Creating a 'Gender Intelligent' Organization: Jyoti Rai
For creating a "gender intelligent" organization, gender focus is more than being about "women only" programs or products
As our CEO Ken Chennault emphasizes, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at American Express is fundamental to our vision of becoming the most admired service brand in the world, by creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed and respected. The fact that over 60 percent of overall AXP workforce and 40 percent of our workforce in India are women is a strong indicator of the organization being one of the industry leaders in attracting and retaining women. So, gender inclusion to us is about creating a level playing field for both men and women, so that meritocracy can shine. This will be possible when we are able to fully appreciate the uniqueness that women bring in and support them through leadership as well as an eco-system that enables them to realize their full potential.
For creating a "gender intelligent" organization, gender focus is more than being about "women only" programs or products. We have rolled out "gender intelligence"; workshops globally, and more specifically, "Gen- Square" workshops in India, to enable greater inter-gender understanding and addressing unconscious biases. Focus on enabling flexibility at workplace through "BlueWork", "Women Interest Network" (WIN) chapters across most of our major markets and programs that support women’s career progression, are some of the focused initiatives launched to enable greater gender balance.
Research indicates that "the sponsor effect" on employee career progression plays out very differently for men and women - while women tend to be over mentored; but under sponsored, women also tend to have a single sponsor while men have many. Through sponsor effect workshops, we are bringing the impact of sponsorship to our conscious level of awareness as well as creating a common language around it. We have also rolled out a progression program, "pathways to sponsorship"; for our senior women leaders that looks at women's progression challenges in a "gender intelligent"; and tangible results focused way. This program brings in leaders of senior women employees as "co-travelers" in the journey, thus personifying an inclusive and forward looking mindset.
The idea is to look at women as equal economic drivers. We ensure our external communication, to current and potential employees as well as customers, is "gender intelligent"; and support empowerment of women at large, through engagement with women entrepreneurs. Through initiatives such as the "Power of Inclusion" Summit that we did in April this year, we will be able to champion the dialogue on diversity in India, thus making our organizations inclusive in the true sense.
Jyoti A Rai, Head HR India, American Express