An equal world is an enabled world. Be it in our personal lives or at our workplaces, the onus lies on us to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and help create an equal world where opportunities are not distributed on a discriminatory basis rather accept and embrace diverse needs of the new-age workforce.
Which is where the role of leadership in creating an equal workplace becomes even more important In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Gayathri Ramamurthy, Diversity and Inclusion Leader, Capgemini India shares 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?
At Capgemini, the principles of diversity are a source of creativity, innovation and inspiration for us. We want to be recognized worldwide as a leading responsible company using our expertise for the positive impact we are ‘Architects of Positive Futures’. It shapes how we work with our customers, partners, suppliers, and colleagues globally to create greater opportunities for sustainable business and affirms our status as an employer of choice. An inclusive environment makes us all feel welcomed and valued for the contributions we make, and this requires everyone’s commitment. We are committed to equality of opportunity and dignity at work for all, irrespective of caste, religion, race, gender, color, creed, ethnic or national origin, marital status, sexuality and sexual orientation and expression, disability, class or age.
Creating awareness around Diversity & Inclusion helps build an inclusive culture in the workplace. Do you think organizations are ready to factor in an inclusive mindset as a deal-breaker at the time of hiring?
Building a robust D&I framework which incorporates strong governance and defined targeted interventions is key. For hiring to be devoid of biases, sensitization is essential though a structure to the process is absolutely necessary. The structure will facilitate a fair and informed decision- making process. Our structure requires you to stretch your comfort zone and self-reflect on how you make decisions.
At Capgemini in India, we have introduced focused diversity hiring initiatives across middle and senior leadership levels.
We have instituted very strong referral programs especially around hiring women in key technology and management roles. Out of the total hiring at entry-level in 2019, 51% were women hires. In 2019 out of the total VP hires, 47% were women hires. Moreover, there was an increase in women hiring (lateral) from 31% in Q1 to 38% in Q4 2019.
How can HR leaders work towards gaining leadership buy-in and ownership towards driving diversity and inclusion initiatives?
Leadership is about being inclusive and behaviors that drive respect and inclusion need to be role modeled by leaders who will be emulated downstream. Inclusive Culture is reflected through subtle actions and truly tested in decisive moments.
To me, HR is an enabling function and is responsible for communicating on appropriate behaviors. It is leaders who drive the business agenda and make decisions on their talent who need to make the “right “decisions, not limited to just business.
What are the different areas of diversity that organizations need to work towards?
Since 2004, we have driven a diversity agenda across the whole Group. Capgemini‘s global charter on D&I is the guiding principle based on which we define our regional initiatives. Diversity dimensions that we currently invest in are on gender balance, people with disabilities, LGBT+ talent. Given that we are a global multinational, we drive multiculturism as a dimension. Additionally, Happiness and Wellbeing is our 2020 agenda which envelops mental health. In India, we have set up a Governing Council to include key members from the D&I function, Business, Marcomm, and Legal.
What are the key pillars of building a cultural fabric that fosters inclusivity?
Diversity and inclusivity at the workplace encourage creativity and innovation because every team member with different backgrounds and experiences brings in unique viewpoints and perspectives to the table.
D&I is a business imperative and needs to be positioned as such to impact and build an inclusive culture. Studies tell us that the most obvious manifestation of organizational culture is the explicit behaviors of members of that culture.
Unless we vocalize and express required behaviors, apart from leaders displaying these positive behaviors consistently, even at times of distress; you cannot state that we are fostering inclusion.
Capgemini drives diversity and inclusion through 4 focused pillars of delivery:
• Recruit –tap into the diversity of women talent across entry, lateral and senior managerial levels through focussed initiatives like CAPtivate, REKruit etc.
• Retain - pillar focuses on supporting through better-equipped infrastructure like restrooms, doctor’s facilities, crèches etc., making the workplace more user-friendly through skill upgrade, the right placement, and personal counseling, pre & post-maternity care through “Engage and Stay Connect” program.
• Develop to accelerate - focuses on cross-BU Pilot Program for mentoring / coaching of high potential women employees at mid and senior management level.
• Corporate awareness - focusses on building awareness an unconscious bias across levels towards balanced leadership, evangelizing and sharing best practices internally and externally
For PWD, we focus on the rights of persons with disabilities, such as-
• Accessibility - Removing barriers by providing accessible Infrastructure, IT systems, and reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities
• Career - Ensuring inclusion through the non-discriminatory recruitment process, training, and HR policies
• Engagement - Engaging employees by means of sensitization and cultural building
• Evangelism - Evangelizing inclusivity in society through industry and customer connect
OUTfront initiatives encompass inclusive policies like same-sex partner insurance, coverage of gender affirmation surgery, hiring transgender candidates in supplier community, hiring trans persons to strengthen the diversity of our workforce and supplier community, among other initiatives.
Multiculturalism – A global multinational with a footprint in India across 12 cities and employee strength of 110,000+ cannot function at it best if we are not enveloping of all cultures
What kind of metrics can be applied to measure the effectiveness of D&I initiatives?
Most organizations define metrics that cover tangible targets. We need to go beyond and address VOE – voice of the employee. An ongoing and real-time feedback mechanism is essential and has been very impactful for Capgemini.
In 2019, following were the metrics met at Capgemini: Increased the women hiring (lateral) from 31% in Q1 to 38% in Q4; women representation in senior grades increased from 16% in 2018 to 20% in 2019; increased women progression (promotion) – 7% increase overall of female promotion over that of our male counterpart in comparison to the gender-wise eligible population headcount; and physical infrastructure like ramps, toilets, office spaces, walkways made accessible for PWD.
What are your top priorities for D&I in 2020?
In 2020, apart from expanding our existing creche facility in Bengaluru to a 100 seater, we commit to setting up facilities in our Pune office location. We will also launch Parents network - Parents@CG is our parental network support program which aims to support all colleagues with parental responsibilities and strengthen their existing parenting abilities and promote the development of new competencies so that parents have the knowledge and skills needed to carry out child-rearing responsibilities and provide their children with experiences and opportunities that promote child learning and development.
We are also taking our OUTfront program a step further and creating inclusion champions, where colleagues will affirm their actions by taking a pledge to be an ally and continue to drive the culture of inclusion intentionally at all levels of the organization. The program called OUTfront Ally Network Group (OANG) is open for all as everyone has a role to play in making Capgemini truly inclusive. We will conduct sensitization sessions at Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Noida for not just leaders and workforce but also the supplier community, guards, office staff, cafeteria vendors, search firm vendors etc.
We are also focusing on building balanced parental leave policy for great equality and flexibility for our colleagues and enhancing focus on hiring Persons with Disabilities.
Can you tell us in one word what Diversity and Inclusion mean to you?
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