Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance has appointed its first chief diversity and inclusion officer with Anup Seth. The objective is to step up efforts to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive over the next three years.
The life insurance company, which employs over 3000 people pan India, has plans to bring in more women employees to the workforce for various roles. The Company intends to increase women’s participation from 27 to 35 per cent in the next three years.
To make the workplace more inclusive, the Company had launched a wellbeing for women (WOW) platform, which is a flagship programme for engaging with women employees. There is an interesting anecdote behind the origin of WOW at Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance. In 2019, during the company-wide engagement survey, it was found that the engagement rate with women employees, especially at the head office, was low as compared to the overall engagement score which stood at 75 per cent.
To address this issue, focussed group sessions were organised, where discussions revealed the need for a common platform, where women employees could network, learn from each other and share their experiences without being judged.
Later, this forum was further extended to all the women employees across India, including the head office. It started as an exercise to allow women to interact with each other on gender-specific issues such as imposter syndrome, equality of opportunities, need for mentoring and so on. However, with time, it ballooned into a bigger platform, wherein men and women in leadership roles engaged with this cohort on a quarterly basis.
“We cater to a diverse set of customers in the country, and we understand that to be sustainable, having a diverse workforce is a must”
Anup Seth, chief diversity and inclusion officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance
The introduction of WOW has really shown some positive results. The overall women’s engagement rate has increased to 84 per cent in 2020, from 67 per cent in 2019. Moreover, the engagement rate of women working at the head office (HO) has increased to 70 per cent in 2020, from 39 per cent in 2019.
The women’s leadership-development programme was a branch that emerged from the WOW programme. This initiative, on an average, sees 40 future women leaders get selected and avail opportunities to move further up the corporate ladder.
The Company has also decided that it will aim to increase the participation of differently-abled people in the workforce by five per cent over a period of five years. Talking to HRKatha, Seth shares that the recruitment and HR teams are networking with many organisations and NGOs to source and attract some of the best talent from the differently-abled lot and include them in the workforce.
As Seth reveals to HRKatha, “Simply hiring and onboarding differently-abled people is not enough. As a Company, we aim to create an environment where such people can thrive, succeed and move up the ladder”. Edelweiss wishes to help each one develop their career in the true sense of the word.
To make this possible, Seth says that the Company has first identified some of the roles where differently-abled individuals can add value — HR, product management and customer service — across functions in the organisation.
In fact, Edelweiss Tokio has re-defined the roles taking into account the different skills and unique behaviours that differently-abled individuals can add bring to the table, to add new flavours to the role.
During the evaluation process, differently-abled individuals will not be evaluated as per the usual standards, or as any other individual gets evaluated. They will be evaluated on the basis of newly-defined job roles for them.
“In fact, as we speak, our HR teams and recruiters are being currently trained on evaluating differently-abled people,” says Seth.
Seth further adds that hiring is not the only motive. The end goal is to provide a healthy working environment to differently-abled persons. In due course, Edelweiss will come up with various policies and career-development programmes meant for the differently-abled, so that they do not just get hired but also see success in their professional life, as per the strengths and skills they bring to the table.
Removal of bias
To make the workplace more diverse and inclusive, removing biases is another area that requires focus. For this, the Company has an audit mechanism process called ‘bias interrupters’, where, like the WOW platform, feedback is collected from many forums and teams. The mechanism was developed to understand the different biases at the workplace and mitigate them. “All such biases whether in recruitment, sourcing or onboarding, are discussed at the CXO level and addressed accordingly,” reveals Seth.
“We cater to a diverse set of customers in the country, and we understand that to be sustainable, having a diverse workforce is a must,” concludes Seth.