How to launch a career in a sluggish job market.

Campus Journos

Globally weak economy, sliding Rupee, high inflation, policy paralysis, upcoming elections, etc, etc have slowed the growth in India and there are clear signs and forecasts that macro-economic outlook and GDP growth for 2014 will remain modest if not weak. Companies therefore, will be cautious in 2014 and are likely to focus more on managing and controlling costs as opposed to making big investments. As a result, hiring forecasts for 2014 might remain weak. Wise and progressive companies will continue to “invest cautiously” in hiring fresh engineering and MBA talent, however, there will be an unfavorable effect on the Engineering and MBA talent pool graduating in the summer of 2014.

How to best handle your career take-off in a sluggish job market, wherein fewer good opportunities will present themselves and chances of getting your dream job may not be that bright?

I have seen this about three times earlier in the past 24 years of my career where a major economic crisis has affected the fresh graduates (from a career take-off point of view). I have also learnt and observed how; some very smart students have dealt with it effectively. Based on my observations and experience, my 5 point advice is as follows:

1)      Don’t blame or doubt yourself and stay positive: It’s important to understand that this situation is not your creation and you are just a little bit unlucky to be graduating in these tough times. Stay emotionally strong and keep smiling. If you didn’t get a Pre-placement Offer or Pre-placement Interview from the organization where you interned as an MBA student this year – don’t get negative or cynical about that organization. In fact, thank that organization for what you learnt there and build and maintain good relations. Coz when the tough times are over that same organization could re-consider you. Most important when you are being hired by another company, your references will be checked with the company you interned in!!

 “Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don’t just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won’t happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you’ll love it up here.” – Donald Trump

2)      Re-set and refine your goals and objectives: If you are amply clear that your dream job in your dream company isn’t going to happen – then re-configure your near term goals and objectives and identify and prepare yourself for the next best thing that’s possible and is lurking as an opportunity. Very important to have a Plan-B and more important to activate it.

“Re-setting goals and objectives doesn’t mean you are compromising with your vision and aspiration, in fact it means you are committed to achieving it” – iYash

3)      Don’t depend on your campus placement process alone: I have often said this before, the controlled and traditional methods of placing MBA students by running a campus placement process which is managed by a body of students and the school management is a big deterrent to the students prospects – coz, bright students are robbed of their choices and are forced into accepting offers from limited choice for the sake of placing other weaker students. Also the Indian MBA School’s campus placement process is not designed for sluggish times. It’s a socialist approach to ensure that everyone gets a job (assuming many companies are out there wanting to recruit from that campus) and then the college can boast of a placement record, instead of boasting of a top-class learning environment. Anyways, don’t depend on it and challenge it and change it, if you can!!

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit

4)      Leverage Social Media: Be present on Social Media Platforms, especially the ones that are used by companies to identify and recruit talent. My top three platform recommendations are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Make good profiles and be present on them with the objectives of connecting, sharing and learning. In addition leverage on the connections you have already built with executives and friends you have made in the corporate world and seek their help in sighting and applying for the right opportunities.

“Social media is your opportunity to reach a massive number of people with transparency, honesty, and integrity.” – Brian E. Boyd Sr., Social Media for the Executive

5)      Value what you get: Whatever opportunity you land up with – value it and give your best to the company that hires you, work hard and learn. If you don’t value what you get and keep thinking about why you didn’t get what you sought dearly, it won’t help. There is nothing such as a second grade organization. Leaders, employees and their values make an organization and if you are going to be one of them, then make it a top-notch company. Work with total commitment and passion and you won’t go wrong in making a career!!

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”- Bill Cosby

Wishing all the MBA students on Indian campuses (who will graduate in 2014) all the very best and now that you are experiencing the real world and its challenges, I would encourage you have a constructive conversation with your junior batch students and share with them your wisdom and importance of summer internships, which they are seeking right now for the summer on 2014. Most points mentioned above are applicable to them as well.

“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” -Joshua J. Marine

Astachal and My Art and Habit of Self-introspection

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I enjoyed this view almost every evening for about a decade (from 1975 to 1985) at the Gwalior Fort in India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwalior). I was then studying at the prestigious boarding school in India, The Scindia School Gwalior (http://www.scindia.edu/). Whilst at school we had a very important and a beautiful ritual, which was the evening prayer congregation of fellow students. This congregation used to take place at “Astachal” the amphitheater of the school. The setting was very serene, scenic and simply beautiful, the amphitheater has a large size statue of Mahatma Gandhi which further overlooks the city of Gwalior with the hills and the sky in distant background (http://www.scindia.edu/asthachal.php). The timing of the evening prayer congregation at Astachal was usually synced with the sunset time of the season.

What I learnt and imbibed as a young student at Astachal was something unique, which serves me well even today and its become my daily habit of doing silent introspection. Whilst introspecting, I look within myself, get in touch with my own feelings and emotions and I ponder over my day; what went well, what didn’t go well, what I did for and to others, what others did for and to me, what made me laugh, happy, exited, sad, etc, etc. I hand over my sad and bad part of the day to my god and during the process of introspection I make resolutions, promises to self and plans for the next day. Every evening after the introspection, I feel the lightest and second best. The day after when i wake up and get ready for the day, I feel the best!!

Since I seem to have achieved some success (at-least my wife and children think so – coz we have grown up together!!) in my career. For the past one decade or so I have been operating as an senior executive in the corporate world – the pressures and stress has only increased and trust me, its always high. There are various things that help me deal with the pressure and stress and this ritual and habit of silent introspection that I imbibed at the Astachal is my daily antidote.

Today I live and work based out of three cities and two continents, every month at a minimum I travel to at least four countries in four different continents, I have a beautiful family that I love, a terrific team that I care for and a fantastic career that I value and to keep it like that, I have to work very hard, make efforts to stay physically and mentally fit and be sincere and true to myself and others. I guess, everybody needs a spiritual fix these days and may be this is my fix, which, I found and imbibed at the Astachal. Last week, when I was having a session with my coach and mentor, I was made to realize that this silent introspection habit is a strength and not many can do it effectively. When asked, how I do it well and effectively. I answered and gave the entire credit to my school, my fellow students, teachers and the ritual I picked up at the Astachal 28 years ago!! so what does this silent introspection help me achieve? it is helps me achieve the five following things:

1) In a meditative form in just 20 mins, I can re-cap my whole day and assess the positive and negative happenings and the related emotions (today not at Astachal but on a flight or in the back seat of my car). I get in touch with my feelings and emotions everyday. Hence, I let go off my negative feelings and emotions every day and I don’t carry them forward.

