In an exclusive interview with All Things Talent, Harlina Sodhi, Senior Executive Vice President HR of a leading Bank, spoke about the key differentiator of an organization, its culture, and why diversity and inclusion are of paramount importance for leaders today.
Harlina Sodhi is an Indian HR professional, TEDx speaker, life and leadership coach, columnist and a blogger. Harlina is a speaker at HR forums and B-schools and her writings have appeared in journals and magazines including NHRDN, SHRM and Business World. She is among Top 20 HR social media influencers according to SHRM, India.
Harlina speaks on organizational culture, learning and digital practices at workplace, diversity and inclusion and future of work. Harlina is among top 16 women HR leaders in India. She is a social media enthusiast and an amateur poet. She also regularly reviews for TripAdvisor.
Q. With an experience of more than 2 decades, what were the key career experiences that really shaped your journey as a leader?
A. The experiences that included times when I did something that I had not prepared for, like sales, putting together a digital roadmap
for the company and driving organization culture. All of these were leaps of faith, which included lots of grunge work, a huge amount of dedication as well as hard work and trade-offs. These diverse work fields away from my comfort zones were my real learning ground, that shaped up my key-value systems about work.
If leaders want innovation and complimentary skill sets with an ability to tap into newer markets, they have to lead the charge.
Q. Can you shed some light on the evolving pattern which you have witnessed in the hiring processes over the past decade?
A. People, in today’s time, get hired for their cultural alignment a lot more than for the domain knowledge that they possess. Attitudes matter a lot more, and especially in a diverse industry, where experiences are valued. Candidates’ ability to deal with ambiguity and a challenging environment is a critical skill. Though experience is important yet it does not triumph above attitude these days.
Q. Which diversity topic or issue is often overlooked in an organization? What is the most common mistake in our thinking about diversity?
A. I believe that in general, diversity still continues to be thought of as something that needs to be done, for one of three reasons. The first reason being the possibility that Diversity is compliance or a regulation that needs to be followed.
The second reason being customers and investors are beginning to question the company about the current policies and the third reason simply because it a serious topic of discussion and debate among millennials and is often asked about. What can be called as the most overlooked topic of diversity is how it impacts the top and bottom line of a company’s balance sheet.
People, in today’s time, get hired for their cultural alignment a lot more than for the domain knowledge that they possess. Attitudes matter a lot more, and especially in a diverse industry, where experiences are valued. Candidates’ ability to deal with ambiguity and a challenging environment is a critical skill.
Q. How can organizational leadership and HR take a more active role in diversity within their organization? With regards to diversity in the workforce, does the size of the organization matter?
The idea of being a diverse company revolves around the kind of culture its leaders want to build in their organization. If they want the richness of ideas and innovation, the complementary skill set of diversity within their organizations. Size of the organization, however, is irrelevant. Companies are microcosms of the country and must reflect as well as mirror similar demographics.
Q. What do you think women can do themselves to overcome barriers and grow women leaders in the workforce?
A. Women are meant to take charge of their own destiny! They can join communities to learn and draw strength from. It can be things like getting a coach to strengthen their ‘Being’ or going through workshops to build their skills or maybe Learn to reach out and Lean In.
Q. How can organizations create cultures of significance, the paramount element driving the success of most businesses today?
A. Culture is the glue that holds an organization together. It can be a make or break. In times of volatility, it’s the values and behaviours’ of its people which navigate the company out of turbulent waters and into calmer seas. In fact, it can be said that it is the only differentiator!