D&I Conclave 2021

KEC International bags the Best EHS Complying Unit of the Year award

Celebrating RPG’s Diversity Champions

Over the last few years, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) have become synonymous with conversations on building a successful, growth-minded team and culture across global corporates. According to McKinsey & Company, companies with a more diverse workforce perform better financially, compared to those with homogenous teams.

Building a D&I strategy that values employees and treats them with open-mindedness and respect in a safe environment, gives employees the space to thrive. When employees feel welcomed into a work environment where success seems attainable for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, it encourages them to bring their best selves to work.

In fact, D&I has today evolved from being ‘desirable’ to becoming a critical enabler for a business to succeed for years to come, and more and more CXOs are making note of this.

RPG Group, with a diverse and global workforce of over 30,000 employees, has been a firm advocate of an equitable workplace that goes beyond policies, programmes or headcount. The Group’s D&I Centre of Excellence (CoE), with representatives from all Group companies, has been working to create an inclusive workforce, fostering diversity in thought, culture, age, and gender across the large span of the organisation.

D&I Conclave 2021

RPG Group held another successful edition of the D&I Conclave in May, this year. The event was an ode to the trailblazers, both within the Group as well as outside, who are changing the face of D&I in the industry through their exemplary work.

The conclave presented RPGians an opportunity to interact with two extraordinary people who are leading by example in the inclusivity space:

a) Zainab Patel, a transgender woman and a staunch feminist who inspires through her own stories of struggle and hope. She is currently the Director, Inclusion and Diversity at KPMG India.

b) Patu Keswani is the Chairman and MD of Lemon Tree Hotels, known to hire people with disabilities and from the underprivileged segments of society.

"The law can’t change hearts. It’s people who can change that."

Zainab Javid Patel, Director, Inclusion & Diversity, KPMG India

Zainab and Patu shared with the audience the positive impact of D&I on people, businesses and society alike, and the role of corporates and citizens to help create an equitable world offering equal opportunities to all.

Neeraj Nanda, President South Asia, KEC International, and the winner of the Championing Equality Award 2020 also spoke to the audience on nurturing a D&I friendly ecosystem in the business.

"We need to make disability irrelevant while hiring, by redefining job roles and choosing the right functional roles. We need to re-examine roles that make inclusion a reality and not remain an aspiration."

Patu Keswani, Chairman & MD, Lemon Tree Hotels

Furthering D&I at RPG

Somraj Roy, Chief Human Resources Officer, KEC International and Chairperson, Group D&I Council, took the audience through the accomplishments of the council and stressed that diversity and inclusion are always at the forefront at RPG Group.

The Common Minima Framework of the D&I Council focuses on:

- Hiring and retention, with a special focus on women, talent from diverse cultures and backgrounds, and PWD

- Development, through initiatives such as ‘womentoring’ and unconscious bias workshops

- Ecosystem support, including a tie-up with Juno clinic that provides free counselling to RPGians and their families

- Building awareness, with frequent communication that sensitises people on biases and stereotypes

- Governance and compliance, which includes company-specific D&I councils in all Group companies

Somraj took the audience through the various accolades won by several RPG Group companies for their continued work to promote D&I.

Celebrating the champions

Like each year, the Conclave recognised those individuals and companies who have created impact through initiatives, processes and practices to build a diverse and inclusive culture in their organisation.

Here are their stories:

D&I Evangelist – Abhijit Patne, Raychem RPG

Abhijeet has demonstrated a commitment towards developing people with disabilities (PwD), and providing them with equal opportunities to learn and grow. After hiring a PwD team of 30 members in FY18-19, Abhijeet has displayed ownership and accountability in developing people, by playing the role of a catalyst in grooming them for industrial exposure.

He has shown a deep-rooted commitment towards their safety, productivity, and growth at all times, helping change their mindsets to work in shifts and delivering work output at par with any other worker. During this three-year journey, Abhijeet has been mentoring his PwD colleagues on various processes and coached them to operate the Assembly area, which is today managed independently by them and has been proven to be their strength.

His involvement in grooming the team has opened a door for other businesses to accept D&I as part of their own teams, and to provide them with the same opportunities as the others.

Championing Equality – Cherian George, HML

Cherian has been a champion for promoting gender equality, gender sensitisation and POSH awareness across HML’s plantations and the corporate office. He has initiated actions for removing recruitment barriers and improving engagement for HML’s women employees, along with the commitment to hire women executives in the estates.

Under his leadership and guidance, the GPTW score of women at the company has gone up from 94 in 2019, to 96 in 2020. It is a notable fact that in spite of their large numbers in HML’s workforce in the estates, incidents of harassment or discrimination against women employees reported are less to nil.

A people-person, Cherian continues to be well respected by all at HML for his unbiased approach towards people management policies and for encouraging inclusive recruitment.

Best Benchmark Practice – Zensar

Under the guidance of two D&I Council members, focus group discussions were conducted for Zensar’s women associates, to sense the pulse on D&I and to address concerns, if any. Gender sensitisation emerged as a burning need in these discussions, leading to its adoption as one of the charter points of the company’s Global D&I Council. A sub-track of five members was formed to develop content for a course that aims to help examine personal attitudes and beliefs, and question the 'realities' that are often assumed in the context of workplace diversity and inclusion. This course is designed exclusively for all those who interact with people as managers, leaders or coach.

Zensar believes this will also lead to enhanced associate engagement, retention and a conducive and productive environment, resulting in a balanced and stress-free work environment at the company.

Best Company for Supporting the D&I Agenda – CEAT

As one of the first tyre companies in its industry to hire women on the shopfloor in various areas including tyre building, curing and mixing, CEAT is deeply committed to inclusion at work. CEAT began a conscious and structured approach to D&I around seven years ago, with a D&I Committee chaired by Managing Director Anant Goenka. The committee comprises individuals from across the company, and is now working on various areas of inclusion such as gender, PwDs, educational and geographical diversity.

Gender Inclusion

Individual plants have taken up their diversity targets to ensure that women make up nearly 30 per cent of its workforce, over the years. New hires for managerial grades are closely monitored by the plant leadership team and the D&I Council. The current diversity number at CEAT is 13 per cent.

PwD Inclusion

This year, CEAT has taken a step forward in its inclusion agenda, with hiring of PwDs as a focus. The company achieved 100 per cent of its targets by hiring 20 PwDs during the pandemic year. As part of its efforts to create a conducive working ecosystem for PwDs and ensure their success, the company conducts sensitivity training and sign language training for all employees who are in direct contact with PwDs, including the security staff.

Background Diversity

The company continues to focus on hiring talent from non-conventional educational backgrounds, for e.g., an engineer being hired as an HR professional. This broadens the range of skills among employees as well as the diversity of their experiences and perspectives, which increases their productivity potential. CEAT has also been working on internal movements, in addition to its external hiring process, to boost this agenda.

Geographical Diversity

This year, a new focus was introduced on hiring from the North-East and J&K regions to enhance geographical inclusion. Proactive campus identification drives were conducted across NIT Srinagar, NIT Meghalaya and Assam University, to promote geographical diversity for entry-level roles.

Women Empowerment (WE) Forum

Women Empowerment groups at RPG plants meet monthly to discuss any issues and grievances, and to highlight the challenges they face at work, and to seek support if needed.


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