2) I feel chuffed about my positive feelings and emotions and plan to make them a part of my next day. Helps me stay positive and bright.

3) I apologies to people without any ego, if I have caused them grief and I thank and appreciate people who have helped me and made me feel good, and on almost a daily basis.

4) Most important, I am ready and prepared to have courageous conversation with people who have given me grief and have tried to erode my esteem. I don’t take it lying down!

5) I have a very peaceful and a light evening and enjoy my drink 🙂 and go to bed with reduced stress and pressure.

I dedicate this blog to Mr Chatterjee, our school music teacher who used to often lead us at the Astachal and sing songs such as “Door kahin jab din dhal jaye…” and “Surya asth ho gaya, gagan mast ho gaya…” I still know all these songs by heart. Simply beautiful!! 🙂

Here are a few more pics of Astachal (Courtesy some fellow school boy who clicked them and put them on the web. Thanks mate!!)
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How to Leverage Social Media in HR & Employer Brand Building

This is a Guest Blog By: Zenobia Madon, GM Talent Acquisition, Philips India (@zenobiamadon), Hussain, Mohammed Mansoor, GM Talent Acquisition, Philips India (_mansoor1) and Gautam Ghosh, GM HR and Social Media, Philips India (@gautamghosh). Am honored to publish it as an contribution from my colleauges, who make me proud and are leading the way on the topic of this blog at Philips India 🙂

Our experience with Social Media & Employer Branding (Brand building) has been very interesting and fruitful. During our 2012 annual HR strategy workshop – Yashwant Mahadik (@indianyash) shared his learning’s, forecast and vision about Social Media & HR and encouraged the team to come out with ideas and strategy to leverage Social Media in HR. Over the recent years, Philips India HR team has significantly transformed HR in the company and we have developed and built some top-class HR practices and programs to create value in business and the time was just ripe to leverage Social Media to share and learn. In response to Yash’s challenge and vision – Philips India, HR team’s journey in the space of Social Media started about a year ago – we realized that Social Media platforms are a great way to share what is happening at Philips India with our target audience. Objective was to share some of our exciting and cutting edge, practices, initiatives and events at Philips India with an aim of communicating our value proposition and continue to build a strong employer brand. Social Media is an exciting new white space, some of us also looked at it as an unknown animal with green horns.

Very quickly a core team sprung up to champion this initiative. We began our journey this time last year, with the launch of our We are Philips India Facebook page, (which was launched by (@AbhijitBhaduri) and we to refreshed our presence on LinkedIn and leveraged our company’s global relationship with LinkedIn – to not just recruit from it, but also learn and share from this platform. Then we planned on leveraging other platforms like Twitter & WordPress.

The more we indulged in leveraging social media the more we learnt that, “it’s not an easy task” – you need certain capabilities to do it effectively (and not many of us had those capabilities – what we had in plenty was enthusiasm and drive). Then we explored partnerships and support from Digital and Social Media agencies, most of them were rather inexperienced in context of leveraging Social Media for HR and especially in the area of Employer Brand building. We also realized that there were not many benchmark organizations which had leveraged social media in the space of HR and employer brand building. We therefore decided to chalk out our own path. Decision made was that we will build the capability in-house and learn as we go!!

We initially experimented with different initiatives on Social Media both for the internal (our employees) and external audiences and got some great learning’s (things that work and things that don’t). We also realized that while we had a lot of information to share about the exciting times at Philips, we needed to be cautious about what value add it would do to our external audience and how engaging it would be for them. One thing we were clear, we wanted to build our presence organically and via content creation.

At this point in time @indianyash hired and attracted our co-author of this blog post – @gautamghosh to Philips India and he started off by building awareness and capability of Social Media in the HR team and the senior business leaders. @indianyash was very clear in his steer that, we will build the capability by learning and doing it ourselves. Oh boy!! we did it or are doing it and its so much fun!! We, won’t elaborate on this part much, as a blog from @indianyash himself on this topic seems to be in the oven 

We then moved on to Twitter and the excitement and the learning journey was accelerated. We created a Philips India HR Twitter account and got the entire HR team (70+) on to Twitter. The team getting on to Twitter was awesome fun and the turning point. We had all of kinds – we had some early adopters who took to twitter like ducklings take to water and there were some cautious ones who observed and watched and gradually got on to it. The twitter world welcomed us with open arms. Very quickly, we all got hyper connected with the rest of the HR and Social Media stalwarts on Twitter.
We attended our first twitter #tag chat on invitation from @indianyash who was chairing it for the month of April 2013 (#IndiaHRchat hosted by our friend @tanvi_gautam) which was a fantastic experience. The pace of the chat, exciting discussions and multiple re-tweets which some of us received was invigorating. The #tag chat which was scheduled for an hour seemed to pass in a jiffy. We were dumbfounded by the millions of impressions we made and now we look impatiently forward to the next one every month. This encouraged the team to further explore twitter and we learnt a lot about Twitter.

Within a few months we were very familiar with the various platforms and started leveraging Social media for our HR initiatives. We designed & introduced a one of its kind initiative, #PhilipsHRtalks on 22nd April which was a huge success and created a lot of buzz. The session trended on Twitter, we got about 935,000 impressions and the video of the session which was shared on Youtube has got over 2000 views.
It is encouraging to hear from Industry leaders and HR thought leaders how impressed they are to see the @HRPhilips – HR team at Philips lead the way in leveraging Social media in HR. We also found it extremely easy to get visibility amongst our Global team, on some of our initiatives via both Twitter and ConnectUs (our internal social networking platform). The momentum and transformation was such that we all started to utilize our internal company social networking platform eagerly and effectively.

Another recent initiative which we conceptualized and launched recently is #CampusJournos, which is currently in progress. CampusJournos is an exciting initiative launched by Philips India to engage with MBA school students across India via Social media. The initiative is completely managed by us in-house, it is hosted on WordPress and is promoted via Facebook and Twitter. We have received an overwhelming response to Campus Journos from the MBA students across many business schools in India, since launch. We have received over 67000 views and 305 entries in its first week of Launch, which is very heartening for us. All this at no extra cost or budget.

In addition to above, we have vibrant and engaged alumni networks, who contribute actively to social media conversations about Phillips. We have encouraged active networking and peer-to-peer discussion around topics relevant to personal or professional development. In fact at Philips, Philips Alumni Group is an example of leveraging social media for re-attracting regretfully lost employees and this has been one of our robust channels of recruitment. In addition, our active involvement on select Philips LinkedIn Groups (e.g. Innovations in Marketing, Innovations in Healthcare) has helped us engage & learn from likeminded passionate functional experts. We do realize that we can further leverage LinkedIn and we are at it.

