patriarchal mindset, compare your shareholder returns over the last ten years with the overall share market growth. Unless you are in a niche area, a monopoly and not dependent on talent, you are at best keeping pace with the share market. The best workplaces are delivering 4 to 5 times higher returns than the standard Sensex, Russel 3000 or S&P 500 baskets.

Why is Patriarchy dying?

Over the last two decades or so we have seen some significant developments. Chief among them are the explosive growth of smart phones and mobile data consumption, social media and access to information, use of technology for machine learning and artificial intelligence (Internet of Things). Women now routinely outnumber men, not only in traditional courses like nursing and BEd, but also in MA, MSc and MCom (Masters in Arts, Science and Commerce).

The middle class and higher middle class have seen a significant increase in terms of real purchasing power -and gradually the percentage of people in extreme poverty (earning less than 2 USD a day) is coming down.

Power being a zero-sum game cannot increase or decrease in absolute terms. Power is shifting from the Organizations and their representatives (the managers) to talent. While job creation has not gone up significantly, thanks to technology, demand is at an all-time high for digital native artisans. A digital native artisan is not only comfortable with digital technologies but knows how to use it to fulfil a market need.

None of the current day educational institutes produce digital native artisans. At best they can produce talent who are tech-savvy and understand current business models of the kind Amazon, Netflix, Uber or Airbnb has. Digital Native Artisan or a DNA is more than skills – it is about an attitude of continuous learning and unlearning.

Moreover, the biggest change in workplace culture in the present is the realisation that to attract and retain talent you will have to do exactly what you do to attract and retain customers.

I call it a mindset of Employee = Customer.

Take the example of a Retail Company which has hundreds of distributors, who deliver to thousands of outlets that will in turn deliver to the end customers. Who is the customer in this case? The company knows that it must track the final customer (popularly called as a customer segment of N=1) but is equally focussed on the experience of the distributors and retail outlets – both of whom are important parts of the value chain.

An Oyo Rooms will be an example of such a Company. Recent examples of discontent among the partners in the value chain for Uber, Ola, MakeMyTrip (GoIbibo) and many others show that engagement and trust with partners is very important. However, if you really think about it, the value chain does not start outside the legal boundaries of the Organization. Value is created by its own employees first.

An Organization whose mindset is to squeeze partners in the external value chain will most likely also do the same with people in the internal value chain. An Uber does not recognise its drivers as employees, even though it controls many significant aspects of what the driver can do (but not how much time he must work).

Does your Organization view its people as “cost”? Or do they see them as revenue? For example, if a sales person does 10 million INR of sales and his/her salary is 1 million INR, is he/she viewed as 1 million INR in cost or as a 9 million INR net revenue customer? The same can be extrapolated for a team that includes people from all functions like Accounts, HR, Administration – all of whom are required to deliver to the customer. Is this entire team being looked upon as a cost or as net revenue?

How is the mindset of Employee = Customer demonstrated? Some of the key features of a great place to work today are as follows:

  1. Employee experience is as important as customer experience. Employees are important not just because they are loyal and productive, but also because of the impact they have on the employer brand. These Organizations realise that just like customers, employees can be promoters or detractors too.
  2. Managers at all levels meet their team members, actively listen to them and are perceived to be both approachable and capable of giving straight answers.
  3. Employees are dealt with as individuals by managers and while everyone aspires for purpose, autonomy and mastery, managers know that they need to teach, coach, support or delegate depending on where the employee is in a competence versus commitment matrix.

There is always a gap between what we perceive to be a superior experience and how it is perceived by the recipient. As quoted in Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company in a survey of 362 companies, found that while 80 per cent of the companies believe that the customer experience they provide is superior, only 8 per cent of the customers described their experience as superior.

Engaging your people may be easier than delighting your customer. However, not without the mindset of Employee = Customer.

Challenge of creating great workplaces in future:

The future brings its own challenges. The key challenges to my mind for the best workplaces will be the following:

  1. Getting your business model right – No matter which business you are in, right now someone is trying to disrupt your business. Gone are the days of one business model working for long periods of time. If you are struggling with getting your business model right, you will find it difficult to be a great place to work.
  2. Transparency & Feedback – SAP Labs India is a great place to work. They have an interesting practice called “speed-mentoring” where mentoring happens in 15 minutes! Like anything that SAP Labs do, they take feedback on the mentors. Currently, they are running at a 95 per cent advocacy rating i.e. 95 per cent of their people who have experienced this form of mentoring will recommend it to their friends. Even great workplaces like J&J and Unilever are struggling to manage their brands in an age where one incident can get magnified and communicated everywhere in no time at all.
  3. 24 by 7 Leadership – Transparency also means gone are the days when leaders could say the right things at the right time to the right people. Today you have to say the right things, all the time, to all people! Saying & Doing what you say has always been a leadership trait. Today, a leader must “live” what he says 24 by 7. “Can I not be myself at work?” asked a CEO with some exasperation. “You can be your best self at work,” was my answer. Leadership has become a spiritual journey of self-development. Those who came to positions of leadership only due to the lure of power and money will fall by the way side. I know of a CEO who commissioned a feedback survey and is simply too scared to disclose the results to his colleagues! Sadly, for him, his colleagues do not need a feedback report, they know! Remember, you can stop your HR function from taking feedback from employees, or edit uncomfortable areas in the feedback tool, but you cannot stop people from posting their experience in social media.
  4. Great Place to Work for ALL – Best workplaces like Salesforce are taking a stand. One of their core values is Equality. Salesforce does not just limit themselves to equality within their organization. When it comes to Equal Opportunity, Equal Rights, Equal pay and Equal access to education, Salesforce will mobilise public opinion, lobby and do what it can to create an equal world. The Great Workplaces of future will use their high trust-high performance™ workplace cultures to bring about a faster social change.

