Serein

Diversity Doesn’t Stop At Hiring, It Needs To Be Nurtured Constantly

Archana Venkat

- April 12, 2017

Over the last few years, corporate India’s diversity agenda appears to be focused on how to get more women into mid and senior management roles. Unfortunately, the efforts to keep them in those positions appear to be restricted to rolling out a bunch of policies – flexi working hours, safe travel arrangements, generous leaves, and care facilities such as health check-ups, and child care options. The result? Most women don’t end up using these options available to them for fear of being singled out as having special needs and consequently being denied promotion and hike in the future.

survey by People Matters and TCS indicated that the top three things that women wanted at the workplace was access to leadership development programs, mentoring and gender sensitization workshops for their managers. Benefits such as flexi working hours and internal women forums were seen as relatively unimportant to women employees.

Unfortunately, what women employees want cannot be provided via policies on a platter, but only via business change. Efforts need to be put in the area of nurturing women employees, not merely throwing them in the deep end of the pool and expecting them to swim after a weeklong masterclass. I would like to share an example of my friend and colleague who built a diverse team – gender diverse, as well as diverse in educational and socio-economic backgrounds – over three years without leveraging any such special policies and has seen business growth and near zero attrition. Here is what she did.

RECRUITMENT 

A sense of humour is what she looked for in candidates, besides their qualifications and the ability to get the job done. She consciously interviewed candidates with backgrounds different from her. For every male candidate, she interviewed two female candidates in the hope that at least one would be hired. While the interview process was lengthy and she faced flak from the senior management on the “delay” in hiring, she continued undeterred.

TALENT MANAGEMENT

Having hired a team of 25 people, she was extremely conscious of the need to ensure they felt connected to one another and socially secure within the office. Informal pranks to lighten the seriousness of the office environment, creating a confidential WhatsApp group to gauge sentiments on work and leadership, and team lunches every two-three weeks during office hours (not billed to the company, but paid for by herself and eventually going dutch on the team’s insistence), helped build rapport and understand team members and their passions outside work. She discovered dog lovers, foodies (Non-Veg Biryani lovers actually), rock music followers, gallivanters, fashionistas, and financial planners within the team.

The team then connected with each other wonderfully. Collaboration flourished during work and friendship outside work. Now, whenever there is a special occasion at anyone’s home, food (sweets and savouries mostly) is brought to office to be shared with the team. I have personally sampled Chandigarh gajak, Christmas plum cake, gujarati aam shrikhand and chocolate khakra, south indian murukku, Jaipuri pyaaz kachori, and Tuticorin Macaroons. 

I am aware that this is possible because the team comprises of largely unmarried people, including my friend, the manager. But by ensuring that fun activities happen during work hours, those with other commitments post work (such as me), also feel part of the team.

CAREER BUILDING SUPPORT 

On assignments, the team feels safe voicing concerns because they know their manager will represent them. Where concerns appear unfounded, she has investigated the root cause and attempted to solve them. How does she deal with jealousy and ambitions among team members? By speaking to them one on one or otherwise and setting expectations right. For example, while a large number of employees in other locations were getting promoted out of turn, she set expectations right by insisting why a two year promotion cycle was more beneficial in the longer term. Further, she went on to nominate only those candidates whose chances of out of turn promotion were high. While some team members resented this, they eventually saw for themselves how the newly promoted lot was struggling to cope with the workload, haven’t been prepared for it.

These examples may appear to indicate a utopian scenario to some readers, however, the reality is that it takes time to understand what people value and nurture them in line with those values. There were a few team members who left the organization for better prospects. However, they continue to be part of the group and meet frequently and continue the relationship they had built over the years.

Perhaps corporate India needs to re-think on these lines to action their diversity agenda, rather than undertaking token measures.

About the Author

Archana is a Marketing leader and mother of two. Views expressed are personal. 

LinkedIn. Twitter @archvenkat

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Abhishek Ghattamaneni

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Abhishek is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in finance and corporate governance. With over 15 years of expertise as a qualified Company Secretary, he has made significant contributions to the finance departments of companies within the real estate and startup sectors.
 
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Rhea creates animated content for Serein’s learning platform. She is focused on understanding the user’s need for engagement and learning to create impactful content. 

Rhea holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai where she majored in advertising.

Dr. Ishani Roy

Founder and CEO

Ishani founded Serein to provide a data and research-based approach to solving DEI challenges at the workplace. She advises company leaders, startup founders, and venture capital firms on industry best practices to increase diversity and design a DEI roadmap.

Ishani is a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2023 for the global impact of her work in the DEI space.

Before founding Serein, Ishani was a scientist at GE Research working in the Aerospace Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University on developing mathematical models to solve Astrophysics problems. She did her Post-doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and St. Thomas Hospital in Biomathematics.

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Chryslynn leads the product development of Serein’s DEI SaaS tool. She designs learning content and strategic insights for companies to measure their DEI growth, and achieve bias-free recruitment and psychological safety.

Chryslynn is a regular columnist with publications like ‘LiveMint’ and ‘The Hindu’ where she writes about unconscious bias, prevention of sexual harassment, and company culture.

