Article: Daimler Truck India's Harshavardhan Kundalkar on how to shape diversity and inclusion


Daimler Truck India's Harshavardhan Kundalkar on how to shape diversity and inclusion

The automobile and tech industries have the reputation of lacking in diversity, but companies are pushing ahead to boost this aspect of talent management.
Daimler Truck India's Harshavardhan Kundalkar on how to shape diversity and inclusion

How do you advance inclusion within a traditionally male-dominated and non-diverse industry, one that is even now trying to change its approach to diversity? We hear some practical tips from Harshavardhan Kundalkar, CHRO, Daimler Truck Innovation Centre India, who shares more about the journey his organisation is taking to stay abreast of transformation in the industry.

As the Chief People Officer at Daimler Truck Innovation Centre India, what strategies have you implemented to create a positive and inclusive work culture within the organisation?

DTICI is focused on creating an environment that our employees feel happy to be a part of. Our ambition statement, career mobility programs, employee-centric wellness initiatives, and focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives represent our commitment to creating a culture where employees can thrive. 

Could you share some examples of how Daimler Truck prioritises employee development and growth opportunities to foster a motivated and engaged workforce?

What motivates someone differs from person to person. Of course, fiscal incentives are important in motivating employees, but that’s not the only factor. To make an engaged and motivated workforce a reality, we focus on holistic development to ensure we cover all our bases. From high-quality job content to training opportunities spanning technical, domain, intercultural, and leadership skills. By providing our employees with effective learning and development tools, we help them to future-proof their careers. We also give them significant exposure to working with teams across the world on various projects in a conducive environment that values their contribution and supports them to excel in their roles.

How does Daimler Truck ensure effective communication and collaboration amongst its global workforce, considering the diverse locations and cultural backgrounds of its employees?

DTICI is a key part of a global organisation without borders. A key part of the DTICI experience is knowledge sharing cross-functionally across all the brands in the Daimler Truck family. 

Our engineers here focus on the software and the teams travel to different locations for testing of that software when it's applied to the vehicles. This gives our employees the right exposure to understand customers better, see the impact of their work on ground, and work closely as a truly effective team with their colleagues in other locations to overcome any challenges in realising their vision. 

We also give our employees the opportunity to explore many careers within a career by helping them expand their skills across the board. Based on how we are set up, both remote and in-person collaboration are essential to how we function. 

What steps has Daimler Truck taken to promote diversity and inclusion within the organisation, and how has it contributed to the overall success of the company?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are not just ‘buzzwords’ for us. We have created a charter for DEI and linked it to the larger core organisation strategy. This is often not very common because DEI is often considered a ‘side’ function. Historically, the auto and tech industries may have given the impression of being male-dominated, but this perception is slowly changing. Gender diversity is a key focus area for us, across all levels of the organization, and is an important component of our people agenda. 

We have various programs such as - building sensitivity across the spectrum, growing inclusion, career intentionality, and building a sense of belonging. Focusing on gender diversity is just the beginning; we are also focusing on the rest of the diversity spectrum.

In a rapidly evolving industry, how does Daimler Truck attract and retain top talent, and what initiatives are in place to continuously develop the skills and competencies of its employees?

The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation from an engineering-centric to a software-driven ecosystem. This is one of the most exciting times to be a part of the sector. Our pioneering approach to talent management combines innovation, career growth opportunities, and a robust skill development ecosystem. We foster a culture of creativity and internal mobility, enabling our employees to advance in their roles. 

At the same time, tailored training programs, diverse learning interventions, and academic collaborations drive continuous skill enhancement. Our commitment to a learning culture and active participation in industry events keeps our workforce at the forefront of technological advancements, bolstering their growth and our competitive edge. We also prioritise employee well-being, as mentioned before.

This multifaceted approach not only equips our workforce for the challenges of today but prepares them for the opportunities of tomorrow, in the dynamic landscape of the automotive industry.

Can you share some strategies or programmes implemented by Daimler Truck to ensure employee well-being and work-life balance, especially considering the demanding nature of the industry?

We know that happy employees are motivated employees, and so wellbeing is at the centre of all our activities. Our employees enjoy the flexibility of working remotely from any location. Our robust wellness initiatives, focusing on physical, mental, parental, financial, and social wellness, focus on all aspects of employees' lives. Our thoughtfully curated bouquet of benefits that support employees at every stage of their lives, holistic training, and mentorship play a key role in keeping our employees happy, motivated, and thriving at work.

What are some of the key leadership competencies valued at Daimler Truck, and how are they developed and assessed within the organisation?

Collaboration, teamwork, and the ability to envision the future are crucial leadership competencies for success at DTICI. At the same time, we strongly believe that continuous learning is key to fully realising these abilities within our employees, so our leadership development initiatives ensure that we support all our leaders in developing and mastering these competencies. 

In your experience, what are the critical factors for building and sustaining a strong people-centric culture, and how does Daimler Truck exemplify these principles?

We consistently strive to build an organization that is a progressive place to work by enabling and inspiring our team to spearhead the transformation of transportation. Employee feedback plays a key role in sustaining a people-centric culture which in turn enables such innovation. ‘Speak Up’ is one of our values that we embody and implement every day at DTICI. By empowering employees to voice their needs, we make a thoughtful, caring culture a reality. 

Empowerment lies at the heart of our ‘Speak Up’ values. By giving our employees the platform to voice their needs and ideas, we transform mere words into action. This empowerment shapes a thoughtful and caring culture where employees feel valued, supported, and appreciated. It goes beyond rhetoric; it becomes a daily practice, embedding empathy and understanding into the fabric of our organisation. 

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Topics: Diversity, Culture, #HRCommunity, #DEIB

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