Diversity in the Organisation – The reality

Organisations today have become compact and multiple layers of shared services constitute the organisation’s ecology. These layers of congruent employees mix, match and work with each other towards a shared goal. Diversity has moved beyond age, gender, geography, ethnicity, culture, etc. It also consists of diversity of cognitive styles, tenure, skills and competencies. With more and more millennials joining the organisational ranks, organisations have realised the merit of recognising the need for looking at things differently. The amalgamation of this diverse workforce is becoming a cornerstone for a successful organisation and a lot more of thought is being put in the process of engaging and developing the workforce of current times.
IFIN as an organisation has grown many folds in last decade and continues to expand its wings in Indian and International markets. The organisation sees diversity in employees, keeping both people and business aspects in mind. Where there is a healthy mix of tenure, with the new breed to millennials joining in, a large set of employees enjoy a long stint with the organisation. The different and diverse business lines add another layer to the diversity of the workforce. Keeping at pace with the changing business landscape IFIN has realised the need to garner the merits of this diversity and equip its employees with relevant and resonating skill enhancement interventions. Thus inclusiveness forms an organic part of the IFIN culture.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The one thing that is imperative to employee development is the fact that "diverse people have diverse development needs". Aspirations, skills, competency, interests, and acumen – all of them form an effective development agenda for an employee. HIPOs (High Potentials) may need an intervention that helps nurture the passion to take on higher order roles, whereas the non-HIPOs, the bedrock of the organisation, may need an intervention that is focused on skill enhancement to elevate the current performance. An astute organisation recognises the diverse development needs and efficiently puts in the framework

At IFIN, cohort management initiative, Step UP, launched last year, was a step towards managing diversity of development needs of the employees. A one year programme, exclusively for employees moving in higher grades, responsibility, location, etc, who need a shift in their thinking and execution space - the Target audience. Once the programme was outlined, the likes of Korn Ferry and Dale Carnegie joined as partners and the programme was conceived. All this came around to an intervention that imparts skills to a sizeable population in the organisation and helps to manage needs of a cohort to bring about this change.

The Amalgam of Standardisation and Customisation

In the endeavour to capitalise on the strength of diversity, it is important to ensure the employees are brought to experience developmental interventions which are customised to their inherent needs. Where it is imperative to provide strategic support to the leadership of an organisation, it is equally important to ensure the next in line are developed suitable to take the execution excellence baton.

IFIN has always been an organisation which provides an equal opportunity to excel in one’s skills. Mr. Ramesh C. Bawa, MD & CEO IFIN, has always been a strong advocate and firm enabler of equal opportunities for all employees. Under his guidance, IFIN has seen a lot of initiatives which provide effective career launch pads for every employee. In one of such initiatives, every year a cohort of middle management employees are taken through a business simulation exercise. This is an exercise where budding leaders are put in a simulated business environment and are made to experience the challenges of running a business. This activity is standardised and every employee after a designated grade goes through this, regardless of the nature of job. It gives an equal opportunity to employees to test their strategic and decision making skills and helps in understanding the challenges of running a business.

This programme is a customised offering, and it simulates the exact business scenarios in line with the key businesses at IFIN. The trainers and the business heads at IFIN spend a lot of time in identification and development of these simulated exercises, connect with each participant and reporting manager to set expectations and identify strengths and gaps is the level of customisation that occurs. These modules are designed specifically to engage employees with compact, story (or case) based, online programmes with debriefs at each concept the insights gained in the programmes are retained, internalised, and implemented to bring about effective learning.

Strengthening the Diversity Mix

Enabling diversity within the workforce, and strengthening that diversity effectively, is one way of making the most of human capital. Research studies have found a link between more gender-diverse companies and better financial performance. Diversity is therefore a business agenda and strengthening it a need of the times. Organisations need to have more women role models at desired levels to drive the same passion. More and more organisations are realising that challenges for women employees are different and they need women-centric initiatives, to increase the sense of belongingness and care for the women employees.

IL&FS Group launched a group level initiative this year called “Ananya” which endeavours to create a support framework for women employees. This initiative will see a series of interventions which will work towards creating a more conducive and inclusive work environment. The intervention will see a threefold support in form of professional development, leadership mentoring and life stage support.
Courses from top institutes will help in fetching the best capability building opportunity and augment the professional image of women employee. Developing women leaders by providing them mentorship support and career guidance is also an integral part of this initiative, where the women employees will able to address career-related challenges through the mentor’s support. Through this initiative the IL&FS Group is implementing infrastructure-related changes to support the important life stage needs of the women employees. This initiative is designed to ensure each women employee has the required support and impetus for a rewarding career.

The Inclusiveness prophecy

Many conduits exist to support natural development or experience sharing, so organisations can experiment to find the ones appropriate to their distinctive culture and ethos. The initiative to share learning and the initiative to respond to that learning stimuli is a mutually beneficial relationship between the leaders and employees of the organisation. It is through this inclusive culture, organisations develop a healthy mix of leaders and followers, who together turn new challenges into opportunities.

Informal and formal learning interventions have been a unique aspect at IFIN. Where there is a firm framework of formal skill building, there are new age avenues which are bringing new ideas of knowledge sharing. Through learning initiatives which will appeal to the millennials and at the same time to the tenured employees, IFIN Academy is ready with a few initiatives which will see a blend of technology, bite size learning nuggets and experience sharing as the new shift in its learning strategy. This change is required to ensure an inclusive and customised learning environment for all employees.

Learning and development has seen a lot of change in the last few years, it can very well be designated as a branch of science itself, new ideas keep enticing the intellectually stimulated  and it is in the best interest of an organisation to keep pace with the learning trends that promise to make a difference.

Authored by:
Sudakshina Bhattacharya
Executive Vice President & Head – Human Resources, IL&FS Financial Services (IFIN)




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