Article: Building an inclusive foundation: Maria Rajesh shares Embassy Group’s DEI strategy

#Culture

Building an inclusive foundation: Maria Rajesh shares Embassy Group’s DEI strategy

In conversation with Maria Rajesh of Embassy Group, explore how she leads DEI initiatives, empowers women in real estate, and fosters a gender-neutral work environment.
Building an inclusive foundation: Maria Rajesh shares Embassy Group’s DEI strategy

As the Chief Human Resources Officer at Embassy Group, Maria Rajesh brings extensive experience and expertise in HR strategy and talent management. In this interview, we explore Maria's insights on Embassy Group's initiatives towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), particularly focusing on the empowerment and support of women in the real estate sector. 

Through this riveting discussion, we delved into the company's DEI strategy, internal committees for creating a friendly workplace environment, women-focused initiatives and more.

Here are some excerpts. 

Could you elaborate on Embassy Group's approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and how it is integrated into the company's overall business strategy?

At Embassy Group, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been ingrained organically into our ethos. We've recently intensified our efforts in this regard, forming an employee resource group and rallying our leadership. As a crucial initial step, we've launched a comprehensive study to assess our current standing against benchmark practices. This endeavour aims to pinpoint areas of strength and areas needing improvement, facilitating our ongoing commitment to DEI. Collaborating with Gallup on a DEI benchmarking study, we eagerly anticipate the insights it will provide. Our journey toward fostering a diverse and inclusive environment has evolved naturally within our organisation. We take pride in promoting leaders who have risen through the ranks based not only on gender but also on meritocracy. Reflecting on our past strides, we are poised to embrace the future with even greater dedication and resolve.

Could you share some of the key initiatives and programs at Embassy Group aimed at supporting and empowering women in the workforce, including employee benefits and opportunities for learning and development?

Within the real estate sector, which has historically been male-dominated, over 30% of our leaders are women. Moreover, the company focuses on:

Building a gender-neutral work environment: Diversity and inclusion, and most importantly, buy-in from senior management, make the hiring of a diverse talent pool the first step. We then ensure pay equality by defining a compensation philosophy that pays for performance, individual achievement, internal equity, and market competitiveness.

Developing policies that make work-life balance better for everyone: Building a gender-neutral work environment, ensuring transparency in performance evaluation, and giving employees the liberty to make decisions at work provide the confidence and empowerment to fuel the growth of a healthy workforce.

Maternity Leave: We introduced the 6-month maternity leave policy at Embassy Group, even before it was made mandatory by law. This initiative brought about great comfort among young mothers in the organisation to balance their family and professional lives. This move has encouraged women to get back to work after their maternity leave and continue reaping their professional growth prospects.

Leadership Development: We have also launched several leadership development programmes that have run successfully for the last 4–5 years. We have now introduced a robust development programme for other levels of management that spans assessments, feedback, and mentoring. We have ensured there is internal growth for women within the organisation, with more than 50% of our women leaders coming up from within.

Embassy Group recently launched an internal communication video initiative featuring women leaders and how they are ‘Building Homes’ for real. Could you elaborate on this initiative and its impact on employee engagement and empowerment?

Through Embassy Group's Women's Day campaign, we aimed to celebrate the real ‘homemakers’ of the country. The campaign challenges traditional stereotypes and highlights the multifaceted contributions of women, who play pivotal roles in creating, maintaining, and shaping the spaces of today and tomorrow.

This campaign fostered a sense of pride and recognition among our employees. It sparked meaningful conversations and served as an inspiration as the Embassy family celebrated all the people who lead them today. It reinforced a sense of belonging and value within the organisation, highlighting the importance of an equitable workplace, gender diversity, and inclusivity.

By showcasing women in leadership from various backgrounds, the campaign reinforced the idea that women are integral to the fabric of the real estate sector and shed light on how women can drive tremendous positive change within what are traditionally perceived as male dominated fields of business, infrastructure, and development.

Real estate is often perceived as a male-dominated industry. What opportunities does Embassy Group offer for women who are interested in exploring careers in the real estate sector? How has the Embassy Group ensured strong representation of women, especially in leadership positions?

In today's evolving landscape, industries are no longer confined to specific genders, ethnicities, or cultures. With shifting organisational cultures and generational dynamics, there has been a growing emphasis on fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces, and Embassy is no exception to this trend. We prioritise building a diverse talent pool, and welcoming individuals from various educational and professional backgrounds, spanning industries such as banking, finance, and beyond. This diversity is a cornerstone of our strength, driving innovation and excellence in our endeavours. Our commitment to inclusivity extends beyond gender, with a firm stance on providing equal opportunities for all. We actively support individuals, including women returning from maternity leave, by offering flexible career pathways and opportunities for growth. Numerous examples within our organisation highlight the successful integration of women into various roles, from sales and site management to leadership positions in design and project teams. At Embassy, there are no barriers based on gender, and we continuously strive to foster an environment where all talents can thrive and contribute to the success of our real estate endeavours.

How does Embassy Group measure the effectiveness of its diversity and inclusion initiatives, and what strategies are in place to continuously improve and evolve these efforts over time? 

As we mentioned earlier, diversity and inclusion (DI) for us is not just about empowering women within the company. We strive to ensure that multiple voices are acknowledged and valued at every level, from minor team decisions to major organisational initiatives. Our commitment to inclusivity permeates every aspect of our organisation. It's ingrained in our culture to foster an environment where every individual's perspective is respected and heard. This ethos extends beyond formal surveys; our leadership actively encourages the contribution of new ideas from all members, particularly those with fresh perspectives and innovative insights. We promote an open culture where individuals feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and suggestions with one another. In essence, inclusivity is not merely a checkbox; it's a fundamental principle that guides our interactions and drives our collective efforts toward continuous improvement and growth.

Moving forward, we intend to develop strategies based on the insights gleaned from the DEI survey.

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Topics: #Culture, Leadership, Learning & Development, Diversity, #HRCommunity

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