Being a daughter to a father with a government job in India, in a family of six, Shanthi has moved cities and has had a taste of diversity at a very young age. An eclectic mix and equality were a cultural lifestyle for her long before she became the head of HR at Google Cloud India.
“My childhood’s biggest lesson was – let girls be girls!”
Shanthi’s family never fell prey to the web of discrimination. She and her siblings were presented with equal opportunities and granted indistinguishable to pursue their careers irrespective of their genders.
“A career in HR was serendipity and not a deliberate decision,” says Shanthi, who dabbled in zoology before choosing human resources.
Getting a job right after college was an unsaid rule in her family. Her academic excellence led one thing to another, and eventually, a career in HR was pierced through various courses of action. “Right after my post-graduation, I landed a job at Visteon. From then till now with Google, it has been a dream run, “Shanthi reminisces.
“Awards are an outcome – these are endorsements and validation for the work we do,” says Shanthi when asked about the many accolades that Pegasystems (one of the companies she has worked for) has earned.
We should be the best place to work for women; that is the brand recall value that they want to establish. This brand ethic is what led to the company’s conscious approach to building a workforce based on equality and diversity. “The multiple awards that we have received are testimony to the intent that leadership had,” gratifies Shanthi.
Giving people that feeling of being equal, that they will always have that special place. Making everybody feel that they’re equally valued is the “secret sauce.”
Emphasising equality Shanthi states, “Equality and equity are different. The key is to keep them both at the front and centre of everything that you do in an organization.”
“There are two E’s and one I; the two E’s being executive sponsorship and education. You have to go out and educate everybody. I is for intent. Once you have the executive sponsorship and the educated people, you have to be truly intentional about anything that you do, “she continues to enlighten about how new organizations can incorporate equality.
Diversity and Inclusion are more than an HR agenda.
“Diversity is a business imperative. Your customers are diverse. You do not choose your customers. Similarly, you must incorporate the same into your workforce. After all, organizations are mirrors of society,” says Shanthi. Sharing her personal stance on diversity, Shanthi says that it is a no-brainer for her and that, in over a decade, society has come a long way as far as equality and diversity in the workplace are concerned.
“The biggest obstacle in diversity and inclusion is that if somebody is looking for a tangible ROI, that may not be possible immediately,” says Shanthi, giving us a quantitative insight.
The effect of change in mentality and sensitization has a compounding effect. “One of the roadblocks in implementing diversity and inclusion is that it can take a few years to show results,” shared Shanthi. Furthermore, the self-reflection into understanding why one should commit to this journey is another obstacle organizations have to overcome as a whole.
“Our policies were never one size fits all. When we looked at women, we actually segmented them by their life stages,” enlightens Shanthi about how they retain the female workforce in the middle and top management levels.
The establishment of ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) has been helpful in the process. The collective effort of like-minded individuals is what commences and brings about equality for women in the workplace. Talking about diverse solutions, Shanthi shares her personal opinion. “While daycares are an optimal solution for mothers, it may not apply to someone like me with grown-up children.” Furthermore, she continues, “It is important to reflect on the policies and the structured system within to maximize their impact.”
Gender and merit: a dichotomy that still remains unresolved.
“Nobody wakes up and says – let’s discriminate.” Shanthi takes a satiric stance on being asked about gender and equal opportunities. “At Pegasystems we looked at gender pay parity and performance rating parity to check if any unconscious biases come in the way,” she shares. Women are conditioned by societal bonds, but we have to encourage positive reinforcement at management levels to support them.”
In her closing remarks, she says, “Every diverse group of people should grab the opportunities they get.” As for organizations, she says, “They should have sponsorship and mentorship programmes for women. These are the building blocks of an organisation and not just mere jargon,” she concludes.
International Women’s Day Summit – Shakti
The celebration of Women’s Day 2021 at KelpHR was marked by a panel of influential individuals who came forward for a forthright discussion on the matter of global importance – women’s empowerment – a subject matter that is far from saturation. Gender discrimination, hostile workplace environment, disability rights and quantitative solutions and more were a part of one of these dialogues and panels at the IWD 2022 – Shakti by KelpHR.
At KelpHR we believe that having a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is the key to business transformation and growth and that we must be inclusive of all persons irrespective of any differences. To know more about KelpHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion solutions do call us at +91-95001-29652, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.kelphr.com
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at email@example.com, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.