D&I – Cummins India does it right

Cummins India recently won an award for developing women leaders and providing an inclusive workplace with equal opportunities for them. However, when it comes to its diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda, the Company is taking a good look beyond gender.

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For Cummins, the motto is to be more innovative by being more diverse. As a broad strategy, it wishes to be representative of India’s diversity in its employee workforce and create a safe and inclusive workplace. Working with new ideas, driving innovation and developing a collective leadership is how it plans to develop a competitive advantage within the organisation.

The focus on D&I begins on day one when the new employees come in. Young professionals and lateral hires alike go through a one-week induction process, which is part of the diversity and inclusion journey. Termed as GOB or global onboarding, new entrants get introduced to the Company, its leaders, processes and its diversity and inclusion agenda. The Company has also designed a small module called spectrum diversities where it has small exercises facilitated by trained experts to sensitise the new entrants and make them understand the value of diversity.

All fresh hires, whether C suite executives or freshers, have to go through the workshop.

Being in the manufacturing sector, the road to achieving current levels of diversity and inclusion has not been an easy one. To manage its D&I agenda, it focusses on gender representation followed by regional representation. To begin with, the focus was on gender. Till 15 years ago, the representation of women in the Company stood at a meagre five per cent. Today, the organisation has around 33 to 34 per cent of women employees, among whom more than 40 per cent are in leadership roles.

As for the regional representation, its aim is to have a tiny India within the organisation. Cummins is focussing on attracting and retaining talent from all four cardinal directions, including central India, to have an employee base that is representative of the diversity of the country.

When it comes to creating an environment to retain its diverse talent, the organisation has created employee resource groups (ERGs) to look after and promote the needs of its employees. Once it gets the talent into the system, Cummins harnesses them through its ERGs so that they thrive.

Cummins has five ERGs within the system to drive talent inclusion. The objective of the ERGs is to focus on initiatives which are aligned with the organisation’s mission, values, goals and business practices.

The first ERG created was for hiring more women employees into the Company. The ERG for gender diversity is termed the ‘women empowerment network’ or WE network. This ERG partners with business to drive gender-inclusive policies by focusing on three pillars —safety (both physical and psychological), health and wellness, and development. It is through the efforts of the WE network that the Company has been able to provide crèche facilities at all its plants and corporate offices to support working mothers. The same facility has been extended to the male employees as well.

D&I cummins doing it rightOnly with a diverse and inclusive workforce will we bring the right combination of perspectives, insights and skills to solve the challenges of our stakeholders

To ensure psychological safety, the Company has initiated a helpline number for the entire organisation, where employees can approach for help of any kind, be it about a career move or dealing with stress. On the other end of the line are professionals and subject matter experts ,who are able to guide them through their difficulties.

Currently, there are five ERGs focusing on driving initiatives and building an environment for a diverse populace. The other four ERGs are focussed on other areas, such as neXus which focuses on the multi-generational workforce, Ekam the culture ERG, Wings which is for the differently-abled personnel and India Pride ERG for the LGBTQ+ employees. The other four focus groups, apart from the WE network were started two years ago.

An interesting fact is that India’s first gay couple who tied the knot work at Cummins. One of them, Sameer Samudra, director, customer support excellence, Cummins India, is the founder of the Cummins Pride Employee Resource Group. Amit Gokhale, his partner, is currently the programme director for continuous improvement in the Company.

On the disabled front, the Company has taken steps to create jobs for the differently abled within the organisation’s corporate offices and at its plants. For instance, in one of its plants in Madhya Pradesh, near Indore, there are both hearing- and visually-impaired personnel working shifts on the shop floor. The employees there have been quite successful in meeting work requirements. In its Pune office, all the facilities— whether common amenities, such as door handles or elevator buttons—all have Braille script to create a comforting environment for the visually-impaired employees.

Yet another initiative taken by the organisation is that of introducing ergonomic workstations and machinery for the workforce. It was found that it was getting difficult for women to operate heavy machinery and carry around heavy weights day in and day out. Therefore the management brought on board ergonomic engineers who made design changes to make work more manageable and comfortable for them.

“Usage of certain tools was found to be ergonomically heavy in some cases for the women staff. We addressed this using a statistical and data-driven approach to make workstations ergonomically neutral for women employees. An action plan was derived through voices captured from women employees and scores measured by collaborating with a vendor specialising in ergo-tech. Post a detailed study and validation, actions were implemented with a control plan in place for skill enhancement. The additional designs ensured that  women could perform as well as their male counterparts. We have invested in making the machinery accessible for women without compromising on the functionality and quality of performance”, explains Anupama Kaul, director, talent management, Cummins India ABO.

The Company is aiming to increase the percentage of women in its workforce from the current 33–34 per cent to 50 per cent. The organisation also has an all-women’s college called Cummins College of Engineering for Women (CCEW), which was founded in the year 1991. The talent pool for the organisation, to a large extent, lies in this institution.

Kaul concludes by saying, “Diversity & inclusion is an opportunity for advantage. It allows us to attract and retain a truly global workforce and be successful in our business. Only with a diverse and inclusive workforce will we bring the right combination of perspectives, insights and skills to solve the challenges of our stakeholders.”

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