Naivedya Agarwal is the Co-Founder and CEO at Runaya Group, where he leads the Manufacturing Technologies vertical. As an advocate and a firm believer in technology and innovation leading to business growth, Naivedya drives the digitisation journey and strategic growth roadmap for Runaya. Before founding Runaya, Naivedya also worked with organisations such as Boston Consulting Group, JP Morgan, and Vedanta Resources, where he was Vice President-Business Development at Hindustan Zinc. In conversation with People Matters, he shares their approach to the DEI agenda and how enterprises can achieve a sustainable, meaningful difference in their work culture.
What are your top three DEI priorities for 2022?
At Runaya, we celebrate the uniqueness of every individual by fostering an environment of inclusion and empowerment, leveraging our diverse Human Resources to allow everyone to participate, contribute, and grow holistically and ultimately deliver sustainable competitive advantages. We have developed the following aspirational targets to guide our journey and demonstrate our commitment:
- Create an inclusive culture where all employees have a sense of belonging and equitable opportunities to realise their potential
- Achieve balanced gender representation across managerial levels, with 65% Gender Diversity, including in operational roles, and 40% at the leadership level.
- While gender is one dimension of diversity, other aspects include race, nationality, disability, and sexual orientation. To address this, we have taken targets to include 1% specially-abled, 2% LGBTQ workforce, a healthy geo-mix, and hiring people from the North East states and J&K and economically underprivileged backgrounds.
How are you at Runaya strengthening the culture of inclusion at the workplace? What are some ways you interweave DEI into your overall employee lifecycle?
Our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is supported by a range of policies that further encourage inclusive business practices, such as:
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy: We are committed to a merit-based appointment process to achieve our business objectives. We have policies and practices that enable employees to access all opportunities with the organisation fairly and equitably. We have the best-in-class tools and practices to ensure that we can access the broadest pool of diverse candidates, in keeping with our commitment to merit-based employment.
Employee Code of Conduct: We envision creating an environment free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination and supporting and maintaining a healthy and safe workplace.
Business Code of Conduct: Runaya is committed to complying with its legal obligations and acting ethically and responsibly. Our Code of Conduct sets out the standards of behaviour and is applied to all Runaya employees, contractors, and consultants.
Flexible Workplace Arrangements: We have always advocated for our employees to maintain a healthy balance between work, domestic responsibilities, and other commitments. Hence, we offer a flexible work arrangement to accommodate employee needs.
Leave Policies: Keeping in mind our vision of being employee-centric, Runaya employees are entitled to have appropriate options for taking time off work, which includes family and medical leave, personal leave, and parental leave. We have always believed in taking care of our employees and their families, which we believe plays a crucial role in bringing products to the table.
Vendor/Business Partner Selection: Runaya is committed to being an excellent partner and mentor, consistent with our desire to lead with Technology and best serve our customers. We require all vendors and partners to uphold the same level of integrity in business practice standards that Runaya does.
What is the role of technology in accelerating the DEI agenda? How do you see digital interventions impacting DEI in the workplace?
By implementing improved productivity software, we have significantly enhanced our work environment for employees, particularly around recruitment, employee training, communication, and wellbeing. Some technology integration that we have done to ensure this is as below:
Virtual Training to Disrupt Discrimination: We have introduced internal DEI development program courses, which include specific training aimed at tackling unconscious bias and other initiatives focusing on the importance of diversity and inclusion
Anonymous Feedback Mechanism: Technology allows us to create an open, honest, anonymous feedback mechanism. Managers then have the right inputs to make business and HR decisions.
In addition, using Best in Class Tools such as Design Thinking and Open Space Technology through the active involvement of top management and key leaders can also create an impact.
What advice would you like to share with our community on steering clear of tokenism in their hiring and cultural transformation agenda?
We believe that organisations implementing sustainable D&I strategies can achieve meaningful results. It is a proven fact that organisations that have delivered sustainable improved performance, including around revenue generation, employee retention and employee engagement, through implementing diversity first HR strategy. This can be done through:
- Focus on employees: Determine specific organisational and employee challenges, design the relevant D&I strategy, and then communicate this at all levels of the organisation to promote deep adoption.
- Data-Centric Approach: Use data to track specific gaps in fair treatment of employees, decision making, trust and diversity to tailor different programs to different business areas. We are tracking different initiatives across different shareholders to understand what works for different levels of the organisation.
- Embed D&I into existing talent and business processes: Talent management processes such as succession planning, recruiting, and performance management are some of the most susceptible to bias and hence should be the starting point for embedding D&I to create long-term value around collaboration, innovation and growth.