At Philips, we believe that every employee is a brand ambassador. And the best way to build or strengthen our brand is via employees – who can contribute to building the brand – inside out. To that effect, we encourage @HRPhilips to be active on social media sites such as Twitter and share their perspectives on a wide range of subjects. This exercise has been one of rich learning and fun – and has also provided the world-at large a glimpse into the knowledgeable and informed Philips employee and its rich culture.

We make no mistake in accepting that, we are still learning and it’s a journey. But the excitement and fun we have had in the past one year and the success we have tasted enhances our belief how powerful Social Media for HR can be!! This is written on behalf of @HRPhilips full team 

Theme for Week 2: Living Healthy

Philips a health and well being company operates in three business sectors; 1) Lighting, 2) Healthcare and 3) Consumer Lifestyle. Last week the theme was “Light” and we got a tremendous response and huge participation from the Indian MBA students. This week the theme is “Health” – looking forward to your blogs – expressions and creative communication!! All the best!!

How Can HR Create Value

Value Creation by HR is a hot topic these days. Voices in the board room are loud and clear, and if you are a fly on the wall in a management board meeting you will often hear them say, “gone are the days when HR as function used to predominantly add value (due to its larger focus on administrative and transactional activities). Expectation is that, like marketing, sales or research and development, etc – HR has to start creating value in business and if it cannot create value than its best suited to sit outside the organisation with an outsourced service provider of transactional activities”.

When @tanvi_gautam (Dr. Tanvi Gautam) the founder and host of #IndiaHRChat invited me to lead one of her monthly chats in April this year, I readily agreed and suggested this topic to her. She very kindly agreed and we created an opportunity and a platform to discuss “HR and Value Creation” on the popular and fast growing #IndiaHRChat platform, on Twitter, on 27th of April, 2013. This blog post is a summary of the discussions and learning from that twitter chat.

A nicely moderated and well attended #tag chat on twitter to me is like experiencing Samudra Manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam (Churning of the Ocean is a famous period in the ancient Indian mythology. The story appears in  Mahabharata) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samudra_manthan

The #IndiaHRChat that evening commenced, with a lot of anticipation and excitement. The moment of euphoria soon transformed into an intense and rich discussion that was essentially spread out answering and discussing several structured questions, which were circulated to all invitees to read and prepare. The outcome of our rich discussions and diverse viewpoints are summarized as follows:

First question focused on; what does value creation by HR look like? I initiated the chat by sharing the popular definition of value creation –”performance of actions that significantly increase the worth of products, services, solutions, brands”. The definition was supported by a fair number of examples, which people could connect to and many viewpoints and responses started pouring in. @Anand__Pillai – Anand Pillai, CLO Reliance Industries proposed a broader perspective to link value creation to the society by the organization. This discussion was taken to another level by Dr. Tanvi Gautam where she mentioned about various levels at which the value creation happens. Many other rich viewpoints were shared over the how part of inspiring performance, creating vision and moving people to action as value creation.  More or less all of us agreed to the fact that value creation is about going beyond the obvious and creating value to the organization with a human touch. Then came another pearl of wisdom from @rajeevchopra – Rajeev Chopra, CEO Philips India who said, – “grow people, grow business = creating value”. The discussions over the first question concluded when @_mansoor1 – Mansoor, who heads TA at Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore mentioned the 3D’s of value creation – Customers, Business & Employees. By now many HR and Business leaders had joined the chat and like any other top-notch Twitter chat ideas and viewpoints were flowing freely and interaction had reached a high level; it was perfect time to move to the next question.

“HR, like a magnifying glass, needs to bring focus to an organization’s efforts. It’s a thread that makes a necklace out of the pearls” – Shamik Vora (@shamikv)

The event moved a step further with second question inviting discussions on the difference between value creation and value addition.  “Value addition is an incremental and one of the many steps towards creation of value. “Value creation is more holistic as compared to value addition” was a common theme that emerged and there were many examples shared of what value addition is and what value creation is. Everyone seemed to agree on a simple fact that value creation is what definitively impacts the customers positively and keeps the organisation perpetual. Then a good question was raised; which of the two, value creation or value addition is more important? Many viewpoints were shared and most agreed that both are important and though organisations and HR professionals are rather good at value addition they need to get better at value creation. @sundertrg – Sunder Ramachandran, Head of Learning at JLT drew a beautiful analogy about M&A – Value creation is like a big acquisition successful from HR point of view, whilst value addition is more bolts on the activity of M&A which makes it successful. Another example shared was hiring people by talent acquisition is value addition but when they work towards and build a strong employer brand – that brand building is value creation.  @RajeevChopra made a final remark “The important thing is- everyone can and must strive to add value in their own way but aligned to the larger goal”.

“When you create, you also add but it’s not always the case vice versa” – Zenobia Madon (@ZenobiaMadon)

The “Samundra Manthan” (The Twitter chat) was at its peak by now. The question we began discussing now was; how can HR create that value? I emphasized the importance and need of remaining strategically focused and partnering with business to understand the needs of the business and then create value in business – as compared to being transactionally focused.  @Anand__PIllai stressed on bringing ‘Human’ back to HR. We couldn’t have agreed more to his thoughts. Value creation is possible only if we are ‘human or people centric’ coz it’s all about people and its people who create value. Whilst we were focusing on the details and other examples of value creation,  @armaan_seth – Armaan Seth, HR Head of Consumer Lifestyle Philips India brought our attention to a very interesting and broader insight of creating a culture where value creation is possible by one and all. HR can create value for the Organization and its Employees by creating an environment of Transparency, Recognition, Empowerment, and Learning. As rightly mentioned by @Anand__Pillai, “Create value by having a Roman holiday experience in a Line Function & see and experience things more broadly”. Then @Sairee – Ms Sairee Chahal – Leading expert in Diversity and Inclusion and leader at Flexi Moms – made a very good point saying that, HR can add value by making change easier than expected for everyone – by building culture and competency for managing complex change HR can definitely create value.  @rajeevchopra added that, HR should “help build the organization for today, and tomorrow. This will be a good area to create value”. I concluded by stating the importance of understanding the levers for driving a profitable business growth and the cost and profit architecture of the company. It was my opinion that, it’s very important for any HR professional to understand business, its profit architecture and the three important levers of a commercial business – Pricing, Costs and Customer’s value perception of your product, service, solution or brand. I have had the privilege of taking a roman holiday and working for a few years in line roles – in manufacturing and operations & sales and marketing and I found that experience very useful in becoming an effective HR business partner.

