Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

The oil and gas sector is experiencing enormous turmoil as a result of shifting oil prices, unstable geopolitical conditions, and changes in the regulatory environment.
Additionally, as digitalization takes root, the energy sector is beginning to feel the effects of an ageing workforce, a rising skills gap, and a talent scarcity.

Archana Yemeshvary Ashok Upadhyay, Chief Manager – HR ( HR & Organisation Development Work), HPCL explains how the oil and gas major has evolved with the disruption, and the stronger focus on diversity and inclusion.

Q: What are some need-gaps that you have identified when it comes to retaining your women employees?

A: Creating gender equality in the workplace starts with your recruitment process and compensation policies. Historically, males have dominated the oil, gas and energy sector yet HPCL has around 10% women employees out of their total manpower strength. The company is proud that many of women employees are highly qualified engineers and management professionals. This is an outcome of a Fair and Transparent recruitment policy and process. The compensation policy at HPCL is also Gender Neutral.


As more & more women join the force, there will be Gaps in the work place itself. We are continuously making the work place equitable specially with respect to infrastructure /safety aspects. For example, if women are working in night shifts at various marketing locations and at our refineries then Safety & Security, change in infrastructural arrangements, well-being measures and transportation facility are some of the points which were addressed. Similarly, accurate and inclusive Job description, where Women do not feel isolated right at the start. Promotion procedures allow hard working women to move up the corporate ladder. It is also important for companies to track, measure and hold managers accountable for diversity and inclusion efforts.

Q: What role has technology played in opening up avenues for diversity and inclusion?

A: Technology has played a very important role in opening up avenues for diversity and inclusion. First of all, there all more & more girls completing the professional degrees. The talent acquisition process gives wider opportunities on both sides due to technological improvement.


Organizations with a diverse staff and an inclusive workplace culture are more successful and better equipped for the future. A diverse work force brings new ideas leading to innovations, provides competitive edge, less conflicts, better harmony, high quality & satisfied work force.

Q: Could you highlight some of the D&I initiatives undertaken by your organization?

A: Some of the D&I initiatives undertaken by HPCL


  • An organization wide platform created for Women officers, christened as “SWAYAM” emphasizing on the need for self –reliance for progress and is aimed to be a dynamic and responsive platform for all Women Officers in HPCL. The objective as reflected in its tagline “Engage-Inspire-Lead” is to inspire women of HPCL across the country to take charge of their destiny, break out of self-imposed shackles and strive towards an extraordinary future. The platform seeks to enhance networking, engaging, supporting and mentoring one another for providing a sustainable impetus to the talent pool and subsequently to the women leadership pipeline of the organization. Various initiatives are being taken under the umbrella of SWAYAM.
  • PARAMARSH is a Counselling program available to employees to “Consult in Confidence


  • SPARSH is a Healthy Maternity Program which offers free of cost, psychological coaching service for female employees and spouses of male employees. The initiative contributed in enhancing the wellness of working mothers’ by offering psychological counselling service and self-help resources towards integrating motherhood with worklife. Officers and their spouses are availing the maternity counselling services under Sparsh initiative.


  • Special Leave Policies:

Corporation has also implemented special leave policies for employees apart from Maternity Leave Policy like Child Care Leave, Adoption Leave, Surrogacy Leave, Special Day Off (SDO) during Menstrual Period.


  • Settling Period:

When the women officer, working in round the clock shift duties, is in the family way (since conception of the child), she shall be put on ‘Non Rotational Shift Duty’ and be assigned in day shift only. This thoughtfully designed policy ensures that when a women officer resumes duty after maternity leave and /or child care leave, she shall be assigned duties in the day shift only for a period of one year. In the following year, she shall be assigned in morning shift and evening shift only. This two-year period is considered as ‘Settling Period’ for her.


  • Sashakt:

सशक्त is an initiative towards women empowerment whereby a series of training and interaction sessions by senior women professionals are organized for women officers and budding women leaders.


  • Mentoring Program for Women

It is a well-crafted nine month program which included group mentoring by experts as well as one on one mentoring. Senior women as well as men leaders in the organization mentor the junior women officers in the professional journey at HPCL.



Lady officers are being trained in self-defence including Martial Arts through the initiative – Kavach at select locations


  • POSH:

HPCL as an organisation has taken up POSH programs on war footing. Every year, workshops are conducted for all members of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) across the Corporation to help them in understanding their roles and responsibilities


  • SCOPE ILO Change Agents:

As part of the initiative of International Labor Organization(ILO) under aegis of SCOPE for encouraging woman participation in workforce and building enabling environment for their career advancement, HPCL has committed two senior level officers to contribute to this initiative.


  • Awards & Accolades:

At various forums, within the Corporation and outside, the achievements of Women at HPCL have been recognised and rewarded.


  • Capability Building:


Women officers are actively nominated for attending number of workshops and Online training programs on developing women leadership, well-being and empowerment.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members