Article: Prioritise empathy: Metropolis Healthcare’s CPO shares their strategy to inspire inclusion

Leadership

Prioritise empathy: Metropolis Healthcare’s CPO shares their strategy to inspire inclusion

In this interview with Ishita Medhekar of Metropolis Healthcare, gain insights on leveraging technology for gender equality, addressing unconscious biases, and promoting women's leadership.
Prioritise empathy: Metropolis Healthcare’s CPO shares their strategy to inspire inclusion

As the Chief People Officer at Metropolis Healthcare Ltd., Ishita Medhekar brings over 20 years of diverse HR experience from esteemed institutions like Tata Telecom, Bharti Airtel, and Sterlite Power. Recognised as the 'Leader of the Year 22-23' by The Economic Times HR Summit 2023 and the 'Women Leader of the Organization' at the Women Empowerment & GIWL Awards 2023, Ishita has played a pivotal role in introducing groundbreaking initiatives at the organisation. 

Through this interview, we will delve deeper into the significance of promoting women's leadership, addressing unconscious biases, and the role of various initiatives in fostering gender equality.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

In your role as Chief People Officer at Metropolis Healthcare, how do you see technology and innovation serving as enablers of gender equality, especially in a rapidly evolving healthcare industry?

Technology and innovation are pivotal catalysts for advancing gender equality within the healthcare landscape. Leveraging technology facilitates the implementation of unbiased recruitment practices, ensuring equal opportunities for all genders. Innovative tools like AI-powered algorithms can help identify and eliminate unconscious biases in performance evaluations and promotions, fostering a more equitable workplace culture.

Moreover, technology enables flexible work arrangements, allowing individuals to balance professional and personal responsibilities more effectively, thereby breaking down traditional gender roles. Collaborative platforms and virtual networking opportunities also amplify the voices of women in leadership, promoting their visibility and influence within the organisation.

By embracing technological advancements and fostering innovation, we not only enhance operational efficiencies but also create an inclusive environment where diversity thrives, ultimately moving towards a future of gender equality and empowerment.

Metropolis Healthcare has a notable focus on diversity and inclusion. Can you elaborate on what 'Inspire Inclusion' means at the workplace and the positive outcomes it has generated within the organisation?

'Inspire Inclusion' focuses on our commitment to creating an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. This initiative goes beyond mere representation to actively promote diversity of thought, background, and experience. By championing inclusive policies and practices, such as unbiased hiring processes, diversity training, and supportive mentorship programs, we've cultivated a culture where everyone has an equal opportunity to excel.

The positive outcomes of 'Inspire Inclusion' are profound, evident in increased employee engagement, enhanced innovation, and strengthened collaboration across teams. Employees feel a stronger sense of belonging, leading to higher retention rates and greater productivity. Moreover, diverse viewpoints enable us to better understand and serve our diverse customer base, driving business growth and solidifying our position as a leader in the healthcare industry.

You have recently launched 'The Full Circle – Career 2.0 for Women'. Can you share insights into this initiative and its impact on women employees' career progression within the organisation?

The launch of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiative ‘The Full Circle – Career 2.0 for Women’, represents the pioneering effort within the Indian diagnostic industry. This unique initiative aims to support and empower women who have taken a break from their careers and are now looking forward to restarting them.

The overarching goal of this initiative for Metropolis is to increase the size of the women's talent pool and to remove the taboo of taking breaks for being just a caregiver in society. 

This program is open to applicants across the country for various roles such as pathologists, doctors, technicians, HR, marketing, sales, and a few others. The differentiating factor of this DE&I initiative in the industry is the provision of flexible work options such as work-from-home (WFH), Hybrid, Part-time, Full-time, Hourly or Project basis, which will enable the women professionals to balance their personal and professional responsibilities comfortably. Candidates from any work background are encouraged to apply for this program, wherein Metropolis will assess their qualifications and match them with suitable job openings within the company based on their availability and requirements.

Through tailored resources, mentorship opportunities, and skill development initiatives, the initiative empowers women employees, facilitating their career progression within our organisation. We have observed remarkable results, including increased retention rates and enhanced representation of women in leadership positions.

Aligned with our broader ESG Agenda, we are committed to achieving gender balance at all levels within the company in the next three years. Our DE&I program continually evolves, aiming to support diverse talent and challenge gender stereotypes in the industry. By fostering inclusivity and acceptance, we aspire to inspire more women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields and empower the next generation of female leaders.

Unconscious biases can be barriers to diversity and achieving gender equality at the workplace. As a leader, what unconscious biases should organisations and leaders be aware of, and how can they address them effectively?

At Metropolis Healthcare, addressing unconscious biases is a top priority in our journey towards diversity and gender equality. Both organisations and leaders are aware of biases such as confirmation bias, which emphasises fixed beliefs, and affinity bias, which leads people to be drawn toward others who are similar to them.

To address these biases effectively, increasing awareness through education and training is important. Providing unconscious bias training for all employees, implementing diverse hiring practices, and establishing accountability mechanisms will help mitigate the biases in decision-making processes. Additionally, creating a culture of open dialogue encourages employees to challenge assumptions and perspectives, increasing inclusivity and understanding.

By acknowledging and actively combating unconscious biases, organisations not only create a fair and more equitable workplace but also harness the full potential of their diverse workforce, driving innovation and success.

Metropolis Healthcare has achieved commendable diversity metrics. What specific initiatives has the organisation undertaken to reach and maintain these levels of diversity?

Metropolis Healthcare is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation. Our initiatives are designed to ensure that women have equal opportunities for growth and advancement. Specifically, we've implemented dynamic hiring strategies, gender-neutral policies, and programs like 'Career 2.0' for women restarting their careers. Our focus on building a safe work environment, flexible work options, and merit-based promotions further supports gender diversity. Additionally, continuous training on the prevention of sexual harassment and awareness sessions reinforces our commitment to women's safety and well-being. 

These efforts have led to commendable diversity metrics, with 42% representation of women at the Junior level, 41% at the Middle level, and 26% at the Senior level.

Through ongoing initiatives and a steadfast commitment to equality, we aim to further enhance diversity and inclusivity across all levels of Metropolis Healthcare.

If there's one actionable piece of advice or a call to action you'd like to leave with our readers, what would that be? How can HR professionals contribute to creating more inclusive workplaces in their respective organisations?

My actionable advice for creating more inclusive workplaces is simple yet powerful: prioritise empathy. HR professionals can lead by example, fostering a culture of empathy where every individual feels heard, understood, and valued. Actively listen to employees' experiences, perspectives, and concerns, and take meaningful action to address them. Empathy drives connection, collaboration, and understanding, ultimately breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity at all levels of the organisation. 

By advocating empathy in our interactions, policies, and practices, HR professionals can create environments where diversity thrives, and every employee feels a sense of belonging and acceptance. Together, we can cultivate workplaces where empathy leads, and inclusivity flourishes.

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Topics: Leadership, #Culture, Diversity, Talent Acquisition, #HRCommunity

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