“If you can understand business, you can never participate in value creation” – Kavi (@_kavi)

“HR should act like Radar. It should be able to sense and act quickly”- Amit Sharma(@amitssays)

It is always good to know both sides of the coin. So, after an intense discussion filled with rapid fire, rich and valuable tweets on how HR can create value, we moved to the next question, how does HR end up destroying value? We received a number of responses illustrating the ways HR professionals end up destroying values in an organization. Everyone agreed to the fact that one of the biggest value destruction activities has been the inability of HR to partner with business and co-create the business strategy and mostly being too focused internally. Another point which came up repeatedly in the chat was that of HR being a police post and having a command and control mind-set. This kind of attitude definitely erodes the value creation capability of HR.  If we wish to bring new perspectives, we need to conform to new templates and allow employees to propagate them in the organization. Give people precedence over processes and stop throwing the rulebook at people is the best way possible! I made a point saying that, HR people not starting to and continuing to learn also affects their ability to become professionals who can create value. So HR has to start and keep learning in the most effective manner.

“When HR plans and budgets don’t get funding approval, when HR is not able to get any investment in headcount in HR or for their own development. Indicates you are not credible enough!!”- @indianyash

“HR can destroy value if it does not constantly learn and unlearn. And “I know it all’ attitude can be dangerous” – @ZenobiaMadon

Since we are well equipped with what it takes to create/destroy value in the organization, it becomes imperative to measure value created by HR in terms of both tangible and intangible benefits. Supporting opinions were voiced in the chat by many – When HR is entrusted with strategic initiatives and an equal importance is given to HR head in business meetings, when HR is applauded proactively by business and when goals are shared by HR and business leaders makes it very evident that HR has created value in the organization. To add to it, @GautamGhosh – Gautam Ghosh – General Manager HR and Head of Social Media in HR Philips India  and @Abhinav_Kamra – Abhinav Kamra, HR Intern at Philips India suggested terrific customer centric solutions, @GautamGhosh mentioned the Philips way of measuring effectiveness by the NPS method.  Employee Satisfaction can be a very effective way of measuring impact. The energy and engagement of the HR folks themselves is a big indicator of whether they are creating value.  At times failure can be a measure of success added @Tanvi_Gautam.

Finally, I concluded by emphasizing that the ultimate measure of Value creation by HR is Business leaders crediting HR for the superior performance of business; Value can be intrinsic as well as extrinsic and an effective way of measurement has to carter to both.

“The true measure of value creation comes at 3 levels – intellectual, emotional and yes maybe even spiritual” – @Tanvi_Gautam

Time was flying and so were very rich and meaningful tweets. Next up was the penultimate question of this discussion, what competencies will the future HR professional need to be able to create value? The responses and suggestions were simply amazing and really insightful. Some competencies highlighted during the discussion were Business Understanding,  Domain knowledge, Customer Insights, Customer centricity, Brand Building, Design Thinking, Creating Learning Organizations, Culture Building, Leadership Development, Strategic thinking, Analytical Skills (analyze and predict), Change champion, Coaching skills, Critiquing skills, Technology proponent and so on. Folks agreed that HR needs to become more agile and proactive to deal with ambiguities and anticipate business needs better and faster. The need for capability building in the area of value creation was well expressed and discussed.

“HR taking the lead in cementing the link between growing people and growing business”- @RajeevChopra

“Staying current, scanning the horizon & contextually bringing it back to the organization is hugely valued & sought!   Stand up for people. Talk business. Hear the unspoken. Smell the change! That makes a difference!” – @_Kavi

And then came the time for the last discussion question. It was hard to believe but yes, we were in the last 10 mins of this amazing discussion. The gears shifted to understanding what must change on the business side for HR to be able to create value. Amazed to see that most of them were speaking the same language. Business and line leaders should demand value creation from HR and also coach and develop HR to deliver on their expectations and demands. @RajeevChopra as a CEO appreciated the value of HR and warned those who fail to recognize the value HR. @Anand__Pillai further added and said, “Business shouldn’t treat HR as a scapegoat. Ultimately, it’s a handshake; business is as much HR, as HR is business”!

This twitter chat was indeed delightful and enlightening. It was a superb learning experience for all of us. This one hour resulted in no less than a brilliant knowledge repository. @GautamGhosh then shared the statistics of the chat, there were more than 1000 tweets, which had made circa 1 million impressions and he later tweeted the storify of the same.

“Business is hungry and waiting for long for HR to create value. They should get more impatient and demanding” – @IndianYash

“What must change in the Business Side? For starters, we must be all on one side!” – @_Kavi

I also want to thank my colleague and friend @KaleleSuchita – Ms Suchita Kalele who helped me capture the key points of the chat and drafted this blog post. So for all practical purposes she is my co-author for this post. Thank you Suchita.

More about #IndiaHRChat:

#IndiaHR chat is a monthly HR chat series chaired by prominent HR leaders in the Industry. The idea is to facilitate learning by engaging the HR executives from diverse industries, in a live discussion forum.  Watch out for the next #IndiaHRChat on 26th of June, 2013 at 7.00 pm IST – Topic : Leadership Culture from within.

Finally I take my hat off and a bow to @Tanvi_Gautam the founder and host of #IndiaHRChat for creating such a powerful learning and sharing platform known as #IndiaHRChat.

 Einstein Quote's

Einstein quote. Credit to imnotjustagirl.com

How to Best Design and Manage Summer Internship Programs for Strengthening your Employer Brand – Part 2

Part 2 – What Students must do to make internships more valuable:

This is in continuation of the Part-1 which was published three weeks ago.

Today the first month of summer internships for MBA students in India is over and now remains only a month more to go, here are my perspectives and opinions on what the students should do to create value for the organization in which they are interning and also for themselves.

My advice is not on obvious things such as; work hard and stay on top of your project deliverables by making sure your project management skills are being honed, etc. This to me is basic, threshold and hence a given, my advice in particular is about the attitude and dos and don’ts that need to be adopted and exhibited by inerns to create more value:

1) If you haven’t yet started, then, make sure that you have the draft structure of your final presentation and report ready. Don’t leave it until the last weeks. This will help you to start converting you work into a good presentation and report. As you complete your project start to populate it into the draft PPT and report that you may have created.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D Eisenhower    

2) In the past one month you must have met a lot of people in the company you are working and lot of other people in the industry coz of your interactions with them. Make a list of people with whom you would like to build solid connections and then work on building them. No harm in upfront telling those people, how much you value their support and how you would like to stay in contact with them, even after the internship. It will help if you can make time to have informal meetings and discussions with these people over a coffee or a lunch – tell them about yourself, your dreams and aspirations. One caution, don’t go overboard and spend most of your time; networking. Key is to have a nicely focused shortlist of people with whom you want to build solid connections and then spend some time in building those connections. This is also your opportunity to befriend and make solid connections with your fellow interns from other schools. Peer connections are as valuable as any other connections you make during your internship and MBA education.

