Article: Workplace diversity is a strategic advantage – Marico’s CHRO on building a diverse workforce

Diversity

Workplace diversity is a strategic advantage – Marico’s CHRO on building a diverse workforce

Mr. Amit Prakash emphasized that fostering a diverse workforce, which includes individuals with a range of abilities, is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage that enhances our workplace.
Workplace diversity is a strategic advantage – Marico’s CHRO on building a diverse workforce

Human Resources (HR) departments play a crucial role as policy makers, ensuring that organizational policies are crafted and communicated effectively to guide employee behaviour and operations. However, the responsibility for policy execution does not rest solely with HR. Successful implementation requires a collaborative effort from leaders and employees across all levels of the organization. 

Leaders must champion these policies, demonstrating their commitment through actions that align with organizational values. Equally important is the active participation of employees, who play a pivotal role in adhering to and integrating these policies into their daily work routines.

In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Mr. Amit Prakash, CHRO of Marico Limited, highlighted the significance of shared responsibility in policy execution. He emphasized that while HR sets the framework, it is the collective effort of leaders and employees that drives effective policy implementation. 

According to Mr. Prakash, fostering a culture where policies are understood, respected, and upheld requires continuous engagement and alignment of behaviors with organizational values. This inclusive approach not only enhances compliance but also reinforces a culture of accountability and trust within the organization.

Excerpts from the interview: 

1. Could you share Marico's diversity targets for 2024 and the strategies the company is employing to achieve these targets?

For Marico, inclusion and diversity are not mere buzzwords; they are among the key identified drivers steering our organisational culture and growth trajectory. We believe that cultivating a diverse workforce, inclusive of individuals with a range of abilities, is not just a moral imperative but a strategic advantage that enriches our workplace, drives creativity and innovation, enhances our ability to serve our consumers and communities effectively, and makes us more resilient.

As a concrete step in this direction, we have established an Inclusion & Diversity council dedicated to shaping and executing our I&D vision and goals. We focus on three key pillars - Gender, Thought, and Persons with Disabilities. Over the last few years, our I&D council has undertaken focused initiatives on integrating Women in Sales and Persons with Disability to build greater inclusion in specific teams through targeted interventions.

Along with gender representation across our organization, we are proud to have members with disabilities represented across mid-to-senior levels in various functions. To further reinforce our commitment, we have launched 'WINGS,' a program designed to enhance the integration of persons with disabilities. This program fosters a consistent talent pipeline, nurtures individuals internally, and prepares them for managerial roles within key business units. Our focus remains steadfast on creating an inclusive environment through digital inclusion efforts, awareness campaigns, and sensitivity training.

The results are tangible; for instance, we achieved over 50% gender diversity in critical functions such as R&D and Marketing in FY23. Our leadership diversity has steadfastly grown over the last few years to about 28%, which is among the best in the industry. We also measure our inclusion culture through the Inclusion Index, which has been constantly rising over the last few years due to specific interventions aimed at fostering an inclusive culture. The Inclusion Index currently stands at 82. We view this journey as a continuous learning experience, as we strive towards a workplace that champions accessibility, inclusion, and diversity in all its forms.

2. Can you discuss any infrastructural changes or accommodations Marico has implemented to create a more inclusive workplace environment?

In alignment with our People-first philosophy, we continue to accelerate our commitment to foster a more inclusive workplace through targeted policy, program, and infrastructure enhancements. In the last few years, we have made significant strides to ensure that our organization-wide policies, processes, and infrastructure reflect the diverse needs and requirements of our workforce. This includes making all our policies gender-neutral, extending benefits to same-sex partners for individuals identifying across the gender spectrum, and building disability-friendly infrastructure in some of our key sites. These efforts underscore our dedication to creating an environment where every individual feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive.

3. How does Marico attract and recruit diverse talent to ensure a robust pipeline of candidates from varied backgrounds?

We are amplifying equal opportunity for all at Marico, with a focus on localising talent in our overseas units and spearheading initiatives to cultivate a workforce with enhanced ‘Gender’, ‘Differently Abled’, and ‘Thought’ diversity. We actively engage with specialized recruitment agencies to ensure a diverse pool of candidates for every role. We also participate in Pride Forums to support the LGBTQ+ community. In the past year, we've intensified our efforts to raise awareness about the significance of visible Allyship and have concentrated on onboarding passionate individuals across teams and geographies who are dedicated to championing our Inclusion and Diversity goals.

Through our leadership program ‘IGNITE’, we provide holistic learning to the management trainees who undergo cross-functional stints under the close guidance of the leadership. To diversify our talent pipeline, we continually expand our list of campuses and partner with specialized recruitment partners to identify and hire differently-abled candidates.

Our second career program, 'Phoenix', stands out as one of the industry's few gender-neutral initiatives, aimed at recruiting individuals who are returning to the workforce after career breaks. To foster a culture of transparency and inclusivity, we diligently monitor the integrity of our talent processes, ensuring a sense of quality, openness, and belongingness within our organization. We have also introduced an AI-based recruitment platform to enable a one-stop solution for hiring processes and further sharpen our hiring processes. We also focus on building the capability of our recruiting managers through an internal certification process on Inclusive Hiring.

4. How does Marico engage with employees to solicit feedback and ensure that their voices are heard regarding diversity and inclusion matters?

We continuously foster regular and open two-way communication between our team members and leadership through avenues such as Townhalls, Facetimes, and Organization Communication events. In line with our member-first philosophy, member engagement has been at the top of our agenda. Recognizing the pivotal link between member engagement, attrition rates, and business performance, we've empowered supervisors with comprehensive visibility and accountability over their team's engagement levels.

Transitioning from annual HR-led engagement surveys, we now leverage a Stanford research-backed global Engagement Platform—Glint by LinkedIn—for quarterly supervisor-led pulses. Over 85% of our supervisors actively utilize Glint to monitor insights and drive their team's engagement. In addition, we conduct frequent monthly pulses with our field forces to ensure high engagement and business performance. This concerted effort has yielded consistent results, reflected in our impressive member engagement score of 86 throughout the year—exceeding the global benchmark by 6 points.

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5. How does Marico ensure that these programs are accessible and effective for employees at all levels of the organization?

In our commitment to uphold our I&D vision, we have established the Inclusion & Diversity council to oversee and govern our I&D initiatives. Led by Saugata Gupta, MD & CEO of Marico Limited, the council comprises senior leaders from various Marico geographies, with an external member acting as a consultant. To gauge the experiences of our team members both within our organization and in third-party interactions, we conduct an Inclusion survey. This survey serves as a vital tool for identifying challenges, issues, and areas for improvement, enabling us to drive targeted sensitization efforts. We also track the Inclusion Index on a quarterly basis. It is a measure of our inclusion culture as experienced by our members.

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Topics: Diversity, Strategic HR, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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