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"Our Employees Belong To Infosys Irrespective Of Individual Differences," Richard Lobo
Company leaders play a critical role as employees look to leaders to exemplify behavior as well as set direction. For establishing a truly inclusive culture, we need both leadership involvement as well as actions that go beyond words.
To attract the best talent and create a diverse and inclusive workplace, the company has instituted several programs to create an inclusive, safe, and harassment-free workplace. And, Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President and Head of HR at Infosys is here to talk at length about all these initiatives, laying utmost emphasis at Infosys's iPride initiative.
1. What are Infosys’s views on a diverse and inclusive culture as a driver of productivity at work?
Our view is that helping our employees belong to Infosys irrespective of individual differences is crucial to the diverse, inclusive workplace we are building for today and for the future. Our goal is to create a workplace culture that will ensure every employee shows up authentically, as their full selves, in a professional setting contributing to the purpose as well as enjoying what they do.
Having a diverse workplace improves the quality of work and brings out the best in every employee. Allowing for diversity to become an integral part of your people strategy fosters better understanding among employees and increases the pool of innovative ideas. As we move ahead, the workplace will evolve, progress and advance — not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of its humanness. At Infosys, we believe in a diverse workforce where employees feel comfortable and contribute irrespective of differences. We feel that this is important both from the perspective of the core values the company is founded on, as well as an imperative to drive business value. We also view a diverse workforce as a huge advantage to the organization and the employees. To attract the best talent and create a diverse and inclusive workplace, the company has instituted several programs to create an inclusive, safe, and harassment-free workplace. The diversity initiative at Infosys adopts a multipronged approach comprising of emotional assistance, infrastructure support and inclusive policies to help all our employees achieve career and life goals.
2. What are some of the initiatives Infosys has in place to ensure that there is a culture of diversity and inclusion at the workplace?
At Infosys, we look at encouraging multiple Employee Resource Groups (ERG) that encourage employees to participate in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with our purpose. In addition, we also look at taking up specific initiatives that will help progress towards our larger goal of having a workplace that encourages participation and innovation from all. Some examples:
o iPride ERG comprises members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. It provides the support framework to strengthen learning and awareness and institutionalize policies and practices within the organization for a safe and respectful work environment for employees from the community. The intent is to bring employees from the community together to have a dialogue on various internal processes and policies that affect them. The focus at Infosys is to ensure that employees have a safe and harassment-free workplace, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ERG gives employees a platform to come together and discuss on matters of importance. Our initiatives consist of creating awareness and sensitivity, training employees, fostering, and encouraging networks where employees can find common ground.
o Infyability is yet another employee resource group (ERG) formed, for employees with disability that aims to create a safe, accessible and inclusive work environment. It addresses specific needs towards recruitment, development, engagement, growth, and retention of employees with disability, by promoting an inclusive workplace where the skills and knowledge of each employee are valued and respected.
We are also investing in learning interventions for our employees that look forward to creating the next set of leaders. Some examples:
o Women in Management (WIM) is an immersive, 3-day, residential workshop focusing on building competencies in self, teams, clients, and business. Owing to the pandemic, this intervention was conducted virtually this year and saw over 100 women participating in various batches. Additionally, special facilitator-led workshops for women included, striking the right balance; emotions at work; power play; inclusive manager; accelerating her achievements (AHA); emerging me (EMME).
o #IamTheFuture is a program organized by Infosys Leadership Institute that is focused on training women for leadership roles and accelerating their readiness for these roles. It fosters an inclusive ecosystem and culture. Designed as a year-long program, in partnership with Stanford University, it provides holistic development opportunities for our women leaders globally.
o Orbit Next is our program to strengthen the talent pipeline of women in middle management. Over 150+ women are part of this program currently and these efforts have seen women advancing in their careers with us. Our overall women representation in the workforce is increasing consistently.
o We run regular communication campaigns, conduct workshops, talks with experts, etc. to promote awareness about diversity in the workplace. We have 3 robust courses on how to be a good ally to the LGBTQIA+ members and we communicate regularly about these courses to all our employees.
We have also looked at a specific program to encourage more women to join the workforce.
o Restart with Infosys was launched in 2018 to focus on hiring women from career breaks, which could be for any duration and any reason. The program includes a component of learning and competency building, strong mentoring and working on client projects to give these women the support and confidence required to transition back to their careers.
3. Why is it important to have such groups/communities in an organization?
We believe it is important to have ERGs as they connect people and increase understanding. This helps build trust and a sense of belonging and encourage those who might otherwise feel marginalized to come forward and contribute to the company. Having such groups is the first step in acknowledging diversity and increasing our learning about differences. Through these learnings, we have been able to drive change towards improving the workplace as well as our culture. This is a continuing journey, and we are encouraged by the participation from across levels in the organization.
4. How has this initiative impacted the organization? Please highlight few benefits of the initiative such as this.
Collaborations with the iPride ERG have enabled us to roll out important interventions across our India operations including:
a. Gender-neutral washrooms: Gender-neutral washrooms across all our India campuses and some of our offices around the world.
b. An enhanced Health Insurance Plan for our employees based in India – the plan covers partners (same-sex, domestic, civil) as dependents, gender conformation surgeries, coverage for surrogacy, egg freezing procedures and mental health therapy.
c. Leadership skills development platform: Recently we launched the virtual iPRIDE Toastmasters Club globally. The club has received great feedback from employees and focuses on building communication and leadership skills of its members.
5. What role does leadership play in fostering and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment at work?
Our learning has been that for us to succeed in our endeavor of developing a diverse and inclusive workplace, we need both a top-down and bottom-up approach. We first had our leadership team to fully support and encourage our ERGs. All our employee groups have a senior leader as the executive sponsor and a full participant. This encourages more employees to join as members or allies. Also, it helps the members of the group to aim for higher goals as well as smoothens impediments that might slow down the progress. Company leaders play a critical role as employees look to leaders to exemplify behavior as well as set direction. For establishing a truly inclusive culture, we need both leadership involvement as well as actions that go beyond words.
6. How do you see iPRIDE collaborating with other ERGs at Infosys?
It’s important for us that various ERGs collaborate with each other to maximize the impact and inclusivity of their efforts. For example, we encourage employees to become members of multiple groups as allies. We also invite wider audiences for discussions relating to workplace issues or for learning about the challenges faced. Most of our professional development programs are open to a wider audience so that they are inclusive. We also aim to connect the groups to plan events together – for networking, pooling of resources as well as increasing effectiveness.