Niva Bupa’s merit-based approach challenges gender stereotypes in sales

The company is creating an environment where women can excel and contribute to the organisation's growth in all functions, including sales

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Traditionally, certain domains or functions within organisations, such as the manufacturing or sales departments, have been perceived as being male dominated. However, these stereotypes are being shattered with a new wave of progressiveness entering the workforce. While sales roles have historically been associated with male dominance, the landscape is evolving. In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the presence of women in sales, injecting the field with fresh perspectives, valuable skills and a track record of success.

Tarun Katyal, CHRO, Niva Bupa, admits that there has been a growing focus on women employees and their involvement in sales roles. Niva Bupa, a forward-thinking organisation, is actively working towards promoting gender diversity and creating an inclusive environment for all employees. 

With a 14 per cent to 19 per cent increase in last three years, the company has made remarkable strides in improving diversity. Additionally, the company has experienced significant growth in its part-time headcount, now employing over 4000 individuals. There are more than 100 women in the workforce, holding various management positions, accounting for approximately two per cent of the overall managerial roles. Furthermore, Katyal shares that the firm values part-time employment, offering flexibility to individuals who may have dependents to take care of or personal commitments that prevent them from working full-time.

“Performance is a key driver at Niva Bupa, and the company has implemented a scorecard system to define and measure success. This scorecard aligns company-wide goals with individual performance objectives, ensuring employees are accountable for achieving targets. Performance and development go hand in hand, driving career growth and bonuses based on individual and company performance”

Tarun Katyal, CHRO, Niva Bupa

In an industry where the prevailing assumption is that sales roles are predominantly held by men, Niva Bupa defies this norm as a merit-based organisation that assigns roles without regard to gender, according to Katyal’s beliefs.

The company recognises the importance of fostering diversity at all levels, including women leaders and executives. Katyal says, “Through an internal mentoring programme, Niva Bupa aims to empower women employees, led by the CEO himself. This internal mentoring programme focuses on enhancing their business acumen by providing guidance on crucial skills such as reading financial statements, understanding company strategies and identifying growth opportunities. By equipping women with these essential tools, Niva Bupa seeks to cultivate their success in sales roles and enable them to advance within the organisation.”

Katyal further adds that Niva Bupa’s commitment to continuous learning extends to all employees, irrespective of gender. The company offers comprehensive learning and development programmes tailored to individuals at every level.

Transitional training: According to Katyal, one notable programme is the Fresh Managers Programme, a mandatory course for those transitioning from individual contributor roles to managerial positions. This programme equips managers with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their new roles, emphasising effective leadership and decision-making.

Talent development: Recognising the importance of talent development, the company has implemented an internal talent pipeline-building initiative. This initiative dentifies individuals with potential at specific levels and provides them with personalised development plans. By nurturing and fostering the growth of these individuals, Niva Bupa ensures a smooth transition into new positions, further promoting gender diversity in sales roles.

Katyal explains that to maintain fairness and objectivity in evaluating employees seeking to transition from individual contributor roles, Niva Bupa conducts in-house selection processes through its assessment centre. These processes involve online assessments, interviews and performance evaluations, enabling unbiased evaluations and supporting employees’ professional growth.

Mentoring: Building upon the success of previous initiatives, Niva Bupa has also recently launched an enhanced mentoring programme. This programme facilitates connections between employees and leaders from various departments, allowing participants to gain cross-functional business acumen.  Topics covered range from people management to shaping company culture and fostering employee engagement. By providing opportunities for employees to learn from industry leaders, Niva Bupa empowers them to thrive in their roles and contribute to the organisation’s growth. 

Learning & development: Talking about the resources provided by the organisation, Katyal says, “Niva Bupa places great emphasis on ongoing learning and development. The company offers a variety of resources to support employees’ professional growth, including the Learning Portal. Through partnerships with platforms such as Coursera, employees have access to online courses that they can complete at their own pace. By providing evidence of course completion, employees can further enhance their skills and knowledge.”

Scorecard: “Performance is a key driver at Niva Bupa, and the company has implemented a scorecard system to define and measure success. This scorecard aligns company-wide goals with individual performance objectives, ensuring employees are accountable for achieving targets. Performance and development go hand in hand, driving career growth and bonuses based on individual and company performance,” opines Katyal.

Niva Bupa remains committed to promoting gender diversity and fostering an inclusive culture within its sales roles, and Katyal shares that they are doing this through merit-based practices, internal mentoring programmes, talent-pipeline initiatives and continuous learning opportunities. “By prioritising diversity and inclusion, Niva Bupa is building a strong foundation for success in the ever-evolving world of sales,” says Katyal.

1 COMMENT

  1. A very insightful article. The sales function is gradually becoming smoother as compared to, maybe a decade back. The outsourcing of the entire pre-sales activities has drastically reduced the demotivation due to client rejection faced by sales people making physical calls. With digital technology coming in a big way, I am sure women will find this function more attractive and rewarding.

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