Showcasing employer branding and culture out loud has become more important: Preety Saroj, Novo India 407

LGBTQ employer branding

In an interview with All Things Talent, Preety Saroj, Head of People, India, Novo talks about its equal employment opportunities for women, revamping the company’s existing policies to make them LGBTQ+ inclusive, and more.

Novo intends to increase its female-to-male ratio from 36:64 to 51:49. How would you achieve that? What kind of roles do you think will have a larger number of women at Novo and why?

LGBTQ Inclusive Novo
Preety Saroj, Head of People, India, Novo

At Novo, we believe in giving equal opportunities while hiring for a role. Outlying and promoting a role by addressing issues of gender disparity will project a culture that supports inclusiveness and thereby invite a mix of applications. Design hiring drives focus towards roles that are gender skewed, e.g. programs around having more women in engineering roles. Among others, building campus engagement plans with a focus to target gender diversity, opportunities for women with career breaks and who wants to start all over again, and even hiring more women in the leadership team.

“At Novo, we believe in giving equal opportunities while hiring for a role. Outlying and promoting a role by addressing issues of gender disparity will project a culture that supports inclusiveness and thereby invite a mix of applications.”

You are reviewing your existing LGBTQ+ policies to make them more inclusive. Could you please elaborate on a few of the existing policies and how you are looking to enhance them in H2?

The plan is underway and we are reviewing our existing policies to make them LGBTQ+ inclusive. As a good start, one of the initiatives would be around updating policies with the right pronouns and removing the male/female binary from our existing policies. 

Also read: Phonepe’s Retention Strategy Includes Assured Growth, Compensation, and Inclusivity

In terms of LGBTQ+, what kind of numbers are you looking at? Would you be collaborating with NGOs or other non-profit organisations for the same? 

As we would be taking baby steps to reach there, this year the focus will mostly be towards being there and generating awareness in our employee base and educating them during Pride month.  

You will also be looking at opening specific roles for LGBTQ+ persons. What kind of roles would they be?

Considering we are banking & engineering heavy when it comes to hiring, we will pick roles from the same departments. Among others, we will be hiring for roles that are more ad-hoc like communications, copywriters, and UI/UX/graphic designers. 

How much of these numbers would reflect in the workforce in India?

We are not looking at any specific numbers, for now, any successful hire we have will be a good starting point.  

Will there be a roster of some kind to manage people going on leave since Novo has a no-cap leave every year?

Yes, teams follow rosters and the people team parallelly shares monthly reports to the department heads to review under and over utilisation of the benefit. 

In an interview last year, Tyler McIntyre, Founder and CTO, Novo mentioned that the raised funding would be utilised towards strengthening your vision for a better consumer experience. How much of it was utilised for HR activities?

We invested in automating our HR processes by having some tools in place, opening up our office space, additional employee benefits, and employee engagement activities. We are looking to hire around 200 people across Banking, Engineering, Data, and Product teams.

Can you share an overview of the company, its initial story, and the company’s growth perspective about talent and employees? 

As has been our founders’ vision – the key is to give everyone the autonomy to stretch and grow, stretching beyond their comfort zone, taking calculated risks, and watching their efforts create an impact on the world. After successfully securing Series A and B funding from our investment partners, we are focusing on the next expansion step – hiring a talented workforce from middle and top-level management in banking and engineering roles in India for the next six months and building an organisation that’s motivated and growing and accomplishing new milestones in India.

“As has been our founders’ vision – the key is to give everyone the autonomy to stretch and grow, stretching beyond their comfort zone, taking calculated risks, and watching their efforts create an impact on the world.”

How has the company’s talent strategy evolved?

It has evolved in the following ways:

  • Setting the foundation by building up the people team first and driving the need to build a people-first approach from leaders top down.
  • Adapting to changing conditions be it pre or post Covid and having an ever-evolving set of policies that address the current situation and the need. 
  • Investing in the recruitment model to ensure we have the right talent sourced and positioned at the right time.
  • Encouraging succession planning and developing budding leaders to take up the next level role through PDPs.
  • Being a global company, the geographical and cultural differences are bound to coexist, hence ensuring transparency to build practises as per local relevance yet having a global perspective.
  • Investing in employer branding initiatives and building unique employer value propositions (EVPs).

As a new-age company, how much ROI on tech in recruitment is required?

It is required to assess data on metrics like time to hire, time to fill and ascertain recruitment gaps and fixing it in real-time, automate the process and keep up with the pace of growth, build up a great candidate experience by timely communication, and also by giving a sound reflection of structured interview experience regardless of candidates getting selected or not. 

Also read: Women In Tech: High Time To Normalise Them

What has been Novo’s experience in the last two years in terms of talent availability and use of technology in HR activities?

The pandemic has definitely opened more horizons by opening access to talent beyond a city and even beyond geographies. The virtual interview process has invited more people to appear for the interview as compared to pre covid era where the physical commute was time-consuming. 

The need for employer branding initiatives and depicting the culture out loud to a jobseeker even before the interview process begins has become more important than ever. There is also high demand in the tech hiring space and a gradual dip in the offer to joining ratio. The use of technology has helped in automating a lot of manual processes, streamlining internal processes, and employee engagement software has strengthened employee camaraderie, especially while operating from home/remotely. Learning platforms have paved the way to self-learning and certifications.

Year of Incorporation: 2019
Market Presence: The US
Employee Count: 120 in India
Workforce Pie (in percent): Banking (57), Engineering (29), People (5), Operations (5), Product (3), Finance (2).
Hiring Pipeline: 75 by Q1/Q2 of 2022
Business Operation: Novo is built for today’s business owners. Since launching our invite-only release, freelancers, startup founders, and small business owners alike have been opening business checking accounts in minutes, securely, and easily with no minimum balance requirements.
HR Metrics: Looking to build on this with our ongoing policies

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Preety is an industry veteran with more than 11 years of experience in HR innovation and processes. In her role at Novo, she is responsible for managing employee life-cycle, devising HR strategies, and navigating a strong cultural ecosystem to support and drive business outcomes and objectives.

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