Article: Leading with impact: Mitun Chakraborty's strategy for building a skilled and diverse workforce

Learning & Development

Leading with impact: Mitun Chakraborty's strategy for building a skilled and diverse workforce

In conversation with Mitun Chakraborty of Carelon Global Solutions, we explore how organisations can foster growth, drive innovation, and build an inclusive workplace culture.
Leading with impact: Mitun Chakraborty's strategy for building a skilled and diverse workforce

Mitun Chakraborty is the Director of Talent Management (L&D and DEI) at Carelon Global Solutions. With over two decades of experience in talent management and a commitment to making workplaces inclusive, Mitun brings a wealth of insights into fostering growth, supporting diversity, and building a skilled workforce. In this exclusive interview, we will have practical insights from Mitun's experiences, emphasising the crucial intersection of Learning and Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in fostering a holistic and inclusive workplace culture.

Here are some key excerpts from the conversation.

Could you share the philosophy and approach of Carelon Global Solutions towards Learning and Development? How does the organisation prioritise employee skill enhancement and career development?

At Carelon Global Solutions, our approach to learning and development is deeply rooted in our belief that people and technology are at the heart of our organisation's success. We understand that it's our talented workforce that drives technological innovation within our company. Therefore, hiring the right talent is paramount. However, we also recognise that the niche skills needed for success are constantly evolving alongside advancements in technology.

To ensure our team remains competitive and adaptable, we prioritise continuous upskilling and reskilling initiatives. This means providing our employees with the necessary training to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry landscape.

Our learning and development team plays a crucial role in our talent strategy. They focus on providing technical, domain, behavioural, and leadership training to our Associates.

We understand that it's not just about having the technical know-how but also about embodying our organisational culture and values. Therefore, we place equal importance on nurturing both technical expertise and cultural alignment within our workforce. Leadership development is also a key priority for us. As a relatively young organisation, we've invested heavily in creating structured leadership development initiatives. This ensures we have a strong leadership pipeline in place to drive our company forward and sustain our growth trajectory. We have a structured business planning team dedicated to talent enablement and pipeline creation, ensuring we have the right people in place for current and future projects.

What innovative learning initiatives or programs has Carelon Global Solutions implemented to adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce? How does the organisation measure the effectiveness of its learning programs and initiatives?

We've implemented a range of innovative learning initiatives to adapt to the evolving needs of our workforce, particularly in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we initially relied on traditional in-person training sessions due to our smaller headcount, we transitioned to virtual learning during the COVID-19 years. With a significant increase in our workforce, our focus last year was to scale up our learning offerings through associate’s learning-style-centric methodologies and create hyper-personalised learning journeys. 

We understand the importance of offering various learning methodologies to suit the preferences of our employees. This includes traditional classroom learning, both within our company and through partnerships with esteemed institutes like ISB, and IIM. Additionally, we've embraced virtual learning through platforms, allowing for flexible participation from anywhere in the world. Our self-paced learning approach enables employees to learn on the go, whether during a commute or between tasks, ensuring continuous development without disrupting their schedules.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of our learning programs, we adopt a multifaceted approach. For technology-related skills, the ROI is relatively straightforward - if an employee transitions from Java to Cloud Architect, their ability to secure roles or contribute to relevant projects serves as instant validation of our investment. For domain knowledge and behavioural competencies, we assess employee performance against predefined goals and behavioural competencies. By tracking the needle movement in behaviours at various organisational levels, we can attribute some of the progress to our learning and development efforts.

Additionally, we continuously monitor the career growth and development of our employees who have undergone specialised programmes. Retention rates, career progression, and succession slate fulfilment are key parameters we use to gauge the impact of our learning initiatives. As we transition to digital platforms, we anticipate even greater visibility into individual progress, enabling us to tailor learning experiences more effectively.

Could you provide insights into the "Belong" diversity program at Carelon Global Solutions? How does it support the organisation's commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion?

Belong isn't just a program with a set timeline – it's ingrained in our organisational culture. It's about fostering an environment where diversity and inclusion thrive organically. While we already pride ourselves on having an open and inclusive culture, we recognise the need for continuous growth and sustainability. Belong serves as a strategic initiative to drive focus and momentum in this direction, embedding diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our organisation for the long term.

Under the Belong umbrella, we've structured our efforts around four key pillars: diversity, equity, inclusion, and wellness.

Diversity is about embracing and celebrating differences across various dimensions. It's not just about gender diversity but also includes talent from LGBTQ communities, individuals with disabilities, veterans from the armed forces, and even those from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. We also acknowledge regional and industry diversity, bringing in perspectives from different geographical locations and sectors beyond healthcare.

Inclusion is fundamental to our goals. It's about ensuring that our policies, processes, and facilities are designed inclusively to accommodate the diverse needs of our workforce. For instance, we want to prioritise digital accessibility to ensure that everyone, including those with visual or hearing impairments, can fully participate in our digital interactions. Achieving true inclusion requires a shift in mindset and behaviour at all levels of the organisation.

Equity, on the other hand, goes beyond equality. It's about providing equitable opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds and ensuring fairness in our policies and practices. This entails a deep dive into our organisational structures to identify and address systemic barriers that may hinder the advancement of certain groups.