 Start with the end in mind ~ Stephen Covey

 3) Take a balcony moment and assess what you are learning. At times we get so focused on what we are doing that we forget to hard wire what we are learning. Learning is the most important objective of any internship; ensure you stay focused on it. I recently learned that, to go faster at times you have to slow down, come out of the dance and take a balcony moment. This interval or mid-point of your (two months) internship is a perfect time to slow down a bit, review your progress, assess its effectiveness and re-plan the next phase of execution.

Taking a break for sharpening the saw at regular intervals helps you to cut more effectively and faster ~ Stephen Covey

 4) Your next big milestone is the final presentation that you will give to the senior management of the company. Most company’s give 50% weightage to your final presentation (solutions that you will recommend to the complex business challenge you are working on) and that’s the “what” part. Remaining 50% is for “how” you have worked, behaved and gone about completing your project. So if you are keen on getting placed in the company where you are doing your internship then give it your best shot and present yourself well on both parts; “what” you delivered and “how” you delivered it.

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain ~ Unkown

5) This is my last and most important piece of advice. It’s about what you should do when you get an offer to join the company or what to do – if you don’t get that offer. Of course this should matter to you, only if you are keen to work with the company that you are interning with.

If you get the offer then it’s easy, you are delighted with yourself and congratulations will be in order from all quarters. Enjoy that moment, go back to your school focus on your remaining studies, pass with flying colors and you will most probably join that company, this time, next year. But, when you get that offer – do think hard if you really want to join that company and wish to make a career there. If in doubt discuss freely with your confidants and only if your are totally sure – accept that offer otherwise decline it and try for other jobs and companies that may be of interest to you. It has to be your decision!

What if you are very keen and you don’t get the offer? Now this is a difficult situation. I have often found many interns dismayed and are left feeling dejected and low. Some even get aggressive, angry and start to blame their mentors and guides for not being of much help etc. Some start arguing and disputing the feedback they get and some begin to plead for a reassessment and re-consideration.

Well, let me tell you one thing. Most progressive and professional companies have a very robust assessment process (which involves multiple people and data points) and their decision is often very objective and final. So, in my opinion those who do not accept the company’s decision and start to behave negatively – often land up denting their own image. Therefore,  resilience, maturity and dignity lies in and comes from internalizing the failure as compared to externalizing it. Adopting a positive attitude will help you overcome your disappointment and enhance your chances of greater success in times to come.

Remember one thing, your not getting that offer can be due to various reasons. I have seen many good interns, who despire their super performance on what and how – not getting an offer due to the recessionary economic cycles. During a depressed economic cycle, companies tend to hire fewer number of people. However after the economy bounces back the same companies and leaders go back and look for those interns who were good and are now placed and working somewhere else. Therefore, as explained above please remember the impressions and connections you make can and will serve you well throughout your career or vice versa.

Irrespective of the outcome, as they say; count your blessings and be grateful to the company , all the people who have helped you with your internship and internalize your failure and externalize your success. It’s a key characteristic of a good human being and an good professional. Wishing you great success and a big career. Like life, a career should be big and not necessarily long. So go out there and make it big!!

Dictionary is the only place where success comes before work ~ Mark Twain

My next and concluding part is on what the MBA Schools must do – and I am sure it will raise a good debate and discussion between the three key stake holders (Companies, Students and Schools). Please let me have your comments and feedback on this blog. Thanks 🙂

How to Best Design and Manage Summer Internship Programs for Strengthening your Employer Brand – Part 1

Part 1 – What Companies must do to design and make internships more valuable:

April/May is the season of summer internships in India. Most first year MBA students are on their eight weeks of summer internships – doing projects in companies. These eight weeks are by far the most important eight weeks for many first year MBA students in India. For the past 20 years or so, I have observed and found that – for first year MBA students this is the first big test of their potential and capability. For companies in India this is one of their biggest employer brand strength test of the year, a test of their brands ability to attract top-notch talent from the MBA schools.

The run-up to this internship season begins some times in September/October every year and during this time, most MBA schools and their student placement committees go all out to invite top employers to come and select their students for internships. Almost every MBA student aspires and makes efforts to get selected for an internship in their dream companies, which are most often the top employer brands of India. Every company aspires and goes all out to select the best students for internships. It is indeed very competitive on all fronts and the competition continues to intensify with each passing year – and the ocean of competition is more red then ever. In my opinion companies can do a lot to build strong employer brands by leveraging this opportunity. Not easy and not many get their summer internship programs right. Average or bad internship programs leave many students disillusioned and I have seen employer brands getting eroded due to this. So what must companies, students and MBA schools (the three key stake holders) do to create a blue ocean and ensure that the young and aspiring MBA talent of India is best engaged and developed and everyone benefits from this process. I am writing this blog in three parts; first part is on what companies must do and second and third parts will be on what students and MBA schools must do, respectively.

In my opinion the companies must do the following:

  1. The internship program should be aimed at attracting MBA talent in the form of interns, assessing them (whilst they are interning) then selecting them and offering them challenging roles in your organization. The program should be your company’s important strategic initiative of acquiring talent and building your talent pipeline. This program has to be one of the top Strategic Talent Acquisition initiatives of the company and it should have total top management commitment and sponsorship.
  2. Design and execute robust internship programs, which are aimed at giving the student a rich professional experience. Majority of MBA students In India are fresh and don’t have much prior work experience. Hence this is their first stint or professional work experience in the corporate world. Therefore, whilst designing the program bear their aspirations, background and experience in mind. Ensure that projects are designed and detailed even before you go to the campuses for recruiting interns. Projects should be real, live and aligned to the strategic plans of your company. Each project should be very dear and near to the top management of the company. Organizations end in mind regarding the project should be to get advice, inputs and fresh perspectives on a strategic business challenge/issue. Whilst doing the project the student should be able learn and gain knowledge in the area and function of that project. Projects should ideally be from areas and functions where you plan to attract and recruit talent
  3. Interview and select students for the projects. Short list students based on your project requirements and match your projects to the students learning aspirations. As soon as you have made the selection and if the student signs up – share the project details and begin to engage them. This makes them feel valued and they appreciate and see the professional depth of your company. With the advent of technology it’s possible to engage students with their guides and managers. Many students when informed about their projects in advance do lots of good ground work and it helps them hit the ground running. But make sure you don’t overwhelm them and allow them to focus on their studies and school activities.
  4. Design and execute a top-class induction and orientation plan for the interns during their first week. This is their first experience on the ground of your organization and it has to be absolutely delightful. Logistics and on-boarding support system for the interns in your organization should be top class. Ensure that all issues such as accommodation for those eight weeks, IT support, workplace details etc are sorted out well and on time and on day 1 the intern is not grappling with it and instead is focused on learning. Not an easy task but when planned in detail it’s possible. Having a buddy (preferably an employees who is close or similar to the interns profile) assigned to every intern is a very powerful support step throughout the internship program.
  5. Ensure there is a good formal and informal review mechanism in place to assess how the intern is doing and if they need any extra support. The guide/manager should be totally committed to their intern’s success and should make time to guide them and mentor them. The final presentation of the interns should be treated like a celebration of success rather than a report out. Senior management of the company should participate in this celebration whole heatedly and learn from the interns report out and give them constructive and objective feedback.
  6. Make decisions to offer Pre-placement-interviews (PPIs) or Pre-placement-offers (PPOs) and communicate the same within a month to the college and students as appropriate. Students who don’t land-up with an offer and if they want more feedback on why they didn’t make it – makes sure that the project guide and the HR Manager should provide them that feedback. Always remember that, your interns are your company’s ambassadors for life. So it’s up to you, to create good ambassadors for your company who will always promote your brand or you will land up with detractors of your brand.

