Nishi Kulshreshtha Chaturvedi is the Vice President of Human Resources for India & Southwest Asia at Coca-Cola. She joined the company in 2012, in the Human Resources function of India BIG - Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd (HCCB); she then moved on to lead the Human & Workplace Rights across multiple KO geographies including INSWA, Middle East & Turkey. Nishi provided Strategic HR support with focus on execution of people strategy, talent development, mentoring and change management. She is passionate about DEI & Women in Leadership – and has led various Women Leadership Development & mentoring initiatives across the organisations.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Nishi shares critical strategies on driving women representation at the workplace and in leadership roles, balancing the needs of a multi-generational workforce and initiating sustainable DEI policies.
What are your top three DEI priorities for 2022?
As an organisation we have refreshed our global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy to reflect a greater global reach, broader impact, focus on equity with the incorporation of social justice and economic empowerment work. In India & Southwest Asia [INSWA] Operating Unit, Gender, Ability inclusion, Regional representation and Generational Talent are focus areas. We are intentional in our commitment to make a right difference with active engagement across our ecosystem of influence
We have made significant investment in driving our gender balance and some of the key initiatives we have undertaken include hiring from diverse candidate pools, training and sensitization of hiring managers & commitment from our Leadership Team to increase women representation in the workforce at large and in leadership roles.
We have launched our first series of initiatives to accelerate the momentum of developing Women Talent across the system and hierarchies through modules on self-leadership, leadership mindset, leading others, and influential & courageous conversations flanked with leadership dialogues on career, growth and life transitions.
A network of female employees across the organisation has also been created and is characterised by involving all women employees to come together to learn, collaborate, share their experiences, and support each other, with dedicated commitment from senior leadership.
Personalised Coaching support focused on specific development goals with a target to elicit insights and raise awareness; building confidence; empowering, developing capability, and enabling leaders to accomplish their goals has also been initiated.
Do you see a shift in outlook towards DEI from the right thing to do to a business imperative? What are your thoughts on making DEI more impactful across the business?
We believe cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is a priority that fuels greater creativity, innovation, and connection for our company and a sense of belonging for our employees. This is a holistic approach to organisational efficiency and organisational development which helps create a more meaningful work culture.
Organisations should approach DE&I with a people-oriented, collaborative human-centred mindset working towards transforming the organisation to be more growth-driven and inclusive of all. At Coca-Cola, we measure our progress from inside in and outside in perspectives and take active steps to progress on our public commitments. Leading from the front, in February 2022, globally we have pegged 10% our Executive Leadership’s Annual Incentive to our employee diversity, equity and inclusion goals.
With a multi-generational workforce working in a hybrid environment, how is your organisation enabling an ecosystem of empathy, inclusion, collaboration?
We have noticed strong preferences in what our multi-generational employees want and need at their workplace and are actively working towards revamping our employee value proposition. Consistent, timely and transparent communications are vital keys and a recent employee survey showed that the younger workers want boundaries on their time, especially in the hybrid era of working.
The employees recommended keeping meetings short and only with key members—a maximum of four people if possible. If a larger group is needed, send pre-reads so everyone is on the same page. The agenda must be to meet to make decisions, not to speculate. They also suggested ensuring there are breaks in meetings during the day, a proper lunch break and keeping work to workdays and work hours. To activate this survey feedback, we activated a group of Culture Ambassador Leaders to leverage their collective partnership in the overall inclusion journey.
Among the many elements of talent strategies that drew global attention in 2021, one key element was DEI. How is your organisation making DEI more sustainable in the everyday routine vs occasional awareness programs?
The improvement of the overall women representation across levels is a continuous journey and the organisation has come up with a mindfulness framework centred around 3Rs to foster the power of inclusion.
- Recognition: The practice of self-awareness
- Reflection: The practice of pausing to consider the options you have
- Response: The practice of responding with positive intent from a positive stance
The next phase of the journey is based on the company’s approach - when we make mistakes, we own them, put them right, learn from them, and grow. Hence as an organisation we will continue to raise the bar on diversity and refocus on the inclusion and move every function to a higher level of D&I maturity. We understand that these initiatives are essential for an organisation to sustain itself in the long run.
Our Human Rights Policy sets the framework for ensuring that our employees have safe, supportive, and respectful workplaces, where the dignity of every associate is recognized within our operations and in areas over which we have management control. It is every employee’s responsibility to foster a work environment that reflects respect for all and is free from all discrimination.
Finally, how can organisations steer clear of tokenism in their hiring and cultural transformation efforts?
Prioritising our talent is embedded in our process and guidelines. Hence, whenever an opportunity arises, we source talent internally first through our People Opportunity Program (POP) –an internal job ad platform that informs associates of all vacant positions they can apply for. Through the people systems, we have better visibility of talent and their readiness to take over greater roles and responsibilities in line with their aspirations.
Equal pay & opportunity principled approach augmented with a diverse interviewing panel with mandatory female members has enabled us to onboard more women while minimising the unconscious bias. Differentiated referral awards for women hires has incentivized our search partners to partner.
Talent selection, whether for external hires or internal movements, are assessed not only based on experience and expertise but also their behaviours and manifestations with our leadership definition of ‘Be the Role Model’; ‘Set the Agenda’ and ‘Help People Be Their Best Selves’.
We believe in setting a bold vision, breaking the bias, challenging the status quo and making the right difference across our ecosystem of influence.