Article: ICICI Prudential Life Insurance's Urvi Chhaya on reshaping DEI in the insurance industry


ICICI Prudential Life Insurance's Urvi Chhaya on reshaping DEI in the insurance industry

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is important for the long-term success and sustainability of insurance companies, says Urvi Chhaya, SVP – HR, ICICI Prudential Life and goes on to share some strategies that her organisation has implemented to attract and retain diverse talent.
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance's Urvi Chhaya on reshaping DEI in the insurance industry

The insurance industry caters to diverse customer segments and works with multiple distribution partners. Understanding and responding appropriately to the varied needs of both customers and partners is best accomplished when the workforce not only values but also mirrors this diversity.

In an interaction with People Matters, Urvi Chhaya, Senior Vice President – Human Resources, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Limited, goes on to show why Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is important for the long-term success and sustainability of insurance companies, while sharing strategies that her organisation has implemented to attract and retain diverse talent.

Why is DEI important in the insurance industry? 

At ICICI Prudential Life, we believe that fairness and meritocracy are foundational for building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture, and we strive to uphold the same through an integrated framework called the ABCD framework i.e.:

Attracting diverse talent – Enhance the diversity quotient by augmenting access to diverse talent pools

Belongingness and inclusion – Enhance belongingness and inclusion at the workplace through enabling policies, awareness, and sensitisation programmes

Connect and provide support – Extend Connect platforms and safe spaces  for employees to network and learn from the experiences of senior role models

Diversity Dashboards – Formalised tracking of progress on gender diversity reviewed in senior management forums as well as the Diversity Council

There is credible evidence that demonstrates that diversity of thoughts and perspectives fuel creativity, innovation and progress, thereby better business outcomes. Insurance companies are working towards creating a supportive and inclusive workplace that harnesses the unique needs, skills and contribution of its diverse workforce.

How do you ensure that your recruitment process is fair and inclusive, and avoids bias? What strategies have you implemented to attract and retain diverse talent, especially women?

Our recruitment and selection process is built around establishing motivation fit for the job apart from relevant skills, experience and culture fit. The focus is to ensure that there is adequate diversity in the pool of talent being sourced for selection based on fair and meritocratic principles.

To enhance the participation of women in frontline roles, we conduct exclusive recruitment drives at women-only graduate colleges. Our recruitment partners have also been mandated to proactively provide profiles with a balanced gender mix for job openings at the company. The gender diversity for graduate campus hires for frontline roles stands at 43 per cent and 35 per cent from management graduates.

Various enabling and supportive policies catering to the varied life stage needs of women have been extended to enhance belongingness and inclusion in the workplace. Among recent measures to ease travel based on business requirements, the company bears the cost of travel and stay of an additional caregiver for all employees, irrespective of gender.

For women employees, we provide additional maternity and paid leave in case of miscarriage or any maternity-related illness. Additionally, the company offers supportive policies such as partially paid leave for fertility treatment and paid leave for adoption or surrogacy.

To ensure the safety of women employees while travelling for business, the company provides higher reimbursement limits for travel and stay.

The company has recently formed a Women Resource Group comprising senior women employees offering guidance and advice to younger women colleagues on managing careers, career challenges and balancing work-life at various life stages or other work-related aspects.

Besides, we have also put in place an interactive leadership forum - Udaan - where exemplars who have reached the pinnacle of professional excellence are hosted to share their thoughts, insights and learning from their rich and diverse experience, thereby encouraging learning through role modelling for all employees.

With the introduction of such policies and interventions, the company aims to encourage greater participation of women in the company's workforce and support them to stay invested in their careers.

Fairness and meritocracy is a key employee proposition, and we wash the rating distribution for women and male colleagues to ensure fairness in performance assessment, career progression and rewards. We also have a separate cohort to assess women colleagues on maternity leave to avoid bias in performance assessment.

How do you measure the success of your DEI initiatives, and what metrics do you use?

We have formalised Diversity Dashboards to track progress on the DEI agenda at periodic intervals, which gets discussed and reviewed at various fora.

The company's efforts to strengthen gender diversity and foster an inclusive culture have increased the overall composition of women to 27 per cent of the company's total workforce. Significantly, women's participation in the company's process and support functions is now 39 per cent. The company also tracks the Diversity & Inclusion Index (D&I index) through its Voice of Employee survey.

What steps do you plan to take to further improve DEI in your organisation?

We have instituted our Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion policy with a focus on gender as one of our priority areas.

Apart from gender, the company also aims to focus on the integration of persons with disabilities (PwDs) and the LGBTQ community as part of its D&I agenda.

We have formalised a Diversity Council comprising the senior leadership team that steers and reviews the D&I agenda in line with our “ABCD” framework.

Our policies are designed to cater to the life-stage needs of our multi-generational workforce and reinforcing our commitment towards providing a supportive environment for all our colleagues in their time of need.

Besides formalising a Diversity Council to drive the Diversity & Inclusion agenda, as a first step, our HR policies have been rephrased with gender-neutral language through the use of gender-neutral pronouns, thereby creating a more inclusive workplace where all employees can bring their authentic selves to work.

The definition of family, wherever relevant, has been expanded from the terminology of a spouse to include same-sex partners. All employees who are primary caregivers, including men, women and non-cisgendered employees, are entitled to adoption/surrogacy leave.

Understanding that flexibility is a key issue for many working women as well as for men colleagues with specific lifestage needs, the company provides its employees with an option to avail of sabbatical or flexible working hours to meet their personal and official commitments.

It is our constant endeavour to create an enabling workplace for diverse groups, respecting and embracing the differences in individuals. Taking a step forward in this direction, the company has launched an awareness programme on unconscious bias to educate employees and managers on the biases people hold, how it impacts workplace decisions and how these can be minimised.

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Topics: Diversity, Employee Engagement, #DEIB, #WomenofChange, #Work Culture

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