Before Serein, she was a Gandhi Fellow working in rural Rajasthan to address educational leadership and gender equity in government schools. She graduated from Azim Premji University in Bangalore with a Master’s in Education where she specialised in gender and sexuality education.

Bianca D’Costa

Head of PoSH: India, Global

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Bianca designs gamified learning modules for a unique and impactful learner experience on topics like gender inclusion, PwD inclusion, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and regional inclusion among others. 

Before Serein, Bianca worked in hospitality for 5 years with Emirates Airlines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics from SOAS University of London.

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She works closely with Serein’s 500+ long-term partners to ensure they are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law. Aparna is a workshop facilitator on topics like the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Aparna Pandurangan holds a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. 

Faakirah Irfan

Head of Legal

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She has 150+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace. Her legal research at Serein includes policy analysis, human rights, women’s rights, and document drafting.

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Guest Consultant: Gender

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Ruchika is a published author with books like ‘Concubinage, Race and Law in Early Colonial Bengal: Bequeathing Intimacy, Servicing the Empire’ published by Routledge, Taylor, and Francis publications. She has been teaching History at the University of Delhi for over a decade. She has a Ph.D. in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Arathi Kannan

Head of DEI: India, Global

Arathi leads the design and execution of DEI measurement tools for global partners. These include Serein’s Diversity Index, the scope of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotions, and the scope of unconscious bias in external messaging. 

She has also designed a standardized tool to review company policies and products through an inclusion lens. Arathi leads workshops on inclusion, unconscious bias, domestic violence, mental health, and well-being. 

Arathi is a published researcher with Master’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Criminology from Bond University, Australia. Her experience includes working with people from different backgrounds, including refugee groups.

Thejaswini CA

LMS Platform Associate

Thejaswini is responsible for the operations and maintenance of Serein’s in-house e-learning platform. She assists customers to deliver learning content and assess employee engagement through Serein’s tracking system. 

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Thejaswini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from Field Marshal KM Cariappa College, Kodagu.

Bhavini Pant

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Before Serein, Bhavini worked as an archivist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and as an editorial assistant for IIT Bombay’s PR and Alumni Associations department.

She has a Master’s degree in Education from Azim Premji University where she worked extensively with the management on anti-sexual harassment legal implementation. Her work involved the interpretation of the law in a university as a workplace and an educational institution for adults. 

Siri Prasad

Safety and PoSH Expert

Siri Prasad is a Safety and PoSH Expert at Serein and serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients. Her work is not limited to, but includes advising in legal procedures, best practices for safe work cultures, and reviewing of PoSH policies and labor law compliance.

Siri is a Gold Medallist and holds a BBA, LLB (Hons.) from Christ University and a Masters in Science (International Employment Relations) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she also served as the EDI Officer.

Rishab Prasad

DEI Specialist

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Rishab holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from CHRIST University, Bangalore. He has directed more than nine short films on topics like stigmas of menstruation, widowhood, and adoption.

Kirtika N

Safety and PoSH expert

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Kirtika serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in fintech, healthcare, business management, gaming, and more. She has 50+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations at the workplace and supporting partner organisations on legal procedure and best practices.

She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Montfort College, Bengaluru, and has experience working as a trainee counselor.

Sharanya Venkataraghavan

Safety and PoSH expert

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She has been involved in the review of PoSH policies, labour law compliances, and research regarding the risk of secondary victimisation of complainants under the PoSH Act.

Sharanya graduated with BBA, LLB (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She has experience in PoSH and employment law with notable law firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., J. Sagar and Associates, among others.

Nandini Abraham

Statistical Analyst

Nandini conducts extensive industry-specific research on DEI trends in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Nandini is responsible for developing statistical models for DEI assessment on Serein’s DEI SaaS Tool. She designs measurement tools for DEI benchmarking, inclusion assessments, and employee experience surveys.

Nandini is passionate about creating engaging and impactful reports, toolkits, and playbooks for Serein’s customers.

Nandini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Mathematics & Statistics from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

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Sri Padmavathi C specialises in providing accounting consulting services to companies. She helps in assisting & maintaining Serein’s Books of Accounts, GST, TDS, PT filing, financial statements preparation & audit review.
 
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Anisha Debnath

PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator

As a PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator, Anisha is primarily responsible for conducting sessions and facilitating conversations that enable building of safe and inclusive workplaces for all. Anisha also undertakes in-depth research into various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues that plague our work cultures today. All of this research goes into designing bespoke sessions and curating interactive learning experiences for several of Serein’s partners. 

Anisha has a background in History, especially in the history of gender and early feminism in colonial South Asia. 

Anisha has a Bachelor’s degree in History (Hons.) from Gargi College, University of Delhi. She has also studied for an MPhil in World History from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Aseem Deuskar

Inclusive Workspace Architect

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Aseem is an Inclusive Workspace Architect dedicated to reshaping workplace diversity and accessibility. He is skilled in conducting comprehensive accessibility audits and implementing inclusive design solutions.


Aseem is passionate about creating environments that foster equal opportunities

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

 

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