Views from an industry expert on the specifics of D&I policies

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

WomenInBoardrooms

Views from an industry expert on the specifics of D&I policies

We see corporations increasingly adopting methods that would assist them to mitigate future shocks as the playbook of firms evolves by leaps and bounds. Firms have modified their strategies to become more creative and sustainable across all industries, as well as being more inclusive.

Today, we are in the midst of a watershed decade, in which organisations are swiftly advancing to become industry leaders by implementing major measures aimed at ensuring a gender-inclusive future. By adopting diversity and inclusion strategies, corporations are driving towards attracting the best and most agile talent. We caught up with a leading expert in driving strategic resource
optimization and rationalization initiatives through the organization. She has been instrumental in
business continuity by developing a talent management framework for her firm. Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer & Director – Business Concepts, Randstad, India, shared some unique perspectives on the evolution of D&I policies over time, as well as how her company has radically developed and thrived by establishing a more gender-inclusive future.

How have your D&I policies evolved over time?

At Randstad, we started with the philosophy of inclusion and not diversity. This enabled us to build our true self forward movement that empowers and enables every individual to embrace each other’s uniqueness and be their authentic selves. We are proud that our E,DI&B agenda and strategic goals reflect those of our colleagues, clients, talents, and society. From the start, our policies and practices were truly reflective of our mission and nimble enough to respond to the changing needs and circumstances of our diverse workforce. What has remained central to our agenda is the focus on mental health and the commitment to building an inclusive organization. We hope to remain future-focused, involve more and more diverse voices and perspectives in the policymaking process and be open to change with the evolving realities

What are some of the biggest challenges that your organization faced when it came to implementing D&I and creating a gender-diverse workforce?

It takes effort to bring in a change in mindset and culture and that’s true for every organization. EDI&B is not a quick fix solution or a destination, it is the evolving culture, process, and people. We were proud to have the active and visible allyship of our leaders and that was enthusiastically adopted by our employees.

It was particularly difficult to power this change during a pandemic with people not having opportunities to interact with each other. So you have to double down on your efforts to build the connections that are formed easier in in-person interactions. Also, we wanted to focus on building awareness and education on EDI&B and to enable that in a virtual format was an interesting challenge. We used mail campaigns with relevant/ pop culture references along with short workshops to build awareness on a variety of topics on EDI&B.

When it comes to women in the workplace, the pandemic showed the effect of disparity in ‘unpaid’ domestic responsibilities that women have to often shoulder in addition to their professional careers, especially working mothers. As a result, organizations experienced the ‘Great Resignation’ with many women quitting their jobs. We focused on offering more flexibility for our employees, with generous leave policies and an agenda of ‘be kind to the mind, body, and spirit’ – holistic wellbeing. To enable better work-life harmony, we must challenge gender-normative behavior and constructs and extend programs and policies that offer better flexibility for women and also encourage their partners, especially men to take on more domestic responsibilities.

As an organization, it was also important to appreciate the power of enough women representation across levels and job roles, especially women in leadership positions. That is why we wanted to ensure a diverse succession slate, for critical and leadership roles. We also realized that the entry to mid level career women in the organization needed more guidance and support to be able to aspire and progress on a fast-tracked career path. For this, we introduced a women mentoring program which enabled our talented women professionals to be mentored by our leadership team.

The challenges and opportunities for building and sustaining a gender-diverse and inclusive workforce would keep evolving with the changing realities and circumstances. As organizations, we must be forward-thinking in anticipating changes and providing purposeful solutions.

How can D&I become ingrained at all levels in your organization? What are some best practices?

As an organization, we have to start with the mindset of hyper-personalized inclusion – what can I do to make sure that each individual that experiences my organization – as an employee, client, talent, supplier, or community, what can I do to ensure that everyone feels welcomed, heard and valued, no matter who they are. This is achieved through visible allyship from leaders and a focus on implementing the right programs and policies that support a diverse workforce. In addition to hiring, developing, and promoting talents from diverse backgrounds, it is also important to ask for feedback and use those insights to make the relevant and meaningful decisions around the EDI&B roadmap. Raising awareness for allies and people managers is a crucial step in this journey. If there were to be distinct actions, they would be:

  1. making it essential: clear e,d&i strategy and how it is linked to the organization’s mission and values, and consistent, meaningful communication with the support of leaders and committed allies.
  2. making it ready & happen: giving people the right resources to learn, unlearn and challenge themselves to be better allies, resourcing it with the right tools, plans & commitment. Enabling allies and other colleagues, with the right guidance, to amplify the movement of inclusion & belonging
  3. making it last: reinforcement, reaffirmation & realignment in the journey – seeking feedback & using insights to drive meaningful change.
  4. it is crucial to also reflect and celebrate the small and big wins, together

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

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