“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
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.
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 Salesforce.com (#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 (Salesforce.com/Equality) 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 Arfa.Shaikh@greatplacetowork.com
Data Analysis for this article was supported by Ms. Twinkle Joshi – Senior Analyst.