D&I Spotlight of the Month | REA India

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Focus Areas for DEI – A glimpse of our journey FY’23
At REA India, we believe diverse teams bring together individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity of thought fosters creativity and innovation, as people approach problems and challenges from various angles, leading to more effective and innovative solutions. REA India aims to eliminate gender-based barriers, biases, and discrimination, fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome, valued, and empowered to thrive. Here are some key initiatives that we have taken to make REA India an inclusive organization for all:

1. Defined ‘improving gender diversity’ as an OKR: As part of our commitment to increasing gender diversity in the organization, we integrated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) goals into our organization wide OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework. Additionally, we have incorporated DE&I objectives into the Key Result Areas (KRAs) for all people managers. This approach aims to drive the gender diversity agenda, foster accountability, and ensure that DE&I initiatives are prioritized and actively pursued throughout the organization.

2. Learning Program on Principles of DE&I: We initiated an online DE&I program on our in-house learning platform, REA India University. This module aimed to enhance participants’ understanding of the significance of DE&I in the current context and encouraged them to take responsibility and ownership for promoting DE&I initiatives within the organization.

3. DE&I Sensitization Workshops for People Managers: In our opinion, people managers are the biggest contributors to shaping an organization’s culture. To drive real change and promote a culture of empathy, we conducted multiple Gender Sensitization Workshops exclusively for our people managers. The workshops served as a platform to raise awareness and ignite a powerful shift in mindset, urging our leaders to embrace diversity and inclusivity.

4. Unconscious Bias Training: Launched an e-learning program for all our people. This program served as an ideal point for initiating discussions around the common biases experienced by diverse groups of people in Indian workplaces. The module delved into gender, generation, and cultural biases, promoting self-awareness and empathetic interactions among employees.

5. Hiring Guidelines for Talent Acquisition Team: We developed comprehensive non-gender biased hiring guidelines to assist recruiters in eliminating any biases and being conscious of their choices while selecting the best talent.

6. DE&I focused hiring initiative: We launched ‘EmpowHER,’ an exclusive program to hire women into Product team. The applicant can be a woman returning to work from a sabbatical or a fresher willing to make a career in this domain. The hires are put into a 1-year internship program where they learn on the job and eventually get absorbed into a full-time opportunity. Through ‘EmpowHER’, we aim to empower women to steer their career in a direction of their choice, at a time of their choice.

7. Transparent Reporting: Keeping our Leadership Team actively engaged in our DE&I progress, we share quarterly DE&I Dashboards. These reports provide insights into gender diversity statistics and highlight the strides we make through various initiatives, fostering a sense of collective responsibility in driving our DE&I agenda.

8. Ensuring Access to Sanitary Products: We have placed sanitary vending machines at our offices to ensure easy access to pads for our women colleagues. For the rest of our offices, where we operate from co-working spaces, we have placed a sanitary box for women to use, which is placed safely with the Admin/HR SPOC or the women colleagues in the branch.

9. Redefining Recognition: Inspired by valuable employee suggestions, we redesigned our e-appreciation cards to look gender-neutral, fostering inclusivity and recognizing outstanding contributions, irrespective of gender.

10. Annual Women’s Day celebrations: Every year, we celebrate Women’s Day at REA India with full enthusiasm and fervor to appreciate the invaluable contributions of women employees. Engaging activities, educational webinars, and inspiring social media campaigns underscored our commitment to uplifting women and their accomplishments in the workplace. Here is a summary of the activities and initiatives that REA India organized to celebrate Women’s Day in 2023:
• We created “You Go Girl” e-appreciation cards available on our HRIS for all to appreciate and recognize the women across the organization.
• Organized ‘Housing Talkies’ by Mandira Bedi: Housing Talkies is our live, in-house and candid conversation series inviting renowned celebrities where we invited the actor and host Mandira Bedi this time.
• Organized an exclusive webinar for women folk on the nuances of financial freedom.
• Women at REA India enjoyed a musical evening by Nandy Sisters.
• Ran a Social Media contest on #EmbraceEquity campaign.
• Launched “Women of REA India” series on LinkedIn showcasing the incredible stories of our women colleagues.