Wellness is integral to our culture. In a fast-paced environment, we emphasise the concept of work-life integration rather than balance. This means supporting employees in integrating work responsibilities with personal well-being, whether it's through flexible work arrangements or promoting psychological safety in the workplace.

Our approach to Belong isn't driven solely by HR initiatives. Instead, we've established five employee-driven business resource groups, including ‘Enable’ for disability advocacy, ‘Pride’ for LGBTQ+ inclusion, and Women's Inspired Network for gender diversity. These groups play a crucial role in driving our diversity and inclusion agenda, ensuring that it's deeply rooted in the experiences and perspectives of our employees.

Unconscious bias can impede DEI efforts. How does Carelon Global Solutions address unconscious bias in its hiring, promotion, and talent development processes?

While biases may be deeply rooted and sometimes even present within individuals working in the DEI sector, our approach focuses on recognising and mitigating biases rather than eradicating them entirely. We understand that biases may exist, but the goal is to ensure they don't influence decision-making processes.

In our hiring practices, we actively work to reduce unconscious biases. For instance, we encourage our hiring managers to undergo training sessions each time a position opens up. These sessions emphasise the importance of diversity and inclusion, challenging managers to consider candidates beyond their alma mater or region of origin. Additionally, our leadership programmes incorporate modules on unconscious bias, reinforcing our commitment to fostering an inclusive culture at all levels of the organisation.

Looking ahead, we're launching micro-learning modules that touch upon diversity and inclusion topics. These bite-sized modules serve as quick educational tools, ensuring that every employee, regardless of tenure, remains engaged and informed about our DEI initiatives. Furthermore, our communication efforts around Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policies have been instrumental in promoting gender-neutral practices and addressing biases within our workforce.

Within our talent management processes, we take proactive measures to mitigate biases in performance evaluations and promotions. We analyse performance ratings across different demographic groups, including gender, disability status, and LGBTQ+ identification. This allows us to identify any discrepancies and address potential biases that may impact promotion decisions. We ensure that promotions are based solely on competency and performance, avoiding any unjust disparities based on demographic factors.

How do DEI initiatives contribute to enhancing employee engagement and retention at Carelon Global Solutions? Are there specific examples of how a diverse and inclusive culture positively impacts employee morale and performance?

At Carelon Global Solutions, our approach to DEI is driven by a fundamental belief in the importance of authentic representation. We recognise that true change can only be brought about by individuals who have lived experiences within diverse communities. That's why our DEI initiatives are not just led by HR but are deeply integrated with our diverse talent pools. For instance, our Women Inspired Network is led by women talent, ensuring that initiatives are grounded in the experiences and needs of women within our organisation. Similarly, our DEI team comprises individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from disability and LGBTQ+ communities, ensuring that policies and processes are developed through the lens of inclusivity.

One significant example of this approach in action is evident in our facilities across Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Gurgaon. Our facilities head, who has extensive experience in accessibility laws, collaborated with talent with disabilities to ensure that our facilities are not just compliant with government norms but are truly accessible to individuals with disabilities. We have initiated work where this commitment to accessibility extends beyond physical spaces to digital accessibility as well, with a focus on aligning with stringent accessibility laws to create an inclusive work environment for all. 

Sensitisation plays a crucial role in fostering a culture of openness and understanding within our organisation. Talents who have come out as LGBTQ+ have bravely shared their experiences in larger forums, sparking meaningful discussions and increasing awareness across the organisation. Over the years, we've witnessed a significant shift from hesitancy to openness in discussing LGBTQ+ issues, with more employees feeling comfortable sharing their identities and engaging in dialogue about inclusion. While not all 18,000 employees may be actively participating, the progress we've made is undeniable and speaks to the positive impact of our DEI initiatives.

Looking ahead, could you share your vision for the future of L&D and DEI at Carelon Global Solutions? Additionally, any advice for HR professionals aiming to strengthen L&D and DEI efforts within their organisations?

As we look towards the future, my vision for L&D centres around creating a truly learner-centric environment. In 2024 and beyond, our priority is to offer diverse learning methodologies and modules that cater to the individual needs of every employee. This means moving away from traditional classroom-based training to provide a plethora of alternative learning options. Technology will play a crucial role in this transformation, enabling us to deliver sustainable and accessible learning experiences to our workforce. Additionally, standardising learning across all Carelon locations is paramount to ensuring alignment and achieving our overarching vision.

From a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) standpoint, authenticity is key. While there's a lot of talk in the industry about DEI initiatives, our focus is on building a solid foundation rooted in authenticity. Our goal is for our people to lead the conversation, showcasing our commitment to diversity through our structures, policies, and systems. By creating an environment where talent from diverse backgrounds not only joins us but thrives and advocates for us, we aim to foster a truly inclusive culture.

For HR professionals looking to strengthen their L&D and DEI efforts, my advice is to prioritise collaboration and partnerships. While many organisations are already making strides in these areas, there's immense value in partnering with academia to groom future talent.

Collaborating with educational institutions can help bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world skills, ensuring a pipeline of skilled individuals ready to contribute to the workforce.

Additionally, when it comes to diversity, particularly in hiring individuals with disabilities, it's crucial for all stakeholders – including government bodies, academia, and industry – to come together and address barriers to employment. By working collectively, we can create more inclusive opportunities for all individuals, thus enriching our organisations and society as a whole.

Read full story

Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership, Diversity, #Culture, #Hiring, #HRCommunity

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?