DEI, Part Of Our Credo

Gopinath Pullaihgari, Director & Head - Human Resources, Verizon India, describes his company’s philosophy and principles regarding inclusion.


What have been some of the novel initiatives in your organisation to ensure diversity and inclusion?

We, at Verizon India, are an equitable workplace where 6,500+ talented people from diverse backgrounds collaborate, inspire one another, and bring their authentic selves to and build together networks, products and solutions that better the lives of our customers and communities. Their combined intelligence, spirit and creativity makes Verizon a great place to work, learn and grow. Diversity, equity and inclusion are a part of our credo and our philosophy is guided by diversity principles, policies and practices that activate our commitment as an equal opportunity employer. 

At Verizon India we have a robust framework to foster a culture that is diverse and inclusive. We have strong set of women friendly policies (maternity policy, GRW, mystical motherhood programme), gender diversity hiring drives and women returnee programme, to name a few. 

How did the organisation evolve policies to ensure that all the employees understand the D&I ethos, and what kind of sensitisation training is provided to them?  

We have the below-mentioned mandatory ‘inclusion’ training for all our employees, that ensures a respectable workplace where everyone feels involved, valued and belonged even in the hybrid model. The trainings are: 

Unconscious Bias: A mandatory 2.5 hours training module for all employees, that is closely monitored and reviewed for completion by the leadership team. Identifying and addressing microaggressions: As a part of allyship, leaders at Verizon India are proactively identifying and addressing any form of microaggression in everyday work. By demonstrating and leading the way they create an inclusive culture with a strong sense of allyship among V teamers.

New Joiners Induction programme: Induction programmes are conducted, on the key aspects pertaining to – Verizon’s credo, code of conduct, open door policy, non-retaliation policy, the importance of “see something say something”, dealing with difficult situations, how to report incidences of discrimination and , harassment was are covered. 

What specific measures do you take in the case of sexual harassment, or body shaming, racial, religious or caste-specific slur or any other misconduct based on caste, colour, creed or gender?  

Verizon’s credo, code of conduct, open door policy and Non-retaliation policy addressed the importance of “See something say something”, dealing with difficult situations, how to report incidences of discrimination and harassment. Additionally, as per our internal compliance requirement, the POSH Policy is reviewed annually and updated based on any changes in the Act or any other relevant best practices in the industry. There is also a robust awareness programme in place to ensure adherence and awareness of the policy.

What kind of support did you get across the board? Also, did you meet resistance at any level?  

The DEI strategy starts with leadership’s commitment and shared responsibility across the entire organisation. Business leaders are accountable for leading and driving practices, programmes that accentuate gender diversity in all roles. Leaders are executive sponsors for the DEI programmes to support growth and development of women talent at various stages of their career. We have a diversity equity and inclusion executive council that comprises leaders who are executive sponsors for initiatives from various business groups along with the DEI Lead and HR Business Partners to drive our robust Diversity & Inclusion charter across the organisation. This approach emphasises and exemplifies high potential talent across diverse groups and talent strata and equips them to be decision makers. As a part of this approach we curate a holistic set of initiatives that focuses on nurturing, supporting and enabling women talent to grow into leadership roles. The DEI executive council is equally focused on all other facets of Diversity including PwD, LGBTQ+ Veterans, etc. 

What has been the impact of the initiative/s taken? Has the organisation conducted a survey to assess the impact?

Through these set of initiatives, today, Verizon India has 30 per cent gender diversity, nearly 50 PwD employees, over 16 sensitisation sessions for PwD and LGBTQ+ reaching out to 1,000+ employees and training programmes like unconscious bias, allyship programmes etc., creating a strong culture of inclusion and belongingness in the organisation.  

What is the way forward for more diverse and inclusive workplaces?

We at Verizon India are intentional to create an inclusive V Teamer experience by implementing focused, segmented DEI approaches and programmes that will continue to offer necessary levers across levels for 6,500+ employees from diverse backgrounds to grow, collaborate and be inspired. 

(The interview appeared in the August Issue of BW People publication)

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