In conclusion, I say, designing and executing a top-notch internship program is your company’s big opportunity for strengthening your employer brand and the health and depth of your talent pipeline. Make sure that you invest well and commit fully towards it – if not then best is to not have an internship program in your company, because it’s like a double edged sword and it can also erode the equity of your employer brand.

In all my working years as an HR leader of an organization – I have personally designed and closely supervised these programs and have put my best people to manage them and it has always paid back. Part 2 and 3 will be posted soon. Please read and leave your comments and views.

Diversity & Inclusion; Challenge’s for India Inc – Part 2

Part – 2 (Generational Diversity Challenge)

Whilst researching on the generations of the modern history era (for writing this blog), I learnt that besides current Gen Y, X and Baby boomers there are clear terms for many more generation preceding them. First one is the “Lost generation” born 1883  – 1900, the “Greatest generation” born 1901 – 1924, the “Silent generation” born 1925 – 1942, the “Baby Boomers” born 1943 – 1960, the “Gen X   ” born 1961 – 1980 and the “Millennial” or “Gen Y”, born 1981 – 2002. Most of these terms were coined and used in Europe and USA, however, the latest three generational terms (Baby boomers, X and Y) are now being used universally to segment the working population (by academicians and management practioners).

I am a Gen X and have two college going kids both are Gen Y. One thing I have learned fast is that, just coz you have two children who are Gen Y and coz you have read and consumed various research reports and articles available on generations – it doesn’t make you an expert on the subject. Secondly I have learnt not to stereotype people just coz they were born in that generational time frame. I have witnessed many baby boomers exhibit attitude, traits and behaviors as described for a Gen X or Gen Y. So, No Stereotyping! Following are my own opinions and perspectives based on my experience, observation and insights that I have got from people of all ages.

With 50% of India’s population below the age of 25 years and 65% below 35 years, means India’s is a young nation. Very soon the same stats with begin to reflect in the segments of your organizations workforce. In my organization in India, we are almost similar to the national stats. Having a young workforce (mainly X and Y) – and most of its leaders not so young (baby boomers) pose some real and practical challenges. In my opinion the main challenges can be categorized and described as follows:

1)      Diversity of mindsets, views, attitudes, styles and preferences (of Leaders and their young team members – at times opposing). For example I have seen many Baby Boomer Generation leaders think and believe that working from home is inefficient and unproductive versus the Gen X and Y believe that (at times and when necessary) – working from home can be more efficient and productive. I don’t blame the baby boomers for this mindset about working from home; before you blame them for being rigid lets understand the basis of this mindset. I remember when I started my career 24 years ago – manual time and attendance recording was such an important system in almost all organization. Time office, was one of the most important functions within the HR department. The technology used in those days to record attendance and then pay the employees was based on manual punch cards. All manufacturing locations and most offices had time punch clocks and every employee had a paper card, which you had to punch and record your attendance. Senior executives would sign in a register and were exempted from punching cards. Time and attendance recording was a big deal, because that was the only way of ensuring that people are checking in to do what they are being paid for. Also there was no better technology avaliable those days which could facilitate remote working. Now with advent of technology everything has changed. Remote working is very much possible, people can check-in for work from remote locations (be it their homes or some other place) and are able to perform almost almost all roles except a few that need to be performed in a physical workplace. The Gen Y was born with this technology at their workplaces and they are only witnessing it improve – so they can’t understand why remote working (especially at times) is such a big issue.

Having divergent views isn’t an issue – but ignoring divergent views of all segments of your workforce is an inclusion issue. For example, all policies in an organization are made and approved by senior leaders. Now imagine, If an organization doesn’t take views, styles and preferences of all its people into consideration then it’s likely to come up with polices that are suited to one or few of its workforce segments and hence that policy is likely to be rejected by others. So this is clearly an inclusion issue, which can lead to ineffectiveness of policies and practices in a workplace.

2)      The Gen Y is different and I find them to be very secure and confident. These people haven’t probably stood in long queues at the Indian railway stations and hence haven’t had the disappointment of not getting a train reservation of their choice when they reach the window after almost half days wait (Gen X ers like me who have experienced this will know what I am saying). These people just go on-line and book their travel and they have multiple choices. So they don’t fear shortage as much as the older generation does – I call it the shortage mania. Gen Xers and Baby boomers in urban India seriously suffer from this shortage mania – you will often see these people rushing and running around and you will wonder why they are doing it. Such is their impatience that they find it difficult to wait at the elevator door and first allow people to come out of it – they just rush into the elevator as soon as the door opens, they will always want to be in the fastest moving queue at the security check of an airport or at the cinemas and if their queue is moving slow the discomfort is visible in their body language. I think we do it coz we are prisoners of that shortage era (1960 to 2000) and at times we still continue to see it. The Gen Y sees it as a demand and supply issue or even an overconsumption issue but they don’t see or fear shortages. So if you don’t see a Gen Y rushing or running, it doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t driven or is lacking in energy. So don’t doubt and take the confidence and security of the younger generation as their arrogance or over-confidence. In fact constant negative strokes can damage their confidence. Also it helps to have people around who feel secure and there is no need to remind them of the miseries you went through in life during the shortage era and force them to count their blessings.

