Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
9 leaders illustrate ways to create a more inclusive environment where everyone can thrive

9 leaders illustrate ways to create a more inclusive environment where everyone can thrive


Leaders from Allcargo Group, Comviva, Virtusa, PhonePe, Kenanga Investment Bank, and more talk about scaling women's participation in the economy as well as liberating them from societal expectations.

- Feature by Tracy Chan, with inputs from Aditi Sharma Kalra

Promoting gender parity and DEI shall not be limited to the workplace, but extend to everyday life. A change in mindset, therefore, is required in society, businesses, families, and most importantly, every individual.

In the last edition of our IWD 2024 series, nine leaders from India, Malaysia, and the US share their insights from real-life experiences.

While this year’s series may come to an end, the journey of creating a more diverse, equal and inclusive world is an ongoing process that needs collective efforts and intentions to drive it forward.

Echoing the theme of this year, let’s do our part to #InspireInclusion in every aspect of our lives.

Recap all stories for HRO's IWD 2024 series here.

Indrani Chatterjee, Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Allcargo Group

Career opportunities and choices for women professionals across all levels need to be multiplied if the country aims to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth. According to a McKinsey & Company report, only 25% of India's workforce is female and women contribute just 18% to the country's GDP. Growing women’s participation in the labour force on a par with that of men is likely to boost India's GDP by 27%, as per a study by International Monetary Fund.

As India is working towards taking the GDP to $7tn by 2030, gender parity in the workforce needs to be prioritised. The government is rightly focusing on developing women labour force participation and women entrepreneurship to make economic growth far reaching. The enabling policy, mobility and infrastructure support are all welcome moves.

However, we’ll be able to scale up women participation in the economy in the true sense of the term when we’ll be able to liberate women from societal expectations. The family and the community must extend helping hands so that women can continue to work without any feeling of guilt and that support system is crucial to women professionals across industries.

Pratiti Bhaumik, Senior Vice President – HR Corporate, Virtusa

Empathy, inclusion and collaboration are the essential traits of impactful leadership. They foster a culture of equal opportunities and respect, regardless of gender, race, age etc.

At Virtusa, we believe in nurturing the growth mindset of our employees and actively ensuring that every voice is heard, every idea is valued, and every woman can thrive. As a woman leader, I strongly feel that growth is not just about career and comp progression, it is largely about having a free hand to create an impactful environment for the younger workforce – and that is how we pave the way for future generations of women leaders.

This year, as we celebrate International Women's Day with a focus on Inspire Inclusion, women leaders must unite. They inspire others through their work, break barriers, challenge stereotypes, innovate and pave the way for diversity to be celebrated as our key to success.

P. Rajendran, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate (SPRE)

Historically, women were often perceived as influencers rather than decision-makers in property transactions and investments. However, there has been a notable shift, with women emerging as powerful decision-makers in the realm of real estate. We are witnessing a significant transformation as the real estate industry, once dominated by men, now embraces the significant presence and influence of women. This transformation is evident as women increasingly take the lead in financial choices, transitioning from traditional investments like fixed deposits and gold to real estate. This shift offers them a heightened sense of stability, independence, and the opportunity to generate returns through rental income or capital appreciation.

From understanding intricate financial nuances to reshaping the dynamics of property choices, women are rewriting the narrative in real estate. Various factors, such as lower stamp duty rates, concessions on property registration charges, access to schemes like PMAY, higher loan eligibility, specialised loan products from banks and financial institutions, along with offers from developers for women home buyers, play pivotal roles in encouraging women to invest in real estate.

We, too, have witnessed a growing number of women investors across all our projects. With increased incomes and improved access to resources, women now perceive real estate ownership not just as a practical choice but as a strategic means to safeguard their financial futures and foster wealth creation.

Vaishnavi Shukla, HR Head, Comviva

We acknowledge the remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication of women in the fast-growing tech and telecom industry, and we take immense pride in the resilience and invaluable contributions of women within our workforce. Our dedicated programmes ensure women are supported at each of the crucial stages and milestones of their life and that they have equal opportunities to thrive and contribute meaningfully to our organisation's success.

We are constantly engaged in accelerating our women leader’s careers and creating a workplace where every voice is valued and heard. From our comprehensive campus hiring programs to internal growth and promotions to an overall wellbeing intervention at each stage, we ensure a bias free mindset. As a result of this, our gender diversity ratio has seen a rise of ~4% and we are absolutely thrilled about it.

