Article: What is imperative to foster inclusivity? SBI General Insurance’s HR head gives the answer


What is imperative to foster inclusivity? SBI General Insurance’s HR head gives the answer

Saurabh Shyam, Head of Human Resources and L&D at SBI General Insurance, shares insights on fostering inclusivity and addressing workplace biases in the insurance sector.
What is imperative to foster inclusivity? SBI General Insurance’s HR head gives the answer

Saurabh Shyam, Head - Human Resources and L&D, SBI General Insurance, recognises employees as a key growth driver and pillar of growth for an organisation.  In an exclusive interview with People Matters, he credits people and teams for making the organisation one of the fastest-growing companies in the insurance sector. Saurabh also emphasises identifying, training, and rewarding people to create a performance-based, open, and transparent culture.

What are the major areas that need a stronger focus to make the organisation inclusive?

To foster inclusivity within an organisation, it's imperative to concentrate on several key areas. First and foremost, leadership commitment is essential, with executives championing diversity and holding themselves accountable for progress. At SBI General Insurance, our employees serve as a key growth driver and pillar of growth, which underscores the importance of their inclusion and support in helping us achieve our objective of – Winning Company, Winning Team. Additionally, implementing inclusive hiring practices ensures that we cultivate diverse talent pools reflective of the communities we serve. Equitable opportunities for career advancement and professional development must be provided to all employees, irrespective of their backgrounds. Creating a culture of belonging is pivotal, where individuals feel valued, respected, and heard. Addressing unconscious biases through training and awareness programs and developing cultural competencies in our people is also critical.

What are the warning signs that signal a need for a stronger focus on belonging at the workplace, specific to the insurance sector?

Recognising warning signs is crucial for maintaining a healthy organisational culture. Lack of diversity in leadership positions indicates a lack of inclusion and barriers to career advancement within the organisation. Additionally, decreased employee engagement and morale, difficulty in attracting diverse talent, and disparities in pay and promotions based on demographic factors are additional red flags that warrant immediate attention and action.

At SBI General, we prioritise employee satisfaction and engagement as critical components of our organisational strategy. To ensure a smooth people strategy, we continuously evaluate and monitor productivity. Implementing regular interventions to enhance productivity helps foster a performance-oriented environment that benefits both employees and the organisation as a whole. We are committed to invest in our people to grow talent and create a positive working environment. Employees feel valued, and respected and there is a sense of purpose and fulfillment in what they do.   

What forms of workplace bias are prevalent within the insurance sector, and how do they impact the available talent? What strategies can be employed to mitigate these biases?

Within the insurance sector, various forms of workplace bias persist and can hinder the full utilisation of available talent. Gender bias often manifests in women being overlooked for leadership roles or receiving lower compensation compared to their male counterparts. To mitigate this, implementing gender-blind recruitment processes, offering targeted leadership development programs, and establishing mentorship initiatives can be effective strategies. Similarly, addressing age bias through inclusive hiring practices and training on age-related stereotypes, as well as combatting racial and ethnic bias with diversity training and employee resource groups, are essential steps toward creating a more inclusive workplace. At SBI General, we firmly believe that nurturing talent leads to greater business value. We recognise that achieving excellence involves investing in our employees and fostering a workplace that prioritizes qualities such as fairness, integrity, transparency, and leadership.

Data from a Deloitte India report in 2021 attributes that women are highly underrepresented in leadership positions in the finance industry in India. What can be done to close this gap and help women thrive in leadership roles?

The underrepresentation of women in leadership positions within the finance industry, as highlighted in the Deloitte India report, calls for proactive measures to close the gender gap. Policies promoting gender equality in recruitment, promotion, and compensation are essential, alongside targeted leadership development and mentorship programs tailored to women. Fostering a supportive workplace culture that values work-life balance and actively addressing unconscious biases are also crucial components of any strategy aimed at empowering women to thrive in leadership roles.

It is believed that government action yields results. Do you think mandatory quota legislation can help address gender disparity at the workplace?

While government intervention through mandatory quota legislation may appear to offer a solution to gender disparity in the workplace, its effectiveness can be mixed. It's essential to recognise that sustainable change requires more than just meeting quotas; it necessitates comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies that address systemic barriers and foster cultural shifts within organisations. Mandatory quotas shouldn’t lead to tokenism where women are appointed to leadership positions primarily to meet quotas rather than based on merit. While government action can play a role in creating an enabling environment, the focus should ultimately be on creating equitable opportunities and fostering an inclusive workplace culture conducive to the advancement of all individuals, regardless of gender. At SBI General, we are committed to driving positive change and creating an environment where every employee feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential. We commit to being an equal-opportunity employer and believe in investing in leadership development programs to move beyond any quota legislation to address this gender disparity. 

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Topics: Diversity, Culture, #SheMatters

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