Why Bharat Serums & Vaccines needs more women in its sales and R&D teams

The biopharma major has introduced specific women-centric policies to encourage more women to join its sales and R&D teams

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Ensuring gender equality at the workplace is one of the biggest challenges for any organisation. While many companies are struggling to have equal representation of women in their workforces and in powerful roles, Bharat Serums & Vaccines (BSV) is assiduously working to realise this future.

The biopharma company has a headcount of over 1,800 employees. Nilesh Kulkarni, CHRO, Bharat Serums & Vaccines, tells HRKatha that the Company is dedicated to creating a gender-balanced workforce across its offices.

Since its primary concern is women’s health and care, it believes that having more women as employees enables it to understand its target population’s needs better and helps it reach its goals.

On a more practical front, the Company has flexible policies in place to attract more women to its workforce. It is doing everything possible to place more women in customer-facing roles.

Reimbursements: Being aware of the difficulties women face while travelling alone, the Company provides reimbursement for the field work, which covers food as well as expenses pertaining to commute.

Leave policy: The Company also provides equal number of adoption leave and paternity leave. The women employees also get allowances that are one level higher than the overall workforce. This is done with the aim of offering them convenience, safety and flexibility, keeping in mind their willingness to engage with the work at the BSV offices.

A significant 22 per cent of the research & development workforce at BSV comprises women, which is higher than the industry benchmark of 14 per cent. This has been possible because of the Company’s desire and resolve to have more women in the department, reveals Kulkarni.

“Employees who refer females candidates, who get selected for the job, get better rewards. We also remain in contact with recruitment agencies, and incentivise them if they bring us more women candidates”

Nilesh Kulkarni, CHRO, Bharat Serums & Vaccines

The biopharma firm is diligently working towards creating a gender-equal workplace, despite the innumerable challenges it faces in doing so.

Referral schemes: There are attractive referral schemes in place to encourage more women to join the BSV team.

“Employees who refer females candidates, who get selected for the job, get better rewards. We also remain in contact with recruitment agencies, and incentivise them if they bring us more women candidates,” shares Kulkarni.

Digitisation: Covid-19 has transformed the way companies operate, and it has also ushered in a wave of digitisation that has made things a lot easier.

In the field of sales too, BSV has been encouraging more women to join the team. Women, it is generally believed, feel uncomfortable travelling and going door to door to sell products, which explains their small numbers in the sales domain. However, Kulkarni points out that digitisation has made things far easier, when it comes to dealing with customers and conveying information to physicians.

Employees can now choose between meeting customers in a physical setting, or discussing products with them via digital interactions. It is hoped that this way of communication will eliminate some of the challenges BSV has been facing in hiring more women for the salesforce.

Yet, Kulkarni admits that they have a long way to go in achieving a healthy gender ratio in the department.

Kulkarni points out three factors that the Company will be focusing on, in order to establish a bright future — reskilling, collaboration and scientific expertise.

With rapid digitisation and technological advancements, it has become imperative for BSV employees to remain up to date with all the changes happening in the industry. The Company is committed to providing employees with all the resources required to reskill. It also understands the importance of collaboration, and with the hybrid working model in practice, it aims to emphasise on and facilitate the same.

Bharat Serums & Vaccines will also continue to work towards achieving scientific expertise and providing the best services to its customers.

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