At a time when the COVID19 pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on life, we look at the how women are playing an increasingly important role in managing businesses as well as households.
In a conversation with People Matters, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj notes that companies need to empower and support women, while raising awareness across the organization.
Rajiv Bajaj is currently Chairman & MD of Bajaj Capital - An investment services company helping middle income Indians to achieve financial wellbeing over the course of lives. Rajiv has 30 years of rich experience in the fields of Investment Banking, Investment Advisory, Insurance Brokerage and Financial Planning. He is also a TEDx speaker on Ikigai and mentor and life coach to many, conducting workshops for entrepreneurs, companies and individuals on finding their life purpose, or ikigai .
Que 1: How has the last year changed your perspective on Diversity & Inclusion? With the increase in remote work and an emerging hybrid workplace model, what are some of the top talent trends you are observing?
We are in the business of building a relationship in handling financial matters and hence had to quickly respond to the situation arising after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. To enable ‘ Work-from-home' we set-up the digital automation of entire operations in 21 weeks flat. Now that we are again on WFH after the spread of second wave across various parts of India. Safety of our entire team especially women workforce is at the utmost priority. We are currently giving all possible support to our team members like “Doctor On Call”, “Helpline for Emergency” along with workshop on “Yoga for COVID recovery by renowned Yoga expert”
Bajaj Capital believes in a very respectful work culture and harsh, abusive language is strictly not tolerated. In Sales organizations, people tell us from past employment experience, bosses can get quite rough in language on non- achievement of targets. We have zero tolerance to such practices. Our women colleagues feel very comfortable in this culture of mutual trust and respect and a family environment at work.
As per our internal survey, women financial planners are around 40% more productive than their male counterparts, and that’s because women command greater trust and respect of clients and clients ‘listen’ to them much more carefully. Also, women have inherent financial budgeting skills managing the household budget.
Que 2: How are you creating awareness around D&I in your organization and are you running any specific programs?
Studies show that women spend 5 hours daily on domestic responsibility, then another eight hour of shift at office and 1-2 hours on commuting. We at Bajaj Capital realized the fact that “Self Care” hours were less or missing in women especially when it comes to mental wellbeing. During lockdown, we conducted many sessions in partnership with Omnilife, which was focused on “Total Wellbeing” including financial and mental wellbeing. It was well appreciated by our women workforce. I am personally involved in the coaching process and helping people find their Ikigai (Purpose in Life), while our Employee Engagement team also gets me connected virtually to some of the talented women for this workshop, which, helps them discover their purpose of life.
We have a SHEROES program which celebrates women achievement across all channels. Other then that to engage and motivate our women work-force in sales and business development team, we launched an R&R program “Retirement Champ”. This program celebrates the success of women sales-force who helps spread companies mission of helping people nearing retirement, just retired and senior citizens achieve “Holistic Retirement Life” including financial wellbeing for life . We celebrate this achievement on weekly basis to keep our women sales-force engaged and motivated. All possible support from their reporting head is also taken care of.
Que 3: You've noted how in Bajaj Capital, women are at the senior roles across sales, business development, business strategy and executive roles. Could you talk about the increase in the number of women? And how Bajaj Capital went about enabling this talent pipeline?
We have made sure that at Bajaj Capital women should lead from front. We have almost equal male vs female workforce I.e. about 1744 women as against a total of about 2302 male workers. And, our hiring practices are very transparent and are not gender biased. Our endeavor is to hire the right talent at the right position and at the right time.
We believe women are born financial planners and we made sure that our hiring number should speak the same and set up example for other organizations as well. Out of total 1744 women workforce, 1012 are in support and 732 are in sales. So our numbers are almost coming to equal.
Que 4: In terms of day to day support, how are you ensuring a healthy working environment for women employees?
Women workforce is our strength and taking care of them is our primary responsibility. First and foremost, we ensure that our women workforce feels safe and secure at office. We have 200+ branches spread across all over India and we have implemented POSH guidelines at all our branches. We invest time, money and energy in empowering women with equal career opportunities and training and development program to enhance their productivity.
At the workplace, we ensure good hygienic conditions, maternity leaves, first-aid, flexible working hours, app enabled attendance and bills approval, commuting support to name few. We have several R&R programs which have been designed to inspire women to work effectively.
Que 5: When increasing the representation of women at the workplace. What are some of the top challenges you're likely to encounter and how are you dealing with it?
As such we are not facing any challenges, on the contrary, it is offering us opportunities to grow. As per one survey that we conducted the most neglected goal in India was retirement and 90% of the Indian population do not have their Retirement Plan in place. When this was discussed among the team, women workforce were the most forthcoming to work towards this mission.
Although women are born financial planners, they aren’t always investing money for retirement despite the fact they tend to live longer than men. Sales and Business Development is no more only a men's game, at Bajaj Capital, women are leading from the front and making retirement plans for clients, handling compliance and companies balance-sheets.
Que 6: How is technology helping you in your journey to becoming an inclusive workplace?
During the lockdown period, our teams met online and through video meetings, we managed to keep ourselves connected, updated and much more responsive. We have recently revamped our website based on design thinking, introduced app based attendance, etc. With enhanced technology our one-to-one connect with our team has improved and productivity of the organization has gone up. All our employees air their views from time to time and in free manner, more learning programs have become possible even to a team member sitting in Tier 3 center, we all sailed through the Pandemic together which has really improved the belongingness and strengthened the bonds between Company and Employees. This is precisely the reason that our Employee feedback scores have gone up tremendously in the last one year.
Que 7: What are some of the top metrics you are reviewing to help align your D&I programs with business goals?
We all know that D&I programs is all about making the company better in terms of a great place to work and the impact on the bottom line. Few top metrics that we review to align our D&I programs are given below:
• Ranked method surveys to get the glimpse of satisfaction and belongingness of team members.
• Revenue per employee (by department/ demography to understand diversity impact)
• Employee turnover (department wise / demography wise / seniority wise and gender wise)
• Net Promoter score (department wise)
• %age of Managers mentoring Diverse Talent.
• No. of Diversity hires every month.
Que 8: What are your top priorities for D&I in 2021?
To remain a leader in the business, the management has to be responsive to the external environment especially when it comes to the human resources of an organization. Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace is something we have been following up for several years now. Of late, we have consciously increased our focus on the strength that diversity brings to the front. Not just about gender representation, we have employees representing varied personalities, skill sets, education, experiences, and knowledge base.
In addition, we have provided them with enough opportunities to collaborate, support and participate in the growth of the company. Giving them the ground to excel helps their development leading to the growth of the company. Our top priorities in 2021 are to continue working on these parameters and make every employee feel included and supported that can take the organization to higher levels.