"We Recognise Different Vulnerabilities"

Ruchi Bhalla, Country Head - India Delivery Centers and Vice President, Human Resources (Asia Pacific), Pitney Bowes India Pvt. Ltd, shares her organisation’s efforts towards inclusivity


Pitney Bowes India Pvt has invested in patiently listening to experiences of various marginalised groups, and builds on its policies based on these narratives. Ruchi Bhalla describes how this approach has shown results, and how the organisation measures the impact through regular surveys. 

What are some of the landmark initiatives that Pitney Bowes has launched to further the cause of diversity and inclusion? 

At Pitney Bowes India, we look at inclusion from the lens of intersectionality. Intersectionality recognises that individuals experience challenges based on multiple and intersecting identities, including age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. By sharing employee stories under three broad pillars – ‘education and awareness’, ‘listen and share’, and ‘celebrating wins’, we try to highlight the different voices in the organisation. Our intersectional approach has also helped us focus on vulnerable groups, including those coming from marginalised backgrounds and small towns. The focus is on recognising that each person has different vulnerabilities. 

Our women’s leadership accelerator programme focuses on nurturing and developing high-potential women in India. Pitney Bowes India is one of the first few organisations in the country to encourage ‘blind applications’ from candidates that allows applicants to choose to omit their first or last name from the applications along with other sensitive information such as age and gender. We have also been a strong ally to the LGBTQI+ community and launched a ‘new special parenting leave policy’ where all employees, regardless of gender (including LGBTQ+), are eligible to 26 weeks of paid leave if they legally adopt a child or become parents through surrogacy. 

What specific problem areas and challenges did you specifically address?

For programmes to be authentic, they need to be personalised and iterative. When we are talking about diversity in a hybrid model, we are talking about two sets of people – one who are in the room and the other who are behind the screen. We as an organisation needed to make sure that our programmes were weaving in all perspectives, all voices, whether across the table or across the phone, and ensure that everyone is equally represented.

We trained our managers to be empathetic and better listeners. We conducted several trainings to help leaders understand and minimise their biases, including ‘bystander interventions’ and ‘empathetic leadership’ workshops, so that they can be aware of their own biases and biases of those within their teams. 

Can you describe company policies and sensitisation training provided to employees to address biases?  

Leaders need to be cognizant of their own inherent biases as well as their teammates and make a conscious effort to minimise their interference in daily conduct. Creating a culture of merit, where only talent matters and having role models to look up to, so that people have the courage to innovate, be inspired, and achieve their goals, had enabled sustainable inclusion.

Along with the ‘bystander’ and ‘empathetic leadership’ trainings mentioned earlier, we have a dedicated DIBE programme (diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity), a targeted initiative to help everyone, including leaders, managers, and teams learn more and actively practice diversity and inclusion, eliminate unconscious biases and create belonging. 

How does the organisation deal with sexual harassment, or body shaming, racial, religious or caste-specific slur or any other misconduct based on caste, colour, creed or gender? 

At Pitney Bowes, we have zero tolerance towards sexual harassment. We treat each other and all with whom we do business with courtesy, fairness, respect, and dignity. We have a dedicated internal complaints committee to protect and prevent sexual harassment at the workplace and for the redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and matters connected to it. 

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

We conduct several Pulse surveys through the year to get feedback on various initiatives as we run them and we tweak them to meet the needs of our people. Our Annual Employee Engagement Survey is an integral tool that tells us how our employees are doing and provides insights about what they think is going well and what we can do better. Inputs from the survey are discussed at the firm-, regional- and local team level. They are cascaded down to each person within organisation to help them understand their role in the success of the company.  

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

An inclusive environment must be consciously tailored and nurtured. D&I programmes have to be personalised and authentic. Organisations need to identify the layers of intersectionality that disadvantage certain groups, acknowledge them, and make everyone feel equally represented. Ensuring that all perspectives and voices are heard goes a long way in building a supportive and inclusive workplace. 

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

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