Article: Siemens India’s Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari on fostering DEI at the workplace


Siemens India’s Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari on fostering DEI at the workplace

Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari, EVP & Country Head (People & Organisation) and Diversity Officer, Siemens Limited, emphasises that engaging in DEI) efforts isn't just a commendable choice but, more importantly, the right course of action.
Siemens India’s Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari on fostering DEI at the workplace

Discover the dynamic world of diversity, equity, and inclusion as Shilpa Kabra Maheshwari, EVP & Country Head (People & Organization) and Diversity Officer, Siemens shares insights on fostering an inclusive workplace. From innovative hiring initiatives to nurturing women's talent and overcoming challenges, dive into Siemens' holistic approach to gender equity.

What is your organisation's long-term vision for gender equity, diversity, and inclusion, and how does it align with the overall business strategy?

Diversity is not only about gender but cuts across gender, race, generation, ability, nationality, background, thought, experience, and much more. Working on diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a good thing to do but is the right thing to do.

Organisations must bring in a diversity of thought, not just from a cognitive perspective but also to bring diversity in ways of working, managing conflict, and building social connections. For Siemens, we are a conglomerate with businesses that cut across digital industries, energy, mobility, infrastructure, and financial services, with diverse roles across functions such as engineering, R&D, projects, etc. DEI is an integral part of the actions, steps, and initiatives spanning across hiring, development, engagement, and retention. This is embedded across our offices, project sites, and factories.

Our strategic objectives mirror the diversity of society. We strive for an equitable workforce, actively working towards fostering a sense of belonging for everyone in the workplace. We have identified key levers, including gender balance, pride, ability, and society, to address various aspects such as ex-servicemen, cultural diversity, and talent mobility.

How is the Gender Equity Program integrated into the broader HR and organisational strategy?

From 2021 the Gender Equity Program was instituted to intentionally address gender disparities, foster gender equity to bring forward the best talent, and measure the impact we have made each year. We have commitments across 2 levers:

1) Hiring better than the market in business functions

2) Improving the share of women in management positions

The Gender Equity Program is not just a “numbers game”: it is a lever to introduce a culture shift as well. We also have an aim to achieve a 50-50 balance in university hiring and aim to double our women headcount over the next 3 years.

From 2023, we have embedded the GEP in awareness programs, manager development programs, communities, ERGs and organisational learning programs.

How are Indian organisations doing in gender equity as compared to global organisations?

In many parts of the world, including India, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of gender equity in the workplace. Indian organisations, like their global counterparts, have made efforts to address gender disparities through policies, diversity and inclusion initiatives, mentorship programs, and awareness campaigns.

In addressing the visible gap between demand and supply of women in STEM roles, India faces challenges similar to those on the global stage. Initiatives such as mentorship programs and outreach efforts are crucial in both contexts to encourage women to pursue and thrive in STEM careers.

Do you have any specific gender equity initiative in place? If yes, how are these initiatives communicated to employees, and what kind of training or awareness programs are provided?

Gender equity is a cornerstone of our organisational values, and we have implemented targeted initiatives across the WIN, GROW, and BOND dimensions of the P&O strategy.

Hiring Initiatives

We've adopted tools like Textio to create gender-neutral job descriptions, fostering a more inclusive hiring process. Our innovative employee referral program, Hi5, specifically encourages applications from women. Additionally, we have partnered with diversity talent search firms, reinforcing our commitment to Gender Equity Programs (GEP). At the university level, our hiring aims for a 50-50 gender balance.

Development Programs

We've implemented mentoring and coaching programs such as GrowToGlow. We nurture women talent through several development programs.


Recognising the importance of work-life balance, we offer extended maternity leave support beyond statutory requirements. Our revamped daycare and creche facilities contribute to a supportive environment, and the Reboot 2.0 Maternity Assistance program ensures a seamless transition for women returning to work.

Engagement Initiatives

Leadership connects are conducted without a specific agenda, providing a platform for open dialogue across the organisation. Dedicated workshops encourage dialogue on important gender-related topics, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and diversity talks, featuring inspiring journeys of women leaders, serve as motivational sessions for our workforce. Through our gender-inclusive policies, to the physical and psychological safety of women at the workplace. Not only have we institutionalized policy on POSH but have extended the applicability of the provisions of the Act to all employees working in Siemens irrespective of gender.

What challenges has the organisation faced in implementing gender equity and diversity initiatives, and how have these challenges been addressed?

Some of the challenges we have faced as an organisation:

Limited External Supply of Lateral Talent Pool- The industry's competition for the same talent pool has posed challenges, particularly in attracting lateral talent externally. To address this, we've partnered with diversity talent search firms, and focus on developing our talent to be future ready.

Enhancing manager capability- To provide more opportunities and explore innovative ideas to foster DEI. At Siemens, we have the Reboot program where managers guide and support women returning to work after their maternity leave.

Percolation of our initiatives till the last mile- We have seen an impact by creating micro-communities that act as a driving force for DEI and are self-sustaining across locations.

With the GEP program, our commitments and targets are more concrete. Ultimately what gets measured is what gets done. We have greater leadership commitment and leadership modeling, high governance on this topic, and as well as increased accountability for managers.

Are there any lessons learned or best practices that have emerged from overcoming challenges?

There are key enablers for an organisation, which we have learned from overcoming these challenges.

  • Commitment-Focus from leadership and tone from the top are essential to foster a culture of belonging and inclusion.
  • Communication- Reinforcement of the key messages, sharing best practices and learnings helps to permeate the message. This has to be part of the organisational agenda and not just limited to pockets.
  • Count- Having a clear measure of commitment, to measure the effectiveness of the actions and steps taken towards the goal.

 How does the organisation plan to adapt to changing workforce demographics and societal expectations?

To navigate evolving workforce demographics and societal expectations, organisations should prioritise diversity and inclusion, offer flexible work arrangements, invest in skill development, and implement succession planning. Supporting employee well-being through health and wellness programs, integrating technology, and demonstrating social responsibility are crucial. Regular monitoring and evaluation ensure ongoing alignment with evolving trends, and help create a resilient and future-ready workforce.

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Topics: Diversity, #SheMatters, #HRCommunity

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