Ruchi Ahluwalia Group Head HR Quess Corp on Breaking the Bias at Work

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Ruchi Ahluwalia Group Head HR Quess Corp on Breaking the Bias at Work
At Quess, we are striving to have 50% women in the workforce by 2025. We measure, communicate and hold leaders accountable on various metrics around DE&I. DE&I is integrated with our People strategy and our purpose.

Ruchi heads the HR function as Group Head HR for Quess Corp Ltd. She has  20 + years of diverse HR experience, of which over 10 years have been in leadership roles across various industries.

An astute HR leader and visionary, she has been awarded the “101 Top HR Minds” by World HRD Congress and the 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL HR by Times Ascent. How to build inclusiveness as a culture is what she constantly strives for.

She enjoys being a guest speaker and panelist on various professional and social forums. Other interests include reading, running, and taking a plunge in Spirituality.

Q- What is the diversity and inclusion policy at Quess Corp?

Fairness, equality, diversity, and inclusiveness form the foundation of the Quess Nurturing Spirit. At Quess, we understand that these policies cannot just be on paper. They are good only if the need for such initiatives is clearly understood by all the people in the organization.

For us at Quess, Diversity & Inclusion is a mindset and not just a policy. This is because we have people from different experiences and exposures, who hail from different geographies, both nationally and internationally. This view is strongly upheld by our Leadership Team and is further driven into rest of the organisation, whether it is our different businesses or the different industries we cater to.

Diversity & Inclusion at Quess is not just about hiring women employees. It stands for an open and welcoming environment, that allows each Quessian – irrespective of their gender, age, race, whether they are differently-abled and regardless of their sexual preference – an equal opportunity to grow and realise their true potential. It also helps bring in a diverse and truly balanced perspective in team dynamics.

At Quess, we are striving to have 50% women in the workforce by 2025. We measure, communicate and hold leaders accountable on various metrics around DE&I. DE&I is integrated with our People strategy and our purpose.

Q- Recently, what are the efforts made by you in India to accelerate DE&I initiative?

Our initiatives to encourage greater diversity and inclusion can be grouped under the following categories:

  • Empowering & Supporting Women at Quess
  • Celebrating DE&I at Quess

Getting Ready for Opportunities at Work (GROW) programme is aimed at helping our women Quessians at career levels 3 and 4 to develop managerial and leadership skills, enhance business skills, strengthen and leverage networks, embrace wellness and work-life balance. Coaching a Woman Leader, Wonder Women Series are some other programs aimed at motivating and empowering women Quessians at the workplace.

In addition to growing our core women Quessians we also try to increase the job opportunities for our associate women employees and we have upto 60% of the staff employed in many client sites who are females.

In line with the company’s commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive environment, we introduced T.R.I.U.M.P.H – India’s biggest Diversity & Inclusion event exclusively for women, the LGBTQ+ and PwD communities. 

We provided an opportunity for the participants to interact directly with 200+ leading companies, compete with India’s top women coders, engage with 10+ prominent women leaders for an exceptional experience to drive success, growth & networking that will lead them to their ‘dream job’. 

TechnoDiva: India’s biggest women-only hackathon. The top 3 winners of TechnoDiva were awarded Rs.6Lakh, Rs.4Lakh, and Rs.2Lakh respectively, with the winner being chosen as the ‘Best Woman Coder in India’. Connect-a-thon: India’s biggest D&I-focused Virtual Career Fair. Hosted over 15,000 jobs from top companies for D&I hiring.

1. Supporting Our Female Quessians

  • Sthree – Work From Home policy for Women Quessiansis a newly launched policy that is meant exclusively for women Quessians. It provides them the flexibility of one day to rest or work from home during their stressful periods. This illustrates sensitivity towards our women Quessians.
  • Health Awareness Sessions and a range of virtual sessions are held regularly for female Quessians. These sessions cover a range of subjects for eg: Handling Children and Child Behaviour during the Pandemic”.  “Return to work” policy targeting all expecting mothers and new mothers. Work from home, Flexi work hours, Half-day-half pay are add ons to this policy. Apart from that, there is a buddy assigned to the mother helping her remain connected, by sharing the information on organizational changes, policy deadlines, project updates, and other relevant matters, while she is on leave. 

2.  Celebrating DE&I

We believe reward and reinforcement are the keys to the behaviour you want to be repeated. Celebrations of Inclusion Days, Regularly publishing our DEI data and initiatives, Recognising and rewarding leaders, businesses, and people who have made a difference in creating a diverse equitable, and Inclusive culture.  

Q- How do you identify, and address biases in the workplace?

Given the burden of habit, unconscious bias, social conditioning, etc., diversity is not a given; therefore, it is important to consciously create ecosystems that help achieve an inclusive mindset. And this requires everyone’s commitment; not just that of a select few. It is important that all individuals walk the talk and lead by example.

  1. Awareness  & Education
  2. Listening to our people experiences and perceptions
  3. Involvement of everyone
  4. 0 tolerance to discrimination
  5. Building a Culture of respect equality and inclusion
  6. Special initiatives and programs to promote DEI
  7. Sponsorship and drive from Leaders
  8. Constant reinforcement and encouragement of DEI pro Behaviours and penalties around discrimination are some of the ways we can encourage an inclusive and equitable culture.

These are some of the ways organizations can identify biases and address them proactively.

Q- What are DEI trends that can boost performance in 2022?

  • Equity acquires center stage- In 2022, more and more educated professionals under 35 are expected to prioritize personal values when they decide where to work. That means they may avoid companies without a diverse workforce, clear promotion track, and commitment to confront biases.
  • Younger workers want to see affirmative actions- Young professionals expect action and expect to be heard. They define diversity differently and seek a plurality of experiences, identities, and ideas in the workplace. It is critical for business leaders to show interest in issues that appeal to their employees, actively involving the younger workers so that they can affect genuine change.
  • Remote work and pandemic setbacks-The increase in remote working during the pandemic has created benefits such as more flexibility for working parents and people with disabilities and health issues. But it has also increased inequities, such as in career advancement for women, who as caregivers have been impacted the most during the pandemic. Also, it doesn’t benefit those who traditionally cannot work from home or do not have access to the same work opportunities.
  • Talent Shortage & The great resignation – The increasing talent gap will mandate organizations to retain employees better by prioritizing DEI. DEI strategy shouldn’t be only used to attract new employees, but organizations need to create and communicate initiatives that make their current employees want to stick around, too.
  • Emergence of special roles-Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), Chief Inclusion Officer, Chief People experience Officer are some roles which will gain prominence in 2022 as DEI becomes the agenda of the Board too.

Q- Any concluding remarks?

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging go deeper than surface-level. Togetherness and belonging don’t just give us a community; they deliver results.

In 2022, we’ll witness a rise in purpose-driven inclusive organizations. There will be a place for every background, experience, gender, or race. More than that, leaders will need to move the spotlight to “invisible people and unheard voices” so as to unlock the true power and potential of all.

“Listen to Learn” will help organizations achieve a truly inclusive culture.

Thank You, Ruchi!

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