5 Qs With TVS Motor’s R Anandakrishnan On Building An Inclusive Work-Culture

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In this era of constant uncertainty, HR Leaders are on the way to scrutinize and reevaluate their strategies in order to thrive in the new normal. While HR leaders are reshaping other policies and plans; is it high time to bring D&I at the centre of focus too?

In an exclusive interaction with R AnandaKrishnan, Executive Vice President – HR and IT, TVS Motor Company shares his viewpoint as to how they are leading the transformation of culture to be more inclusive in nature to cater to a diverse spectrum of the workforce? What active initiatives are they working on in regards to their D&I agenda?
 
1. Has the way forward for D & I changed in your industry? What are the measures taken to improve gender equity at the workplace?

The manufacturing sector is one of the biggest employment generators in the country. To address the looming talent shortage and foster innovation, organisations have stepped up to recruit and retain a more diverse talent pool. HR teams have implemented a wide range of programmes to achieve equal representation of women and equipped the workforce with the skills needed to bring disruptive ideas to the table. Companies are also integrating diversity and inclusivity across levels to create a wholesome pool of resources. They have gradually started demonstrating the diversity of thought, identities, gender, race, age, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, talent, and background.

2. How are you creating awareness around D&I in your organisation? Take us through the initiatives and programme that you run towards making an inclusive and diverse culture at workplace?

Creating a diverse & inclusive workplace has been the top priority at TVS Motor Company. Over the years, we have taken necessary steps to enable infrastructure, reinforce more safety at the workplace, streamline career progression plans, host well-being programmes, and bring flexibility in various aspects at the workplace to ensure an inclusive and diverse workplace.

We have platforms such as ‘Beyond Prism’ and ‘Flying Lessons’ for Leadership Development among women at mid-level management and focus on building an unbiased ecosystem. Our forum ‘Women Resource Group’ acts as an informal discussion platform to address grievances.

TVS Motor Company’s maternity and paternity benefits policy, including adoption benefits, illustrates a deep commitment to being an equal opportunity employer. Being a ‘gender-neutral’ policy ensures that the primary caregiver, irrespective of gender, is eligible for paid leaves. The company provides maternity leave with pay for 30 weeks and personal assistance and flexible work arrangements, post joining in line with the ‘Flexi Time Programme’. Furthermore, we have set up an on-campus professionally managed creche.

The ‘Employee Health and Well-being Programme’ through well-equipped Occupational Health Centres ensures round the clock support for physical, psychological, prenatal or postpartum requirements. Regular workshops are undertaken for sensitisation of the workforce on the policy of sexual harassment at the workplace. The company has also introduced an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to address anxiety, mental health and well-being.

We have introduced the second career opportunity for women called ‘Unnati’. The programme focuses on ensuring a progressive career for women who return from a sabbatical through a smoother, faster and efficient onboarding process. To take our commitment towards our D&I goals one step further, we have brought on board differently-abled trainees with hearing and speech impairment.

3. What, according to you, are the most prominent challenges organisations have to overcome while implementing a D&I strategy?

Over the years, despite challenges, we have made significant progress in creating an inclusive ecosystem. However, there are specific barriers that need to be patiently and effectively tackled. To address the most common hindrance to D&I ‘unconscious bias’ among the workforce, we have rolled out focused programmes to help dispel this and made them mandatory for managers. Another barrier comes from a ‘lack of awareness’ of the policies, which is overcome by consistent communication through various channels and continuous monitoring of the usage. Finally, ‘inclusion’ is not a roadblock but needs to be continuously fostered when employees from across regions, global nationalities, gender, PwD, veterans etc. We continue to work on this through inclusion workshops, policies, guidelines, comprehensive evaluations as a part of our endeavour to make every employee feel valued.

4. What active measures has your organisation undertaken to seek a diverse talent pool when hiring?

We at TVS Motor Company believe that diversity & inclusivity is a continued commitment. Our HR team has designed focused initiatives to recruit and retain a more extensive and more varied candidate pool, driving creativity and innovation at work. On the recruitment front, we have taken proactive steps to ensure pay parity and career development opportunities. Career progression and sponsorship for higher education are consciously monitored to include proportionate or higher representation of women. In our manufacturing facility, the engine assembly line is operated with 90% of women employees. Our efforts have won us prestigious accolades such as, “Best Organisation for Women Empowerment” award at the Great Indian Women in Leadership Summit in 2019 and the “Best Companies for Women in India” Award at BCWI, Avtar & Working Mothers forum in 2020.

5. What would be your top priorities to accelerate Diversity & Inclusivity in the new normal while preparing HR strategies for the future?

Enhance Inclusion of Women in the Workforce: Our key priorities for D&I in FY 2021-22 will be to continue with the drive to enhance the participation of women in the workforce at TVS Motor Company. Today, we have over 15% of women in the workforce. In FY 2021-22, our target is to increase it to 25%.

Women Leadership Development: Focus on Women Leadership Development and have more women leaders in various roles. Currently, we are grooming women through classroom training with professional coaches and mentors among senior leadership. While these women take challenging on-the-job assignments, we will continue to groom emerging women leaders each year.

‘Unnati’: We are working towards onboarding women back to the workforce through our Second Career for Women Programme, ‘Unnati’ for women who may have taken a sabbatical from work for a period of time.

Persons with Disability (PwD) programme: To further add value to our inclusion efforts, we have introduced the ‘Persons with Disability (PwD)’ focused programme. As a first step, we have modified our infrastructure to make it compatible. All employees undergo the ‘Inclusion and Sensitisation Workshop’ and ‘Basic Sign Language Workshop’ to ensure a seamless transition. We have also included PWD as a part of our hiring program.

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