Comviva has put significant efforts in creating an enabling environment for female employees to grow where they can upskill themselves despite the daily challenges and we have made every stride towards that direction. Our commitment to supporting working mothers is demonstrated through comprehensive maternity leave benefits and on-site creche facilities at our offices. At Comviva, we are dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment where every woman can thrive and contribute meaningfully to our collective achievements.

Archana Jahagirdhar, Managing Partner, Rukam Capital

It's heartening to see more and more women taking up entrepreneurship and have seen many women achievers creating successful businesses and delivering excellent value to all stakeholders. The challenges in the startup ecosystem are immense for everyone irrespective of gender but have seen the contribution of women are unique and their capabilities are essential and provide an extra edge to the entire team across different functions.

As India's growth story continues to march forward, we do see a much greater contribution from women in Indian businesses and entrepreneurial spirit.

Keisha Bell, Managing Director, Head of Talent Management and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), DTCC

On International Women's Day, we renew our commitment to fostering a workplace where every voice is heard, every talent is recognised, and every woman has the opportunity to rise.

At DTCC, we stand firm in our dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is through the collective strength of all voices that we drive innovation, inspire change, and shape a brighter future for generations to come. Our vision is clear: to foster an environment where every voice is welcomed and valued.

One area of focus has been addressing the concept of the "broken rung" phenomenon, which can hinder women's progress as they climb the career ladder. Through initiatives like DTCC's Emerging Women Leaders (EWL) programme, we've worked tirelessly to provide women with the support, mentorship, and networking opportunities they need to excel. And our efforts have yielded tangible results: our analysis has shown that participating in mentorship activities and programmes like EWL directly correlates with increased networking diversity and career advancement.

Further, through initiatives like the Girls Who Code programme and our DTCC Future Stars programme, we aim to provide opportunities for young women to learn, network and explore future career opportunities. By fostering mentorship, education, and support, we believe in creating a more equitable and inclusive environment where women can thrive and contribute their talents to our collective success.

This International Women’s Day, we reaffirm our commitment to the pursuit of gender equality and empowerment in the workplace and beyond. Together, we can continue to drive positive change and build a future where every individual has the opportunity to thrive in a fair working environment.

Manmeet Sandhu, Head of HR, PhonePe

At PhonePe we are committed to creating an environment where diversity, empathy, and collaboration drive organisational excellence. Emotional intelligence is a core skill that fosters an inclusive and collaborative environment. Being able to recognise and regulate emotions is enabling and empowering, and like any other skill it can be developed.

This Women's Day at PhonePe, we are demystifying the term and bringing it in the open. We are conducting panel discussions and workshops to acknowledge the pivotal role emotional intelligence plays in fostering a workplace where women can thrive. By cultivating emotional intelligence, we not only empower women to excel but also create an environment where diversity, empathy, and collaboration drive organisational excellence and success.

Rupa Roy, Marketing Director, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence ASEAN, Pacific and Korea

As the global economy is changing, 75% of jobs in the fastest-growing industries such as Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence require workforce with STEM skills. Automation and new jobs are emerging every day as a result of technological advances. In empowering more women in STEM, we foster mentorship programmes as a culture within Hexagon.

Within my team, I create opportunities to encourage my teammates to apply problem-solving, creativity and critical analysis skills to enhance their communication and teamwork in their daily working life.

Promoting STEM for women requires concerted efforts at various levels, including education, industry, and policymaking. By creating inclusive environments, providing support and opportunities for advancement, and challenging stereotypes and biases, we can empower women to thrive in STEM fields and contribute to innovation and progress.

Nik Hasniza Nik Ibrahim, Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Kenanga Investment Bank

With a visionary and formidable female founder, Tan Sri Tengku Noor Zakiah, at the helm, and operating with a 51% female workforce despite being in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Kenanga's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is deeply ingrained in our vibrant workplace culture. Our approach to inspiring inclusion includes bringing everyone together, fostering unity through robust employee engagement initiatives and proudly celebrating cultural festivities that reflect the rich diversity within our organisation.

Additionally, our commitment is reflected in the diverse representation we strive for in key management roles, ensuring that different voices contribute to our decision-making processes. These efforts embody our dedication to creating an equitable and empowered workplace where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed and thrive.

All photos / Provided

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