3)      The Gen Y in addition to feeling confident and secured is relatively more exposed, knowledgeable and competent. The Gen Xers like me grew up as a children going to school, playing field sports and after school during the evenings – sitting next to a valve radio of Philips, which could tune in at best two to three radio stations and the radio was always operated and controlled by the senior most male member of the house – so all you could do was to sit and listen to what was being played. If you are not keen on the radio the you could either read, play board games (Sankes and Ladder or Ludo), do your homework or sleep. My children grew up not only having a television and its 140 odd channels to choose from, but they choose between a TV, Internet, Radio, Personalized Music (iPod), read a hard copy or a soft copy (on their Laptops or iPads) of a book, play on a Play station, have access to atleast 20 different type of board games or Sleep. So Imagine the speed at which they are/were gaining knowledge as children. Therefore, when these Gen Y ers come to work they come with the same expectations of having multiple choices and flexibility. They are very keen to work and will often do it very well, but they also want to have access to Internet at work so that they can surf and stay connected on the social media, have long coffee breaks and discuss and learn informally from each other. But a Gen Xers or a Baby boomer who is very different just finds it very difficult to understand and comprehend.

I have observed and also learnt from some research carried out that Gen Y learn very differently as compared to their previous generations. For example they do not like to learn in formal and long sessions such as a three days classroom based training session. They like to learn in short modules as the attention spans are short and even getting shorter. Companies are spending a lot of time in studying and getting insights into what is the most effective way of making all its employees learn.  It’s becoming clear that whilst there are some common principles and practices which make learning effective irrespective of any generation (such as learning by doing is more effective as compared to learning by observing, reading or being told). But there are certain generation specific learning needs and nuances. For example Baby boomers are not very comfortable with e-learning offerings they find dealing with technology and learning on it more stressful as compared to learning in a formal setting with a instructor and a workbook. Gen Y on other hand are absolutely comfortable and enjoy e-learning. They also find e-learning very suitable especially when they can take the session or a course anytime and anywhere. On anytime and anywhere learning – the Gen Y prefer to learn on-line during evening/nights as opposed to the Baby boomers who like to learn on-line during 9 to 5. I have seen companies figure out these generation specific needs and then design their learning content and offering for classroom and e-based learning offerings nicely and it’s only going to improve. But it’s important that you understand it and do something about it. Otherwise you won’t be able to create a true learning organization.

Most progressive organizations have moved to the 70-20=10 learning principle/practice.  Which means 10% is formal and class room based learning (including e-learning courses), 20% is leader led learning where leaders mentor and coach their employees and 70% is action learning where employees learn on the job (Formally and informally). What’s tricky and complex is that, when you go to the 20 and 70 part of learning in an organization. Coz if the leaders aren’t aware, sensitive or insightful about the learning needs, styles and preferences of their employees (mostly Gen Y) then the effectiveness could be compromised. I have seen some progressive companies build skills and technique of coaching and mentoring amongst their senior leaders and teach them how to be effective with employees of all generations. Doing this can be very helpful.

4)      They have their own set of beliefs and values. For example Gen Y people may not believe too much in being loyal to their organisation or the person they work for. They believe in being loyal to their job and their craft. They would rather focus on delivering terrific results compared to spending a lot of energy in managing all kinds of stakeholders. At times they want to change jobs and companies just for the sake of variety and different experience. They get bored very fast. They are responsive and communicative, but you have to figure out what’s their preferred channel of communication. They are informal and they don’t like hierarchy not that they are disrespectful, not at all!. Just because their beliefs aren’t in sync with yours – don’t ever judge them and pass value judgments on them.

Core values such as ethics, honesty, caring etc are not to be confused with the beliefs of different generations. Coz these core values remain sacrosanct and consistent across generations. And I have seen a very high standard of these core values even in Gen Y. There are always exceptions in every generation and they prove the rule.

In conclusion, I would say that the difference in generational thinking and beliefs isn’t something new – its existed for ever. It existed between you and your parents and it exists between you and your children. What’s important is to understand and respect these differences and not be dismissive of them. Any organization and its leaders – who make an effort to understand it and do something about it will only benefit and become more effective. The diversity in generations exists and is a reality – its all about being inclusive. What some organizations have effectively done to bridge the generational diversity gap is as follows:

  •  Work place innovation – The physical workplace can create or break many barriers. WIP is a very progressive concept about creating a hierarchy free, cool, efficient, environment friendly and sustainable workplace. WIP also caters for working from home, for example if you employ 100 people then the office has only 80 working seats and its free seating every day (assumption that at least 20% of employees will be away from work or working from home) and ofcourse you have top-notch technology which enables people to work from anywhere with just their laptop and mobile phone to connect them with work. Philips has been a pioneer in this regard and I live and work in it every day and I just love it!!
  • Policy making needs to be inclusive – Most progressive companies have policy formulation committees/groups which are represented by employees of diverse backgrounds(including gender, age, etc) and they are empowered to study and evolve polices for the company.
  • Reverse Mentoring – Many organizations have put the process and practice of reverse mentoring in place, where employees of younger generations mentor and coach senior level leaders on subjects and areas which are supposed to be strengths of the younger generation (such as social media, technology etc). Reverse mentoring actually helps senior level leaders understand the younger generation people better and vice versa.
  • Balance it nicely and don’t go overboard – To be inclusive it’s important to balance it nicely between needs of all generations. Some companies went overboard in creating a workplace which again became lopsided (more towards the needs of the younger generation) and that doesn’t help either. As it’s said, your customer diversity segmentation should also reflect in your organizations ratios – it helps.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”: Stephen R. Covey

Diversity & Inclusion; Challenge’s for India Inc – Part 1

Part – 1 (Gender Diversity Challenge)

I believe that, “diversity breeds 3Ps – Performance, Progress and Prosperity” the more diverse a team, organization, society, city or a country – the more rich, progressive and prosperous it is likely to be. Diversity is a reality that exists in the world, in which, we live and one cannot deny it. The key lies in including and leveraging the existing diversity. Let’s define diversity in simple terms, to me; it’s the uniqueness that people bring to the table. Uniqueness of thoughts, education, religion, ethnicity, country, culture, language, gender, generation, etc. Consider all these elements, and you will agree that, India is by far the most diverse country – it’s diverse and rich from every point of view. Hinduism is the major religion, but the highest number of Baptist residing in a country after USA is in India. Highest numbers of Muslims reside in India after Indonesia. On ethnicity, language, race, etc it’s very diverse. With a sex ratio of 1.06 its gender balanced. Consider age or generational diversity – with 50% of its population below the age of 25 years and 65% of it below the age of 35 years, India is one of the youngest nations of the world and is likely to remain so for a long time to come. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_India)

“At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time” : By Friedrich Nietzsche

Then what’s wrong with us? Why the corporate, government and the educational sectors amongst others are – found lacking and are challenged for creating a more diverse workplace. Is the problem that of diversity? Or that of inclusion? Lack of inclusion means, when one fails to include or leverage on the diversity that exists in their eco system. Well, in my opinion the problem is on both counts. For India Inc the challenge is mainly on two fronts; one is clearly Gender related; how to get more women talent in your organizations and second is related to having the mindset and capability of managing the increasing generational diversity in the workplace (younger people at work). Let’s discuss the two separately – Part 1 (Gender) and Part 2 (Generational).

