DEI is more than a number- it’s a mindset
Saturday November 27, 2021, By Lalita Tata
When there is a stagnation in the diversity, equity, and inclusion journey, it often helps companies to take a step back and re-examine. This is what PepsiCo did when it decided to give its DEI goals the much-needed impetus by bringing about a change in the mindset.
“Our journey towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) began in 2005. However, when we took a step back and looked at ourselves, and thought why weren’t we making much progress, we found that we need to have a huge mindset shift,” said Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India, She was speaking at the recently held two-day event ‘Best Practices of the 100 Best Conference’ by Avtar and Working Mother.
Speaking about women in sales, ‘Frontline Diversity: Bold Moves and Big Bets’, she said most organizations do well at diversity but lack or overlook inclusion. “The DEI journey becomes very deep and impactful when the organizations embark on inclusion and drive the mindset change.” She added.
She elaborated a 3A approach towards the DEI journey:
-Building Awareness – by conducting various training programs
-Taking Actions – by changing the existing policies while designing new ones as per the requirement of the organization
-Creating Allyship – by creating chapters where different allies come forward to be a part of this journey
The most affected by this are the women in sales in the DEI journey. Hence PepsiCo. looked into the opportunities and challenges faced by the women in the frontline. These were:
-Talent pool availability
-Lack of infrastructure regarding safety and hygiene
-Need for a shift in mindset about women in unconventional roles
“We decided to make bold moves and big steps and embark on a diversity journey in sales,” Pavitra said.
-The four-step approach yielded great results.
-Leveraging unique talent pools
-Bold bets on women in atypical roles
-Connects, coffee table books, external FGDs
-Life stage support including infrastructure, childcare, and flexibility
Taking these steps helped in the organization’s diversity journey. For the very first time, women’s representation increased by two times. There were more senior leaders and a significant change in cultural fabric was observed:
-There were more collaborations
-Stakeholder feedbacks were more positive
-A shift in mindset was seen
-People felt more inclusive
-They started voicing their opinions fearlessly
Pavitra also elaborated on the lessons learned along the way:
-No one size fits all: Continuous listening connects to identify concerns
I-nclusion first: A 360-degree approach to inclusion mindset shift is required
-Bold: Set challenging targets that encourage bold bets on talents
-Foundation: Start with infrastructure, safety, and role models
-Take leadership along: Identify business sponsors to lead the DEI agenda
- With a diverse experience of around 10 years in the Power Sector and Journalism, Lalita is a Manager - Research & Solutions at Avtar.