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Diversity & Inclusion – expanding horizons in 2020

The focus on expanding the Diversity & Inclusion(D&I) agenda to further include more diversity dimensions was the underlying theme in 2019. While still focusing on gender, D&I strategies veered towards recognizing the intersectionality and diversity that exists among us—be it age, background, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical & mental abilities,among others.

At Wells Fargo EGS (India), we strengthened our D&I council and expanded the agenda to focus primarily on four pillars—gender, diverse abilities, LGBT+, and veterans. Our three-pronged strategy to focus on culture, policy and infrastructure, and advocacy ensured we moved the needle across pillars.

A key learning of 2019 was the talent advantage provided by veterans. Research indicates that approximately 65,000 personnel in the age group of 35 to 45 retire from armed forces every year. It presents an excellent opportunity to include the large untapped pool of veteran talent in corporates.Having started our journey early in the year, we understood the many challenges faced by veterans and corporates and were in a position to lead the industry in the veteran inclusion journey. Bringing two key stakeholders together, we facilitated a partnership between the Indian Army and NASSCOMin October 2019 to launch a NASSCOM Veteran Cell that would act as a platform for veterans looking to enter the corporate world and for corporates interested in beginning their veteran inclusion journey.

Wells Fargo EGS (India) is also working with government bodies such asDirector General Resettlement (DGR) of the Indian Army, Commodore Bureau of Sailors (CABS) of the Indian Navy, Air Force Record Office (AFRO) of the Indian Air Force, and leading educational institutions that focus on veteran reintegration. The hiring strategy not only includesthe officer cadre but also the JCO, NCO, and Soldier cadre, across the rank and file based on the availability of suitable open positions.Wells Fargo EGS (India) launched the India chapter of its global Veterans’ Team Member Network (VTMN) program to help veterans with opportunities for personal and professional development, mentoring and networking.

Another diversity dimension that gained prominence through the past year is LGBT+ inclusion. Post the overturn of Sec 377 in September 2018, corporates have been much more vocal about creating awareness and inclusive workplaces for the LGBT+ community. Given the social context in India, allyship became the anchor for thelaunch of the PRIDE India chapter at Wells Fargo EGS (India). This was the first step in ensuring that all team members view Wells Fargo as not just a place where you can develop yourself and advance your career, but also a placewhere you can feel safe and cared for while being your true self.Throughout the year, there were multiple efforts to create awareness around theLGBT+ community through sensitization sessions on nuances of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE), talk series with leaders from the LGBT+ community,creative expression through dance drama, and visually identifiable collateral and merchandise - rainbow flag at our reception area andwide distribution of rainbow lanyards. The creation of all-inclusive restrooms across Wells Fargo EGS(India) sites was an important step and a commitment towards creating a truly inclusive workplace.

While companies explore newer dimensions of D&I, gender remains a pertinent area that needs continuous focus to attract, develop, and retain the best talent. Understanding the importance and need for childcare support, in a market leading move, Wells Fargo EGS (India) enhanced childcare reimbursement to INR15,000 per month per child until the age of six for mothers and single fathers.

The company also continues to tap into non-traditional talent pool of returning women professionals. The Glide career continuity program is a highly customized offering for women returning to the workforce after taking career breaks to fulfill personal commitments and responsibilities. Women with eight or more years of experience with a career break for 2 years or more are eligible to apply for the program. The selected hires are on-boarded as full time employees from day 1.

For inclusion of persons with disabilities or ‘diverse abilities’ as it is called at Wells Fargo EGS (India), the ongoing focus is to create a conducive work environment by reviewing physical infrastructure, policies and practices, and assessing technology accessibility. This will enable usto improveour readiness to hirefrom across the diverse abilities spectrum going into 2020 and beyond. The launch of the India chapter of the Diverse Abilities Team Member Network has played a key role in enhancing awareness about diverse abilities, hiring manager sensitization, and team member engagement.

As we usher in 2020, there are significant opportunities to strengthen the impact of the D&I strategies in organizations. As there is no diversity without inclusion, the key is to focus on enhancing inclusive culture and leadership given the multi-dimensional nature of diversity. Some of the key D&I trends to consider are intersectionality among the various diversity dimensions and reflecting the same in Employee Resource Group (ERG) strategies, focusing on unconscious bias ‘consciously’, recognizing and leveraging D&I ambassadors and allies, practicing everyday inclusion in all organizational initiatives including wellbeing and community outreach, and measuring D&I outcomes and aligning the organization programs, policies and benefits to achieve it.

Author details

Name: Ramesh S Kumar

Designation: Head of Human Resources

Company: Wells Fargo EGS (India)

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