Tuesday, March 21, 2023

How Is Embassy Group Leveraging Their Women Employees in Carving a New Path Post-COVID?

2020 was undoubtedly the year of unprecedented change. In the midst of tumult and uncertainty, women have emerged to the forefront with their grit and determination to lead, inspire and take charge. Across sectors that witnessed significant duress and roles that demanded going above and beyond commitments, women have taken the onus of leadership to not only take the company forward through trying times with fortitude, but also to ensure that their people are secure, and chart a course for a more positive future. In doing so, 2020 was truly the year of women, as they balanced all fronts and created a more equal and equitable space for themselves, and others to come.

Now, as we have entered into 2021, with a new outlook, this year creates a greater premise for women to continue shattering stereotypes and forging their own paths. Therefore, Maria Rajesh, CHRO, Embassy Group was keen on sharing with us her views on how can women employees help embark on a new path for organizations ahead.

1. How essential is it to build workplaces where both women and men can thrive?

An organization thrives when built on a strong culture, by aligning people and its policies.  One of the most essential ways in building a robust organization is through the collaborative efforts of both men and women. Embassy is mindful of this as an organization. The role of HR thereby is to provide an elevated employee experience for them to stay motivated and adapt seamlessly. This will enable employees to be impactful in their roles and thereby leaving significant impressions within their organizations.

2. How is Embassy Group empowering women to re-join their careers after a break? What are the policies regarding the same?

Embassy as an organization has been very supportive of women who rejoin work after a break. The Human Resources team has ensured continuous pre-maternity support and for all women employees as well as other kinds of medical support. The HR team ensures comfort by facilitating the right kind of discussions with the departments for possible flexibility that might be required, especially while returning after the break. In terms of policies, the organization follows flexible work timings, work from home, and creche facilities for working mothers.

3. What are some of the biases that exist in organizations today, when it comes to leadership positions? How can organizations make performance evaluation bias-free? 

We must acknowledge that there has been a substantial increase in the number of women in leadership positions. This can be attributed to the support from organizations to working women with facilities such as maternity leaves, emotional support via counseling, creche at the office, etc. What has really worked well for organizations with women in leadership positions – the acceptance within the organizations about what women bring to the table without speaking of equal to or more than men.

Also, in terms of performance evaluation, we at Embassy, always strive in ensuring a high-performance rate for our employees. High-performing organizations thereby have an objective pay philosophy which leads to a bias-free evaluation process. An objective-based philosophy will enable assessing outcomes and results, thereby drive business-aligned objectives and organizational needs. When there is clear factual evidence on outcomes and results, there is no provision for biases to be considered.

Besides, building a gender-neutral performance evaluation is key. Organizations are devising policies that make work-life balance, better for women.

4. How can talent acquisition be made bias-free and create an equitable pay environment for all genders, especially in senior management roles? 

While policies like equal employment opportunity, diversity, and inclusion are necessary, it is also important there are acceptance and adherence to such policies. This can enable organizations to acquire new talent with a fair mix and create the right talent pool for the next steps on the cycle for development and retainment.

To ensure pay equity organizations need to define a compensation philosophy that does pay for performance, individual achievement, internal equity, and market competitiveness. Having a well-defined rewards philosophy will have no scope for discretionary pay.

5. What are some initiatives an organization can take to ensure skill development, keeping women in focus? What initiatives and policies did Embassy Group render to its employees to upskill and reskill themselves, during the pandemic?  

For a sector like Real Estate, achieving a 30% of women in leadership is an achievement. The embassy has clearly followed the internal talent movement for women in leadership. The senior leaders in Embassy have an average tenure of 12 years, this displays how women at Embassy have climbed up the ladder.

With the unforeseen pandemic and offices adhering to lockdown, we saw a need to reskill to become proficient with ideas through remote meetings and training platforms. At Embassy, apart from the virtual training, we introduced e-learning during the pandemic, and saw a 100% activation, whereas close to 70% utilization.

There has been great feedback on the learning challenges which were introduced this year, centering around core concepts such as; cultivating the sense of joy, creating mindful moments with family, keeping a check through productivity pointers, reiterating the importance of health, and acknowledging through constructive feedback. Apart from this, a series of stories known as ‘The Tales of Insights’ – which is a monthly series of insightful narratives – were shared across the organization and accepted well throughout. This provided opportunities for employees to showcase and share different stories across the group with their everyday learnings of life.

6. Describe initiatives in developing and leveraging employer branding.

Embassy Group is an established and aspired brand in the real estate sector. We are well in the purview of having a culture that is agile, creating a learning environment, and ensuring the well-being of the employees.

Our initiatives are structured in such a manner that it leverages the brand across the real estate spectrum. The rewards and recognition program is extensive and highly competitive, with engagement being a constant throughout the organization with the inclusion of activities, and programs like employee outbound, Diwali celebrations, Family Day carnival, Cricket leagues, every Friday beer bash, all sponsored company-wide international trip for all employees and support staff, Embassy’s Got Talent (talent show), etc.

We have been listed in Top 3 in real estate companies to work for in the Great Place to Work Awards, rewarded among the Dream Companies to Work for by UBS evaluation, The Golden Brick Award for being the Employer Of The Year, among other accolades.

Besides, keeping physical wellbeing, we have annual health checks for spouses, we offer a membership tie-up with CultFit with a subsidized 50% fee borne by the employee, are mindful of the wellness of employees where we provide flexible working hours, ensuring optimum work-life balance.

7.  How are values and employment proposition linked to the brand at Embassy?

In today’s dynamic digital transformation era, we firmly believe that people are the greatest assets of a company, and the success of the company is driven by the happiness index of its employees. The employees take pride in the organization, feel connected to the Group’s vision and mission-enabling the business to scale newer heights, every passing year. Employees are addressed as “Embassadors” of the Embassy, carrying with them the ethos of the organization in their professional life at the Embassy.

Apart from the existing talent pool, we are very specific with our talent acquisition policy. Agility and learnability stand paramount to us as an organization.

Agility is key for the kind of functioning at the Embassy. We cascade the vision of the future first among our employees. As per the Gallup survey, the Embassy scores high on loyalty and advocacy as compared to the other organizations in the industry.

Learnability, we look at individuals who come with a willingness to learn irrespective of tenure and age. There is always a scope for change in roles and this helps an individual to settle in the newer roles.

Moreover, the culture at Embassy is aligned to value – integrity, business acumen, people centricity, relationship-focused, and responsibility.

8. Describe the Embassy’s inclusion strategy including the role of the top leadership.

To ensure inclusivity, the company follows an open-door policy. Employees have access to leadership irrespective of the hierarchies. The senior leaders are accessible at their respective offices and ensure to spend time with employees across functions during lunch and other breaks.

Inclusion in brainstorming for a new product provides a perspective as well as identifies issues at ground level challenges that can be addressed while conceptualizing. For instance, one of the names for a new business vertical was coined by our employees through our internal shared communication platform wherein names were pitched and one was listed.

Besides, we believe that Inclusion in the execution of a blueprint will enable all hands to meet and synchronize between the teams, getting more synergies and exchange of ideas; similarly in decision making, will make every employee feel valued.

9. On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Be yourself, and you will be where you want to be. No one can stop you but yourselves.