There are strong reasons for companies to invest time and effort on improving diversity. One of the burning issues with the workforce composition in the industry is the skewed gender ratio. There is a wide gap between the gender ratio in colleges and the industry. While the ratio of women to men in colleges is 30%, the number dwindles by the time this section of the society joins the industry workforce. With this in mind, Godrej Industries started a journey focused on improving gender diversity in the enterprise. To address this issue, the company believes that besides making the environment conducive for women within the enterprise, it is important to sensitize men about women and their issues to truly become an inclusive company.
The company had a strong business case about why diversity had to be a central theme. The consumer market for the company’s product comprised a sizeable proportion of women both as existing customers and potential customers. Having a male-dominated workforce will limit the company’s ability to understand and create products aligned with the needs of customers.
Rather than invest in traditional women-centric interventions, such as crèches and women-leadership coaching, the company believes that it is equally important to sensitize men in the enterprise. The company, thus, started a journey to bring a shift in the mind-set and culture of the organization.
Some of the key initiatives included in the program are as follows.
Facilitated sessions - They included targeted initiatives which were aimed at grooming men on gender-sensitive conduct and abolishment of biases. Besides that special facilitated sessions were conducted to bring forth sub-conscious biases that exist as a consequence of convention or culture.
Gender-agnostic initiatives to drive equality- The company offers policy-level benefits that go beyond what large organizations in India generally offer- such as a ten day paternity leave, 3 months of adoption leave for the primary care-giver and a gender-neutral sexual harassment policy.
Open participation in women leadership network- The Godrej women leadership network is open for participation both for men and women. The network deals with gender issues, and they participate in meetings, workshops, etc.
Stereotype abolishment- These initiatives are targeted at showcasing stereotype roles that men and women play and how to break away from them. They are done through events, movie screenings, and other special initiatives.
Have a focused team
Having a diversity team helps a company’s diversity program focused and outcome-centric. Godrej created a 2-member diversity team responsible solely for driving diversity initiatives across the organisation. The team’s key objective is to identify and executive diversity programs. Besides that, the company also created a diversity board comprising senior leaders to sponsor and drive these initiatives both within the enterprise, and among the leadership team. The company’s CEO and other members of the company’s central leadership team actively invest their time and effort and make it an active part of their company communications.
(In conversation with Sumit Mitra, Head - Group Human Resources and Corporate Services, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate Companies (GILAC)