Diversity alone doesn’t make an impact, inclusion is integral
At Schindler, we look at diversity from a different lens. We don’t think it’s only about gender, LGBTQI, PWD, religion or backgrounds but about different perspectives says Sheetal Shah, Chief People Officer – India and South Asia, Schindler India Pvt. Ltd.
What are your thoughts on D&I as a business imperative?
I think it’s simply the right thing to do! Think about what happens if we don’t have a diversity and inclusion agenda. Apart from the fact that women constitute 48% of the population in India, we still see a skewed percentage of women in the working population, which means we are being deprived of 48% of the talent segment. There is enough research to prove the benefits of D&I, whether it is increased productivity, creative thinking, better decision making, job satisfaction, higher employee engagement, or improved performance. Hence, it should be a thread that touches everything in the organization.
As an HR leader, could you describe some of the work you are carrying out at the company especially in the context of the industry you operate in?
The overall diversity ratio in the Elevator and Escalator industry is very low as the industry has been historically homogeneous. When people think of fitters installing or technicians servicing, it is ideally generalized to young/middle-aged males. However, I believe that the acknowledgment of the E&E industry’s shortcomings is now shining a spotlight on non-gender representation. The industry has a long way to go towards achieving a truly inclusive and diverse working environment. At Schindler, we look at diversity from a different lens. We don’t think it’s only about gender, LGBTQI, PWD, religion or backgrounds. It is about different perspectives, different thought processes, different experiences/opinions and what uniqueness an individual can bring.
We have relooked at our policies and processes to make them more inclusive. We started with blind CVs, made our job descriptions gender-neutral, and offered Care9 Healthy Pregnancy Program. This includes diet and fitness plans, emotional counseling, etc. We offer training programs to women stepping into leadership positions. More recently, we celebrated pride month in June for the first time and are currently celebrating ‘inclusion & diversity’ for an entire month in October with various initiatives.
Were there any obstacles you encountered in making the workplace inclusive? What are some of your top challenges?
In my view, diversity alone doesn’t make an impact, inclusion is integral. In a room that is vastly diverse, if the unique perspectives aren’t being heard and people don’t connect, the impact is lost. One of our biggest challenges has been to drive programs at all levels to change mindsets and increase awareness of subconscious biases to embrace diversity and inclusion. Field jobs come with their own set of challenges. For women employees especially, it is more challenging considering the poor working conditions on sites such as lack of toilets and safety & security. Sometimes, there is also a lack of acceptability from family members of women employees to travel.
How do you see the future of D&I shaping up for your company and the industry?
Clearly, we have a long way to go as a society as well as an industry. Currently, most companies are focused on driving D&I programs for their employees. In order to bring about a sustainable change in the future, I see a greater need for companies to extend these efforts to transform the society at large. Companies will have to work with educators, policymakers, families, communities and different external stakeholders to influence and impact society for the long-haul.