“Barriers to DEI need to be patiently and effectively tackled”
R AnandaKrishnan is the President – Human Resources and Information Technology at TVS Motor Company.
In his current role, AnandaKrishnan is responsible for spearheading the HR strategy which includes driving Innovation, Diversity, Talent Management, Leadership Development and enhancing Employee Performance. As the Head of Information Technology, AnandaKrishnan is at the helm of leading Digital Transformation across various functions. Prior to this, AnandaKrishnan was the President - Director of PT TVS Motor Company, Indonesia, from 2012 to 2016.
AnandaKrishnan has over 30 years of global industry experience in Business Planning, Sales, Marketing, Operations and Human Resources across varied business environments with specialisation in Business Strategy and Change Management.
He has been a part of TVS Group since 1988 and was the Assistant General Manager in Sundaram Clayton before joining TVS Motor Company in 2005. Since then, AnandaKrishnan has held key positions in the Company across domains such as Sales, Marketing, Total Quality Management and Business Planning.
In conversation with People Matters, Anandakrishnan talks about how TVS is tackling barriers to sustainable DEI, the role of men in driving gender equity, and fostering inclusivity for people with disabilities.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
What key shifts do you foresee shaping the talent and workplace landscape in 2022?
Human Resources plays a vital role in building an agile, future-ready workforce. Today, the industry is experiencing exciting and exponential change, as e-mobility, artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things [IoT] are rapidly changing the workplace. Now is the time for organisations to scale up their learning and training efforts for employees to match their skills with the fast-evolving requirements of the industry.
The talent strategy should emphasise developing the digital skills of employees and enhancing their cognitive capabilities, emotional skills, adaptability, and resilience for future business challenges.
It is vital to have a continuous e learning process for today’s workforce to grasp the evolving dynamics of e-mobility and smart connectivity. To ensure a sustained employee experience, policy changes aren’t enough, and the mindsets should be changed. Empathy will be the keyword across workplaces to deliver a better employee experience. Organisations should consciously build a more positive, diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace.
Among the many elements of talent strategies that drew global attention in 2021, one key element was Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). How is TVS making DEI more sustainable in the everyday routine vs occasional awareness programs?
We at TVS Motor Company believe that diversity & inclusivity is a continued commitment. The company has undertaken sustainable initiatives to enable infrastructure, reinforce more safety at the workplace, streamline career progression plans, host of well-being programmes, and bring flexibility in various aspects at the workplace to ensure an inclusive and diverse workplace. The company has introduced unique programmes to support diversity & inclusivity at the workplace:
- ‘Beyond Prism’ and ‘Flying Lessons’ for Leadership Development among women at mid-level management and focus on building an unbiased ecosystem
- YourDOST: Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) support women employees, maternity returners, parenting workshops, psychological support. These programmes are available to both men and women. Regular workshops are undertaken for sensitisation of the workforce on the policy of sexual harassment at the workplace
- Unnati: As a part of TVS Motor’s Diversity & Inclusion goals for FY 21-22, the company has introduced the second career opportunity for women called ‘Unnati’. The programme ensures a progressive career for women who return from a sabbatical through a smoother, faster and more efficient onboarding process
- Persons with Disability (PwD) programme: To further add value to the inclusion efforts, the company has introduced the ‘Persons with Disability (PwD)’ focused programme. All employees undergo the ‘Inclusion and Sensitisation Workshop’ and ‘Basic Sign Language Workshop’ to ensure a seamless transition
What are some of the biggest challenges prolonging sustainable DEI? How can organisations overcome these?
While creating an inclusive ecosystem, organisations have to go beyond one-size-fits-all company-wide initiatives and focus more on specific challenges. Certain barriers need to be patiently and effectively tackled.
To address the most common hindrance to D&I's unconscious bias’ among the workforce, we have rolled out focused programmes to help dispel this and make it mandatory for managers.
Another barrier comes from ‘lack of awareness of the policies which is being overcome by consistent communication through various channels and continuous monitoring of the usage. Finally, ‘inclusion’ is not a roadblock but needs to be continuously fostered when you have employees from across regions, global nationalities, gender, PwD, veterans etc. We continue to work on this through inclusion workshops, policies, guidelines, comprehensive evaluations as a part of our endeavour to make every employee feel valued.
Particular to gender diversity, how do you see the role of men in enabling and accelerating gender equity?
To create true gender parity in any organisation, there has to be involvement from both men and women workforce. Male employees should be sensitised about the proper behaviour and mindset to support flexibility policies at the workplace actively. All managers have to be aligned with the D&I strategy of the company to understand their role in achieving sustainable diversity goals. Building an inclusive culture doesn’t happen overnight. It needs conscious and collective efforts across the workforce.
Employees must be encouraged to be the change agents in the workplace to create a growth environment across genders.
With a multi-generational workforce working in a hybrid environment, how is TVS enabling an ecosystem of empathy, respect, collaboration, and understanding individual life stage needs?
People have always been at the heart of what we do in TVS Motor Company. We strongly believe that to be an agile and resilient organisation, it is imperative to constantly assess the fast-evolving needs of employees as we do for our customers. Over the past year, our leaders have promoted a culture of agility and innovation to help employees navigate the challenges brought forth by the pandemic. The company safeguarded employees' safety and overall well-being while prioritising business continuity.
Our timely, open and transparent communication channel with senior leadership on recognitions, benefits and business announcements have been vital to building trust and assurance amongst the workforce. Further, our information mailers to inform and not alarm have provided much-needed information in advance to all employees on the developments during the pandemic. The company also rolled out engagement platforms to boost employee morale via virtual recognition and accolades.
With technology underpinning workplace accessibility for people with disabilities, how do you foresee inclusion becoming a reality? What can organisations do to overcome the social model of disability?
Companies are integrating diversity and inclusivity across levels to create a wholesome pool of resources. They have gradually started demonstrating the diversity of thought, identities, gender, race, age, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, talent, and background.
We have introduced a focused ‘Persons with Disability (PwD)’ programme to add value to our inclusion efforts further. As a first step, we have modified our infrastructure to make it compatible. All employees undergo the ‘Inclusion and Sensitisation Workshop’ and ‘Basic Sign Language Workshop’ to ensure a seamless transition. This is also a top management agenda and the progress is reviewed from time to time.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
- Enhance Inclusion of Women in the Workforce: We create a sustainable diversity and inclusivity ecosystem by enabling equal opportunity for all. Today, we have over 15% women in the workforce, and we are looking at increasing it to 25% in the years to come. Our key priority for Diversity and Inclusion in 2022 is to continue with the drive to enhance the participation of women in the workforce at TVS Motor Company, with a specific focus at leadership levels.
- Women Leadership Development: Focus on Women Leadership Development and have more women leaders in various roles. Currently, we are grooming women through classroom training with professional coaches and mentors among senior leadership. While these women take challenging on-the-job assignments, we will continue to groom emerging women leaders each year.
- ‘Unnati’: We are onboarding women back to the workforce through our Second Career for Women Programme, ‘Unnati’ for women who may have taken a sabbatical from work for a period of time.