CHRO Of THe Year: Anjali Raghuvanshi “Conversation Around Wellness Was Normalised”

Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People’s Officer, Randstad, talks about her inspirations, and pathbreaking initiatives that have created an impact in the organisation, in an interview to Sugandh B


Congratulation on being chosen as the Woman CHRO of the Year. Can you give us a glimpse of your journey? And what you are aiming for next?

I feel extremely good being recognised as the CHRO of the year. I think I have a lot of people from CHRO fraternity, CEOs and other experienced people in the industry from whom I have learned a lot. I have been inspired by Leena Nair who became the CEO of Chanel, from being CHRO. Today CHROs are partners with the CEOs and are watching the businesses. I got the privilege to work with Prabir Jha in my previous organisation. I also worked with Vikram Bector in my previous company. I learnt quite a bit from all of them. From Prabir, I learnt the way of self-branding, and how to brand yourself as a competent HR professional. From Vikram, I learnt how an empathetic leader is. Outside the industry, I look up to the people who put humanity as their biggest anchor.

What are the initiatives evolved by you and your team that made a big difference in the organisation?

It has been six years for me in this role. I have a team which has been working with me for quite a time. So, we picked up three main areas: First, we chose wellness as not about signing up with the platforms and agencies. I look at the way how the conversation evolves around wellness. It is about the taboos around wellness, especially mental wellbeing where people hesitate to talk about their mental issues, and how the stress of their family front is affecting their work. This conversation is getting normalised and I feel proud about it.

The second area that we focus on is conscious inclusion; the conversation that sheds biases. We all have been taught to see from a certain perspective that HR role is done well by women while business can be worked out by men. Also age — that an experienced individual would not fit in certain roles. These are the biases we want to shed. We can start with HR as a function because we are the gatekeepers in an organisation and we work very closely with the people while they are in the organisation. We have groups like ‘saying forward’, ‘men forward’, and ‘women forward’ where people can come and discuss the matter concerned to them. These are the ways we build conversations and a sense of belonging.

Lastly, there is equity. Flexibility is one way for us to bring about equity because we understand that everybody has their need. The reason why people think that women are not apt for business leadership roles is that they think women cannot be available 24*7 , but there is no need to be available; rather it is important to deliver those outcomes. So, we brought paternity leave for three months for men to bring about a more equitable environment because the child is no more only a women’s responsibility. We brought in ‘work from anywhere’ for a month. We have introduced flexible work hours for women, we let them decide what are the most productive hours for them to ensure them that it is an equitable environment. That is why we have 50 per cent diversity in our organisation.

As a leader you must have come across many challenges during and post-pandemic. How did you overcome those challenges? What was your core strength throughout that period?

If I recollect the whole experience during 2020, one of the biggest concerns of the employees was what happens to their jobs. So, my first concern was how to shift the focus from fear and anxiety to something which is more productive. That’s where we brought their focus into the works because sometimes when a person is not happy in their personal life, work becomes one means to channelise their energy in the right direction.

We owned one mantra throughout that period – ‘to look for continuous opportunity out of crisis’ - no matter if you have not reached the target you intended.

There were people joining in during the pandemic. We wanted to offer them a sense of belonging in the virtual world, and we wanted to make them realise that no matter whether we all are stuck in our bedroom or living room but we all are working for one brand. We worked on the mantra ‘Together we can, together we will and together we win’.

We did not let any of our employees lose their salary through the pandemic and lockdown. This assured them that we are an organisation which takes care. That is why we did not suffer during 2021 as an organisation, people stayed with us through the journey we have been through.

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