11. Impacting Lives through CSR Initiatives: We collaborated with NGOs and organizations supporting women and girl child causes.
A. Partnered with GMR Foundation on Diwali & Christmas 2022: Showcased products made by underprivileged women, and the proceeding from the sales went towards enhancing access to services & goods for personal hygiene for associated women.
B. Partnered with Government Girls Senior Secondary School (Kasan, Haryana): Raised funds to help repair and procure basic amenities like blackboard, table-chairs, ROs etc. for the school.
C. Partnered with Give India:
a. On Christmas, for Navachetna Home (Donation towards providing shelter, food & medical care to women suffering from mental issues).
b. On Diwali, raised funds for ‘Rahat’: a program by Majlis Legal Centre that provides socio-legal support to victims of sexual and domestic violence.
c. During Women’s Day week, we organized a donation drive for the education of underprivileged girls.
d. ‘Shraddhanand Mahilashram’ runs a shelter home for young girls
and women from 19 to 40 years of age. We were able to raise funds and the same was donated to our CSR partner Give India as ‘Eidi’ (on occasion of Eid festival) from the REA India family.

Our leading DEI Initiative: 

Two of our leading DEI initiatives are EmpowHER Program and Unconscious Bias Training Program

EmpowHER- 

EmpowHER is an exclusive and innovative program aimed at increasing gender diversity within our teams. We launched the pilot program for our Product team which provided a unique opportunity for women looking to kickstart or resume their careers in this domain. Whether applicants are returning to work from a sabbatical or fresh graduates seeking to build a career in Product Development, EmpowHER offers a supportive platform for growth and development.

In December 2022, we successfully hired four talented females for our Product team through the EmpowHER program. They are currently engaged in specialized projects that align with their individual strengths and interests, and they will continue to receive mentorship and support throughout the 12-month internship.

Program structure:

  • First 7 days – organizational induction and syncing up with the team and buddy (to facilitate the intern’s smooth integration into the role).
  • Next two months – In-house sessions conducted on Functional skills.
  • Next four months – On the job training on understanding the Product lifecycle.
  • Last 6 months – Business as usual where the interns learn to manage stakeholders, write clear and crisp PRDs (Product Requirement Documents), own roadmaps, run experiments, optimize-funnels, create go-to-market plans, launch new product/features, to name a few.

These are the 4 support Pillars of our ‘EmpowHER’ program:

  1. Buddy’s support for seamless integration with the role.
  2. On-the-job/ Self-learning via LearnED sessions (our in-house peer learning forum) and Udemy courses.
  3. Quarterly In-person brainstorming sessions with the team.
  4. Mentoring by Product leaders.

The interns who successfully complete the 12-month internship program and as per business requirements, get a chance to work as full-time employees at REA India.

This practical learning approach equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. The program’s goal is to offer a pathway to a full-time opportunity within the organization, allowing these women to advance their careers further. By creating this learning cum career opportunity, we aim to empower women in the tech industry and foster a more inclusive workplace.

Unconscious Bias training program –

We introduced an e-learning program on Unconscious Bias on our internal LMS.

It is a comprehensive and engaging module that delves deeply into the intricacies of unconscious biases. It serves as a crucial steppingstone to initiate meaningful and open conversations surrounding the familiar challenges encountered by diverse groups of people in Indian workplaces.

The module is designed as a 30-minute dramatized, situation-based experience with a specific focus on biases related to gender, generation, and culture. Through impactful scenarios and interactive elements, the program aims to cultivate empathy, raise awareness, and encourage mindful interactions among people.

