Apart from making good fortune, businesses that are inclined towards acting in the best interests of society carry an outstanding reputation among the community. Their names can deeply ingrain in the minds of people, which can impact on their decisions. Lately, the word Diversity & Inclusion is gaining traction, and the business eco-system in India is taking baby steps towards it. But why do businesses have to include D&I in their workplace? Does the concept of D&I only mean that companies need to act out of sympathy or to stay relevant?
To discuss this, we hosted a webinar with industry stalwarts Meera Shenoy (Founder of Youth4Jobs), S.Rajagopal (HR at RSIMPL), who spoke with the host Swati Agarwal (Founding GM at SVP Hyderabad). The trio has had crucial discussions around D&I and experiences while driving the mission.
We have summarized the key takeaways from the session for you below:
Backstory: S.Rajagopal is an accomplished HR Professional currently associated with Foxconn (Rising Star India Mobile Pvt Limited). Being driven by the vision to hire PwDs, Rajagopal connected with Youth4Jobs, where he met Meera Shenoy. Through Youth4Jobs, Rajagopal and his team hired 75+ people for his organization and continued the association since then. Rajagopal and Meera Shenoy have come together to share their experience and examples for the SMEs that want to take steps towards inclusion.
Diversity & Inclusion Is Instrumental For Success
According to Rajagopal, the PwDs workforce is committed, and there’s no under-performance from them. “Attrition and absenteeism have gone low, which are the key KPIs. This overall makes a lot of business sense. When everything is in line to your goals, then what else do you need?”.
Talking about disability, Meera had said that hiring PwDs is a social mandate for private sectors. “As Rajagopal said, it has helped Foxconn to bring down the Attrition and improved productivity, which are the important factors for a business. Companies who hire PwDs tell that it makes their organization a great place to work because people feel that their company is doing something apart from selling something,” said Meera. She brought up the fact from the studies that there is a cross-fertilization of ideas between disabled and non-disabled, resulting in a lot of creativity.
Sensitization Of Employees
Meera and Rajagopal had suggested a few practices for the HR community towards sensitizing the employees. About HR professionals, Meera said that they are perfect triggers in this area, and they can take baby steps to sensitize their employees. “You can ask your employees to do an act of kindness every second Tuesday of the month and showcase the best act on the board” said Meera. She then continued saying that simple steps can create an eco-sphere and allow combining business with compassion.
On the other hand, Rajagopal insisted on understanding PwDs’ will and appreciate them. He said that they don’t need sympathy but support wherever possible. “Encourage your employees to volunteer as they are your ambassadors, and they will bring better people and business inside. Eventually, this will get ingrained in them and automatically get sensitized” said Rajagopal on his experience in sensitizing employees.
Four Essential Lessons From Meera Shenoy
From her experience of working with Foxconn, Meera shared four essential lessons. One was to have ownership at the CEO level which is crucial for any company. Meera continued by saying, “The second one is to have people who believe in the work like Rajagopal and can work with people around who are hesitant to do something new.” Likewise, they can bring the cynics on to the same space and can make things happen. Meera outlined that both sides should have an open heart and go beyond the roles to support the process and vision. In the last lesson that Meera divulged is that these initiatives are to be spoken on the forums. Recollecting an incident, Meera said “When I was invited to the UN, I took Ramesh (Director of Valeo) with me to speak. That was voted as the best case study in the entire Europe and US community. I’m sure our relationship with a company like Foxconn will not only help open up a large number of jobs in the company but also talk about it and make sure that the vulnerable youth get many jobs in Telecom Assembly and Manufacturing Industry”.
To learn more about D&I do watch the session below. Also, do follow our social media for updates on our upcoming webinar in which we will host a prominent CHRO and his/her story.