Gender diversity challenge: Indian private and government sector is largely male dominated with few women employees working in them and even fewer at senior levels of the organizations. Some industries such as Banking, Hospitality, Media, ITES have made a steady progress and are relatively better than others. However, overall there is a serious gender diversity gap that exists in India Inc. So what are the top three myths, issues and challenges and their potential solutions? In my opinion, they are as follows:-

1)      The first issue – that, there isn’t enough women talent out there!! Well, this in my opinion is the biggest excuse that recruiters and hiring managers make and the only solution in my opinion is, that the senior management strongly role model and demand and make people sweat to source, assess and get good women talent, which is very much out there. Set gender diversity goals and targets for your company to achieve and link them to senior management pay/bonus. There is a gap in supply of women talent, especially when it comes to engineering and MBA talent. Top MBA and engineering colleges of India have a dismal 20% average women student intake in every batch (Source:http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-03-06/news/31127350_1_iim-kozhikode-gender-diversity-women-students ). But the good news is that the ratios are improving and fast. However this gap in supply cannot be cited as an excuse by companies whose diversity ratios are well below 10%. If you’re serious about diversity in your company, one should be able to source and hire at least 20% to 25% women talent from these institutes every year or for every batch of fresh talent that your company recruits from these top institutes. Lack of qualified women talent is indeed a challenge, but is also a mindset issue – coz we tend to use this lack of talent as an excuse. Once goals are set, which are SMART and linked to pay the excuse starts to vanish and things start to improve. I am fully aware that, companies and leaders are creating awareness and are putting enough pressure on these institutes to improve their student intake diversity ratios. In defense of these institutes, one must say that they are doing their best to improve without compromising with the merit and quality of students they admit.

 2)      The second myth is that, women cannot do frontline sales and service oriented jobs, especially in certain industries such as healthcare etc. I say, give me a break, and when you argue hard with people who possess such a discriminatory mindset – they soften their stand and then say, okay, “I stand corrected; women probably don’t want to do sales jobs as the conditions for doing these jobs are often hard and tough”. This in my opinion is a huge mindset problem and to my surprise it exists with men and women equally in organizations who making staffing and hiring decisions. Well the reality is that yes women compared to men or vice versa have their comfort zones and there are certain “dos” and “don’ts” applicable to both. For example, women folks do not feel safe and secure to travel or venture out on their own during early mornings or late nights – it’s a fact and we all know the reasons for it. Now if a country cannot guarantee safety of its women – it doesn’t mean that, women can’t or don’t want to do front line sales or service jobs. Medical devices and diagnostics industry requires its sales and service people to be on call during emergencies – but, let me also ask how many such emergencies are there. And if and when the emergencies come up, can an organization not make a suitable plan to ensure safety of its employees and/or have them covered by others who are comfortable doing it? I have seen this being effectively done by many good companies. Also it’s my experience and belief that if a woman isn’t comfortable doing a job – let me assure you a man won’t be comfortable doing it for long either. Therefore, this mindset and myth that women can and want to do certain jobs needs to be addressed and choice be left to women – the recruiters and staff planners need not make these decisions on their behalf.

3)      The third myth is that women employees aren’t stable enough (in tenure) as they depend a lot on their husband/spouses career and hence if the spouse moves and change their location the women (your employee) follow them. Also women take a lot of time off as they have to run and attend to their family emergencies, especially involving their kids. Well, I find this one – the biggest mindset problem in a male dominated organization and it’s a serious one. For those who have seen their mother, wife, sister or daughter work and balance a life as well, will appreciate and realize how regressive this mindset is. I have seen a large number of male colleagues leave the company and move locations because their spouses have re-located due to her progressing career. I am seeing increasing number of male colleagues take time off to attend a PTA meeting at their kid’s school or attend to ailing in-laws or other family emergencies. Yes by the nature of certain things women may be required to be at home a little more as compared to men. For example whilst on a maternity leave, or when the kids are small, etc. and this is a life cycle need of a family as compared to a need of the women alone. But the diversity and its benefits of having the women work for your organization outweighs her need to be continuously present at the workplace! (Not sure if continuous presence at workplace always helps – a subject for next blog I guess!)

I suggest the following common solutions for the abovementioned points and for enhancing Gender Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in your organization:

  • First and foremost make sure the top management is committed and the tone at the top is right. Create a common understanding and awareness on the advantages of doing it and the disadvantages of not doing it. Evolve a clear value proposition for enhancing and maintaining gender diversity in your organization: To build ownership for D&I in your organization people should be able to clearly understand and connect strongly with the organization’s objectives and intent.
  • Formal D&I policies and councils are important but what’s more important is having the right and shared guiding principles which will enable a conducive culture. As they say, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. Well even in case of D&I its very important that you have a clear plan and the required interventions for building the right culture for the diverse talent to revel and thrive in. Culture building isn’t easy and it takes time, also there are experts who can help you with this. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Do seek expert help if and when needed.
  • If the right culture exists then the talent that you have attracted will contribute and stay engaged. Attract women talent and whilst you work towards achieving the set D&I goals and targets make sure that merit is never compromised whilst hiring talent. It’s important to ensure that diversity hiring doesn’t become a tick mark exercise.
  • Seek to understand the needs of the women talent in your organization and then make policies in support of their genuine lifecycle needs. Benchmark practices and policies of best in class organization and then evolve policies and practices to match or better them.
  • Set clear and stretch goals to achieve your D&I objectives. Reward and recognize achievers formally/informally to motivate them and create role models out of them – for sake of continuous improvement and learning.
  • Authentic leadership, commitment and sincere efforts towards creating a diverse and an inclusive workplace, goes a long way in creating a culture and an employer brand, which attracts diverse talent and diversity in turn breed’s the 3Ps – Performance, Progress and Prosperity. So it makes a lot of business sense too!!

“What we have to do… is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities”: By Hillary Clinton