By exploring various unconscious biases, the module helps participants recognize and understand their preferences and how these biases may inadvertently influence their perceptions and actions in the workplace. The emphasis on gender, generation, and culture bias ensures a comprehensive understanding of the diverse challenges individuals from different backgrounds may encounter. The program’s goal is to promote a more inclusive work environment where people demonstrate greater empathy, respect, and understanding toward one another. By increasing awareness of unconscious biases and their potential impact, this program empowers people at REA India to create a culture that celebrates diversity, fosters belonging, and supports the success of all team members.

Employee Testimonial for above initiatives: 

Testimonial for EmpowHER program:

I learned about this incredible opportunity at REA India through one of my LinkedIn connections. REA India offered women a unique opportunity to shift careers into Product Management. At that time, I was working as a Product Analyst and was looking for ways to transition into Product Management.  From day one, I have been on a continuous learning journey, and the initial two months involved upskilling through E-learning modules and live sessions to gain a strong foundation in product knowledge. Once equipped with the basics, I collaborated with the team, becoming proficient in essential Product Management tools like JIRA and CONFLUENCE.

As time passed, I took on more responsibilities, writing my PRDs, working on product features, and contributing to product development. The entire experience has been incredibly enriching, and I am grateful for the valuable learning and growth opportunities REA India provides.

Kallu Srinidhi Reddy, Intern-Product Management

Testimonial for Unconscious Bias Training

The HR team launched an engaging e-learning module on ‘Unconscious Bias’, which stood out due to its interactive nature and incorporation of real-world scenarios. This training provided me with valuable insights on identifying and mitigating unconscious biases, both in my professional and personal lives.

Anil Goyal, Principal Data Scientist – Technology

Testimonial for Sanitary Vending Machine at REA India:

Installing the sanitary vending machine at our workplace has been a game-changer for female employees. This thoughtful addition has had a significant positive impact on our daily lives. It shows that our well-being matters, and the company is willing to invest in initiatives that promote our comfort and health. We thank our management for recognizing our needs and prioritizing our well-being with this initiative.

Pooja Yadav, Relationship Manager – Primary Sales

Impact Statement: 

At REA India, we have embarked on a mission of creating an inclusive and diverse workplace.

We have made significant progress in improving the gender balance of our organization, increasing the representation of women employees in FY’23 by 21% from FY’22. This positive trend showcases our active efforts to enhance gender diversity within our workforce through various initiatives to advance DEI with full support from our Leadership Team.

Another impact parameter is the positive feedback received from our people on various DE&I initiatives. By fostering a greater understanding of diversity and inclusion, we believe we are creating a workplace where everyone feels supported and encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work.

Your advice for organizations looking forward to working in this area:

Embarking upon the journey of becoming an inclusive organization embracing underrepresented groups requires solid conviction and sponsorship from the top. It is important that you have a compelling reason and a value proposition for choosing to go this path.

The journey may not be easy because for several years we have been conditioned to operate in a certain way and questioning those norms will require courage and compassion. For more people, change is not easy, and it also doesn’t appear to be required. Thus, a big part of becoming a truly diverse organization is education and onboarding people on this agenda. Awareness around innumerous biases we are surrounded with and how it impacts the society we live in, the growth and prosperity of our Country, and the health and well-being of people is so critical. This won’t happen overnight and will require persistent effort, repeatedly, with every single member of the organization. Culture change is not easy, and it needs to transpire from every node of the organization network. Having diversity champions is a great way to model change, and if these champions can come from senior leadership, the impact will be high.

A common mistake that many fall for is to follow a cookie-cutter approach, not understanding your organizational context, culture, and dynamics.

Starting small but taking relevant steps towards this journey is essential. Launching programs or initiatives as a pilot helps in testing waters and making relevant changes to them to make them fit to be launched to a larger audience.

At REA India, we approached this journey with a clear vision, a thought-through strategy with well-defined actionables, and a committed set of individuals driving this agenda forward. Our participative approach and transparent communication helped onboard our people on this mission and also held us accountable in achieving what we have set out for.

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