To create a great place to work for ALL we will have to reach to the last basic unit which impacts employee experience – the manager! If you are a senior executive today concerned with protecting your employer brand, you may have missed the fact that people are already talking about you, not just your Organization. Are you a great people manager? This information will be soon available to ALL.

— Prasenjit Bhattacharya
CEO, Great Place to Work® India

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A Great Place to Work For All: How the Best Workplaces in Asia are Leading the Way

This month, we at Great Place to Work are honored to announce the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia. From a pool of nearly 1200 organizations in the region, we listened to voices representing over 2 million employees’ experiences, to understand what it’s like to work at these companies.

And, we identified 75 companies who are leading the way in creating workplaces that are great not just for some—but great for all. Top winners on this year’s list include multinational shipping behemoth DHL, online streaming service Hulu, UAE retailer THE One, and multinational hospitality giant Hilton, to name a few.

The winning companies span all sizes, ranging from 500,000-employee DHL, to small-but-mighty Galton Voysey, a consumer goods branding company with just 20 employees. They represent 17 different industries, hailing from eight diverse countries and cultures: India, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Greater China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

Industry Distribution of the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia

Seventeen different industries are represented on the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia list. Information Technology, Financial Services & Insurance, and Manufacturing & Production industries represent nearly half of all companies.

Country Representation for the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia

The 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia represent eight different countries in the region.

Yet, despite these notable differences, these organizations have one thing in common: they have created workplaces where the vast majority of employees experience a Great Place to Work– regardless of who they are, or what they do for the organization. In other words, they experience a Great Place to Work For All.

Specifically, approximately 9 in every 10 employees report they are treated fairly regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. And to the same extent, employees believe they are treated as a full member regardless of their position at the company.

Over 90% of employees also experience a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, and believe their leaders consistently act with integrity.

The Best Workplaces in Asia are Highly Inclusive

At the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia, 9 out of 10 employees experience a welcoming, ethical and inclusive workplace.

These components, among other qualities seen among Asia’s Best Workplaces, bring to light important elements of a workplace where all people can bring their best to work each day.

Great for People, Great for Business

Why is it important to create a Great Place to Work For All?

Our research shows treating all employees as equally-valued members is not just great for the people who work there—it’s great for business, too.

For example, companies that maximize all employees’ human potential regardless of their gender, race, age, and other personal characteristics achieve three times the revenue growth than companies that are less inclusive.

Maximizing the Potential of All Demographic Groups Leads to Faster Revenue Growth

And, companies that harness the great thinking and creative ideas from all employees (rather than only select groups) achieve greater levels of innovation and five-and-a-half times the revenue growth.

Including All Employees in the Innovation Process Drives Revenue Growth

Companies that invite more employees to participate in the innovation process achieve 5.5x the revenue growth as compared to less-inclusive counterparts.

We see this “Innovation By All” culture at the #4 Best Large Workplace in Asia, India’s Godrej Consumer Products. To create a culture of free-thinking for employees to innovate, Godrej launched the Godrej India Culture Lab—a physical space that acts as a catalyst for creating conversations around powerful thoughts of employees.

Sunil Kataria, Godrej’s CEO, India & SAARC, told us: “There are many benefits of creating a great workplace for the future…We believe to be able to win today, we need to foster a much more inclusive mindset, not just in a select few people, but across teams.”

Better for the World

As Great Places to Work For All uplift businesses and the people who work there, the world at large benefits as well. We see this at DHL, the #1 Best Multinational Workplace in Asia, where each year DHL Express CEO John Pearson, Executive Vice President HR Global Regine Buettner, along with other top leaders fly to the region to celebrate DHL’s Employees of the Year (EOY). Over a three-day period, leaders personally recognize each and every EOY not only for their remarkable work achievements but also for their charitable efforts that create a better world. Co-workers spend time during these three days team building while innovatively fundraising for three different charities.

The Best Workplaces in Asia are Great for Women

A key finding across Asia’s Best Workplaces is they create an empowering atmosphere for women. In fact, female employees at these companies report a slightly more positive experience at work than men, on average.

At Cisco, the #2 Best MNC in Asia, two of the four senior-most leaders in the region are women. And, Cisco’s commitment to the ongoing development of female leaders helps ensure women continue rising to the top ranks.

