In Conversation with, Reetu Raina, Chief Human Resource Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Limited on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Reetu is Chief Human Resource Officer at Quick Heal Technologies Limited. She has held HR Leadership roles previously with Sterlite (Vedanta Group), Amdocs, and HDFC Bank. Prior to HDFC Bank, she has worked with Godrej and Tata AIG Life insurance. In her two decades of experience in HR, she had led various transformations. Reetu is a CXO level coach and a keen researcher. She has authored various papers on Leadership and Engagement. She has been recently recognized with HR leadership award by Observe Now.
Q- What are the key challenges that you are facing as CHRO and what would be your key priorities in 2021?
The year 2020 has been a year of reflection and as we transition into 2021 it is important how we carry those learning ahead. One of the biggest challenges I see in this year is moving forward while keeping in mind things will not move back to absolute normal. The general expectation is we should move into normalcy this year which is a wrong expectation as we are still not sure how things will unfold.
Let me give you an example with pandemic slowing corporates had started working towards transition of working from office. And suddenly second wave started seeping in. I think 2020 bought some fundamental changes and it is important to take those learning forward and prioritize basis that. The key priorities are as follows-
- Hybrid model to work in the most efficient manner.
- Employee engagement with focus on learnability.
- Building leadership pipeline with focus on resilience.
Q- How do you see diversity, equity, and inclusion will change this year?
Diversity, equity and inclusion are here to stay, and I think year gone by has only enforced that.
There are some aspects of diversity that clearly surface during pandemic much higher than usual times. One such aspect was about work-life balance.
Women who were working from home had to go through more stress than their male counterparts. I remember receiving many requests from our female employees about the limit on the number of hours some specific hour during the day to be tagged as unavailable.
I think we are still far more patriarchal even after progressing so much in this direction. These are deep-rooted cultural elements that take time to change.
Organizations must be mindful of these societal differences and try to create a cushion for their Women employees so that it is easy for them to manage and balance. It is very ironic when a woman is at home; she has to manage both home and family.
The societal expectation is home is the primary responsibility of Women. For the same woman expectation in office is you are equal to your male counterpart so you should deliver equal or sometimes more to prove equal.
Q- How women leaders can shape the future of work?
The richness in leadership can be bought only by adding different perspectives and thought processes. When we talk about women, they bring emotional intelligence, resilience, and have the ability to hold the polarity in their head.
If we look at the world going forward all these leadership traits will be key for success. In the future of work when technology will be key in operationalizing the business and hybrid workplace will be norm. The key challenge business will face is their ability to connect people and unleash their potential. The way IQ governed the businesses till now EQ will have an equal role to play. And women leaders will be creating that balancing and helping companies to lead more holistically.
In the new era, there will be ease of executing and thanks to technology. At the same time, life span of the organization will be shorten. Success and failure both will come at fast pace. Resilience which is one of dominating strength of women will play major role in absorption of setbacks organization may face due to shortening life span.
In the future of work, one of the key determining factors would be how each business is available to integrate varied thought processes. The ability of women to hold polarity and still make a decision will be instrumental in deciding the future successful path for Organizations.
Q- What are powerful ways to boost Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace?
In my opinion starting point is acceptance of diversity than just managing diversity. When you accept as an organization or as a leader you work towards achieving it with all good intent and efforts.
While, when you manage it is a tick-in-the-box exercise which does not yield results. Simply put you will hire diversity to make your D&I ratios right. But you may not focus on enablement of these diverse candidates. The impact of this can be seen slowly with trickling down of numbers in your D&I ratios even though you hired diverse candidates to make the ratios right.
The response when you operate from the seat of acceptance is completely opposite to when you operate from seat of management.
In acceptance, enablement is created by genuine efforts so it attracts hires from diverse backgrounds. Enablement creates a great experience for diverse candidates, and they start becoming brand ambassadors to attract more diverse candidates.
Unconscious bias plays a very important role if you would accept or manage the diversity. Enablement cannot happen only by having diversity-friendly policies and processes in place. Enablement happens by a synergy between policies, processes, and behaviors exhibited by leaders on the floor. And if leaders have an unconscious bias it is very difficult for them to allow enablement.
Unconscious bias does not play a role only at the leadership level. But it plays role across the Organization. That eventually impacts enablement. To make diversity stay we need to help our employees and leaders to deal with unconscious bias by conducting sessions. Unconscious bias is even unknown to the people who are exhibiting that behaviour. So creating awareness through sessions will really help.
Q- Any concluding remarks on DEI?
The world is evolving and maturing in many ways. Need for equality is growing in many ways and one of those equity aspects which will be pushed faster than ever would-be D&I.
It is not only from evolution of mankind, we need equality. It makes more and more business sense as well.
We saw many great examples in this Pandemic especially counties lead by women had far superior response to handling of Pandemic and it goes back to EQ, Holding the polarity and resilience which I mentioned earlier.
I would like to close with the statement “We don’t need diversity to make D&I numbers look good. We need D&I to creating lasting and rounded Organization.
Thank you, Reetu!