An equal world is an enabled world. Be it in our personal lives or workplaces, the onus lies on us to challenge stereotypes, fight biases, broaden perceptions, improve situations and help create an equal world. It is critical to create a workplace in which opportunities are not distributed on a discriminatory basis and have the ability to embrace the diverse needs of India’s millennial workforce.
It is here that the role of leadership becomes even more critical. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, Senior Director and Head, Human Resources, PayPal, shares her views on the concept of equality and key things organizations and leaders must do in order to create diverse and inclusive workplaces.
How do you see the current Diversity and Inclusion landscape in APAC?
Over the last few years, APAC has gained significant momentum from both a business and diversity standpoint. This can be attributed to the fact that three out of five people come from this region and hence the need for Inclusive practices and leadership. This has also resulted in competition for talent intensifying and we see this trend increasing over the coming years. For companies today, it is about tailoring unique practices and not following a one size fits all kind of approach. For example, as we hire millennials/ Gen Y and Gen X, besides compensation, a key differentiator for them while choosing an employer is the larger purpose and values that it stands for. The significance and need for companies to, therefore, focus on building an employer brand that aligns with what this generation is looking for will be mission-critical.
Creating awareness around Diversity & Inclusion helps build an inclusive culture at the workplace. Do you think organizations are ready to factor in an inclusive mindset as a deal-breaker at the time of hiring?
As we hire, building an employer brand that aligns with their belief system will be a key differentiator. D&I today is not just a nice thing to do but has become business-critical. A diverse employee base helps us serve the needs of our diverse customers from across the globe more effectively. Diversity also plays a key role in nurturing innovation and especially critical in hiring leaders into the organization, who are responsible to rally the culture of Inclusion in their respective functions
The very essence of a workforce that performs optimally lies in the fact that the work environment is equal and there is no bias towards their existence in the system. At PayPal, we walk the talk and our values stand testimony to that. We have developed a culture that is built around our four values of Collaboration, Innovation, Inclusion, and Wellness.
We are proud of the work that we do to create a diverse and inclusive environment at PayPal. l We are privileged to be named as one of the Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), apart from being named amongst the best workplaces for women.
It’s also critical we don’t look at it from a just a diversity perspective but how do we create an environment where everyone feels respected and included.
How can HR leaders work towards gaining leadership buy-in and ownership towards driving diversity and inclusion initiatives? What are the different areas of diversity that organizations need to work towards?
Focus on D&I and building a work culture in which everyone feels respected and can bring their true self to work is today not only an HR role. To build an inclusive organization, the commitment needs to start from the top. It needs to be in the very foundation on which a company is built.
The role of HR is to implement the vision and ensure that it gets translated to every last employee across the globe. HR plays a key role in ensuring that they develop the right programs, implement policies which ensure that that this sensitization and commitment to inclusion are across the organization. It is also critical to continuously measure the impact of these programs.
In order to live up to our focus on D&I, I firmly believe that we need to allow employees to become its ambassadors and lead the initiatives. At PayPal, D&I Communities are company approved, employee-led, grassroots groups that bring employees together to build impact around a specific affinity—to create safe spaces to dialogue and foster a sense of belonging and support for inclusion to thrive in the workplace. These communities exist to benefit and advance their own group members and PayPal by working strategically, both internally and externally, in addition to helping to contribute to PayPal’s market success. The D&I Communities are open to all employees – no matter what your affinity or preference.
Communities must be able to support recruitment, retention, engagement, business development, and community outreach efforts.
“They should feel it is their agenda, not the organization’s agenda.”
What kind of metrics can be applied to measure the effectiveness of D&I initiatives?
At PayPal, while the hiring metrics are the more fundamental ones, for us what is more important is our engagement metric and employees' connectedness with the organization. It is about what they feel about our values which are measured periodically through our internal engagement surveys. It is this which helps give us a pulse check on how employees feel and what steps need to be taken to improve the work culture.
What are your top priorities for D&I in 2020?
While gender diversity will always remain a key pillar for us, our focus on the inclusion of the LGBTQ community is equally critical. In a country like India, we cannot ignore the need to focus on socio-economic and gender diversity as well. We continue to enhance our D&I policies and ensure that it does not stop with one initiative but is a continuous process of integrating constantly and creatively.