As an example, the DARE (Development, Authenticity, Readiness and Excellence) Program offers a one-day workshop for early-in-career women on topics such as visibility, internal politics and positive branding. And, mid-level female leaders can attend “JUMP for Women,” a nine-month program with workshops focusing on leadership development, networking, execution and more.

Leading the Way with Strong Values

Building a Great Place to Work For All starts with strong values that come from the top, that all employees live by. These values are not just words on a wall; rather, they are a guiding force that creates a sense of consistency across the organization.

Our data shows employees at Asia’s Best Workplaces are approximately 15% more likely than non-ranking companies to trust what leaders say—which is a key indicator of organizations where leaders put values first.

Leading with Integrity at the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia

Employees at the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia are far more likely than their non-ranking counterparts to trust what leaders say.

As Patrick Fiat, Chief Experience Officer of Asia’s #2 Best Small and Medium Company Royal Plaza on Scotts (RPTM) in Singapore shared, “We continue to create a great workplace in the Spirit of RP, the epitome of our core values: trust, respect, empowerment, making a difference and loads of fun at work.”

With strong values and highly inclusive organizations, the 2019 Best Workplaces in Asia are leading the way in creating Great Places to Work For All. We congratulate these companies for their global leadership in building outstanding workplaces that are better for business, better for people, and better for the world.

— Michael C. Bush
CEO, Great Place to Work®

Build a High-Trust, High-Performance CulturesTM

Best Workplaces

Great Place to Work® FOR ALL

“Diversity is being invited to the party.
Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
-Verna Meyers

Resonating with the above adage and summing up the sentiment behind employee inclusion at the workplace is the concept of Great Place to Work® For All. A concept where the lines between hierarchy blur and acceptance meet.

At the heart of it, Great Place to Work® For All is a Vision. A vision to embrace diversity, nurture all-inclusiveness and foster one-ness amongst every employee at a workplace. A vision to create a consistently positive experience for all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization.

In the India Development Report, released by the World Bank, India ranked low — 120th among 131 nations — for female participation in the workforce. Currently, women constitute about 48.5 % of the population. However, the participation rate for women in the labor force is only 24%.

A recent survey conducted by Great Place to Work® Institute, highlights that female employees continue to give poor feedback about their workplace when compared to their male counterparts. Their top five areas of concern are workplace politics, lack of fair compensation for the work they do, lack of equal opportunity for recognition, not feeling that they are making a difference in their organization, and biased treatment by managers.

The sorry state of the PWD employees is also calling for immediate action. Drawing inputs from the Census Study conducted in 2011,even though disabled people constitute a significant 5 to 6 percentage of the population of India, their needs for meaningful employment largely remain unmet. The bleak scenario is of the approximately 70 million persons with disabilities in India, only about 0.1 million have succeeded in getting employment in the industries till now.

But why is the aspect of diversity and inclusion suddenly in the limelight? Truth be told, it has always been an integral part of organizational growth, however, organizations are suddenly waking up to the wonders of cultivating a more inclusive workplace and integrating relevant initiatives into their mainstream agendas.

The dawn of the 21st century has opened its arms to embrace diversity. Higher levels of transparency, crumbling down of the patriarchal mindset, exposure to information has provided a strong impetus to the strengthening of diverse workplace culture. Inclusion is not merely talked about, it is documented, tracked, communicated and celebrated.

Organizations across the globe, riding on the inclusion wave have proved to be a testament to the wonders of a diverse workforce. Lemon Tree Hotels, one of the largest and most popular hotel chains, made it their mission to tap this unnoticed talent pool by creating a socially inclusive environment at their hotels by hiring and skilling differently abled individuals as a way to integrate them into the mainstream.

In their words, this unique approach is not charity, it is their business model. Today Lemon Tree employs 550 disabled workers — mostly hearing- and speech-impaired but also wheelchair users and amputees. Together they account for 12 percent of the chain’s 4,600-strong workforce. Their spellbinding act of social inclusion has delivered superior business results, reduced attrition rates and significantly increased efficiency amongst the employees.

While some organizations are championing the cause of including the differently abled as a part of their workforce, some of them are taking massive strides to bridge the gender gap, one of the most talked about, but the least actioned upon area. Ajuba Solutions is one such example. Currently, 49% of Ajuba’s workforce comprises women, which is one of the highest in the industry. To promote gender diversity within their organization, they have created a Women’s Forum called “Shakti” which is a cross-functional team of and for women. Nurturing the lesser represented gender and providing them the springboard for growth, development, and success is surely a commendable act of inclusion.

While we extol the initiatives taken to create a diverse workplace, the underpinning idea is to ensure that inclusion and diversity become synonymous to an organizational culture rather than being an element of uniqueness.

Sounds like an uphill task to accomplish? Fret not, we have a roadmap charted for you :

Great Place To Work® For All envisions a workplace culture with a consistent experience for all their employees. Our methodology focuses on narrowing disparity, cherishing the vision to create a diverse workplace culture and embracing inclusion. After all, where shackles of biases and exclusions break free; agility, cooperation and success follow.

— Janhavi Mehta
Sr. Analyst,
Great Place to Work® India

Build a High-Trust, High-Performance CulturesTM