Creating Women Friendly Workplaces 0

Kaushani Sarkar is the Director of People Experience at Quovantis. She has over a decade of experience spanning across HR partnership and engagements, talent planning, capability development, and building a high performance culture. Kaushani has led several professional development initiatives at Quovantis targeted at having an enriching onboarding experience, improving the learning and growth of Quants, enable systems and frameworks for reward and recognition across the organization. She is an MBA in HR from Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Management & Research, Pune.

 How we created a women friendly workplace at Quovantis

A successful organization grows through its people. When you have talented, creative, dedicated people in your team– the ones who are invested in the growth of your company, the ones who work like they own the company, the ones who feel that their success is tied to the success of the organization–your organization grows! On the other hand, if people in your organization are hired based on their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or marital status, it’s not only morally repugnant but also outrightly naive.

Whether you’re in IT or not, I hope you would agree that our world is dealing through a lot of turmoil and complex problems. And to solve complex problems, you need the best minds of the world. By marginalizing a certain section of the society, or specially women, and offering them fewer opportunities; by giving men a larger share of problems to solve, we defer coming up with diverse solutions.

One good thing that has happened over a period of years is that more people have started acknowledging the diversity problem. Organizations have started addressing it by taking steps towards reducing the men-to-women ratio in their workplace.

And I’m happy for them. Thankfully, we never ran after accomplishing any such “goal”. Diversity in our organization is more natural than reared. At Quovantis, hiring more women was never an agenda just as hiring more men was never on our to-do list. 

I think it’s because we’ve always wanted talented people on our team irrespective of whether they are men or women. We’ve always hired people because we felt that they were more skilled, talented and brilliant in what they do– not because of their gender. 

Talking about the other side of the coin– 43% of women who work in IT leave the workforce because of various reasons. How do we make them stay?

Tarun, our Founder and CEO, keeps sharing how he envisioned of creating a workplace where no one, and especially women, does not have to make harder choices between professional success and their personal life. His vision propels us to work towards making Quovantis a place where women get challenging work and a place where they don’t have to think twice before taking important life decisions like marriage or bearing a child.

And I feel we’ve been on the right path because Great Place to Work Institute has acknowledged us as one of India’s Great Workplaces for Women 2019. Every year, India’s Best Workplaces for Women honours companies that enable and empower women to build successful careers and this year we’re on the list with other admirable companies in India.

I feel blessed that our women Quants feel that they get the right opportunities and right flexibility at work to strike a balance between their personal and professional lives. All the more, I feel that our people experience team has done an incredible job at making the lives of women Quants exciting.

Organisational practices on women empowerment have evolved, only to get better with time.  However, it’s high time that organisations look at their initiatives again and focus on creating measurable impact for women to reach the top. Here are a few practices we follow that everyone can implement–

 

  1. Work from home for new mothers
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By offering work from home, organisations can help giving new mothers the best of both worlds—the option to raise their young ones while still bringing in a paycheck.

Organisations need to understand how difficult it is for working mothers to come to the office leaving their toddlers in the care of nannies/parents. Most of the time, they live under the guilt of leaving behind a wailing newborn. This not only affects their productivity at work but also forces them to take extreme steps like quitting the job.

Moreover, as employers, we need to understand how important it is for the children during the initial few months to thrive in nurturing relationships with parents. So, we need to help our new mothers slowly adjust to their new life rather than burdening them with unrealistic expectations at work.

    2. Welcoming back the new mother

Sadly, women have to face an unfortunate dilemma while taking maternity leave–will my job be as challenging as it is now? Will I still be qualified for that much-awaited promotion? Will my colleagues be able to welcome me back in the team, in the same way as before?

To ease all of these troubling thoughts, we need to welcome our new mothers back with open arms and warm hearts. A year back, we made it all the more special by taking out time to decorate the place where they used to sit before. By wishing the new mother a great second inning in her career, we can make her feel welcome and let her know that we care, and that we support her choice to become a parent.

The other thing that organisations need to keep in mind while welcoming the new mother back is that she shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed after joining the office. We need to make sure that she’s part of a project which is challenging, rewarding and which makes her feel that she’s really contributing to the success of the team.

 

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3. Sabbatical, when needed

There can be several personal reasons in people’s lives when they have to completely take off from work and address their priorities, this can be for studies, health, personal reasons or anything for that matter. While there’s a limit to how organisations can help, we can always try and do our best to understand and offer the option of taking a sabbatical in such cases. 

    4. Equal pay, equal growth, and a safe workplace for women

Think about it– there is no valid reason why a woman should be paid less for the same work that a man does. If she is as talented and skilled as a man, she should be paid equally. Period!

Blaming the industry standards for carrying it for so many years is a convenient excuse. But instead of becoming a part of it, we should let our actions speak louder than our policies.

    5. Zero tolerance against sexual harassment

There has to be a zero-tolerance against any sexual harassment case in the workplace. Under POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy, we need to make sure that every woman feels safe in the office.  At Quovantis we are happy that we have a decent ratio of women employees which is 28%.

 Organisations have to encourage women to take training, improve their skills and take a more active role in leading initiatives. As a result, most of the leadership positions in the organisation will get filled with women leaders who have grown within the company. With equal rights, empowerment and right guidance women can be ‘agents of change’ and catalyst of success.

Becoming a Great Place to Work for Women is probably Quovantis’ biggest achievement so far. This is a testament of our belief that if we take care of our women, our world can be run by organizations which are not haunted just by frowning men!

And this is for the organizations who are aiming towards more diversity and are hoping for their talent acquisition team to fix it in a swoosh of magic spell, I just have one suggestion. Don’t make Diversity a business goal. Don’t hire more women because you want to fit into a box of “gender-neutral” organization. Rather, hire because you want talented team members in your organization.

 

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Kaushani Sarkar is the Director of People Experience at Quovantis. She has over a decade of experience spanning across HR partnership and engagements, talent planning, capability development, and building a high performance culture. Kaushani has led several professional development initiatives at Quovantis targeted at having an enriching onboarding experience, improving the learning and growth of Quants, enable systems and frameworks for reward and recognition across the organization. She is an MBA in HR from Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Management & Research, Pune.

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