Companies around the globe are supporting and facilitating diversity in the workforce and on their executive teams. Today we focus on one such company. Welspun Group is one of India’s fastest growing conglomerates. As a globally recognized leader in the fields of Line Pipes and Home Textiles, Welspun Group has captured a strong foothold in more than 50 Countries, it employs over 24,000 people, one of which being a fellow member of the Pink Petro community, Clarice Rogers (Vice President of Human Resources for the US).
Rajeev Singh, Chief Human Resources Officer for Welspun, takes a minute to discuss Welspun, and the value of diversity in the today's workplace.
Tell us a little about Welspun and what it mean to be a "Welspunite"
Welspun is a Global company with an Indian ethos. We are large enough to do business across the world and small enough to embrace each other. 'Welspunite' stands for 'Passion to go beyond excellence', to achieve what others may have not have thought of delivering and also enjoy a leadership position in everything that we do.
What is the upside and downside of being a CHRO, and how do you tackle these challenges in a global organization?
As a CHRO, I play the role of a Strategist as well as that of a Steward - a leader who not only orchestrates day-to-day HR operations but also shapes and implements overall strategy. Collaboration and inclusive growth are key to managing these challenges throughout the organization. These elements are an integral part of our new vision, reflected in Welspun 2.0
On your website it says Welspun, “pushes boundaries only to emerge victorious as an innovative solution provider that dares to commit.” How does this apply with respect to your HR practices?
'Dare to commit' has been the driver to getting the company to our current level. To take it forward, we are imbibing the spirit of 'Leading tomorrow together'. For HR, we are on a journey of HR transformation which is aptly supplemented by a new HR initiative, 'We Evolve'. We Evolve is all about putting in place progressive People policies and practices in order to create a unique experience for every Welspunite - current and prospective.
What strategic challenges do you face as a company, and how does diversity in your workforce and leadership team help you to tackle these?
Apart from challenges on the business front, integrating our global workforce is the key agenda for us. Our new vision manifested in Welspun 2.0 provides for inclusive growth wherein diversity is the key element. We look at diversity in a holistic way which covers diversity of thoughts, nationalities, gender, and appreciation of diverse cultural sets. Being in the manufacturing sector, our industry has it its own unique challenges on diversity. However, we are a company where more than 20 nationalities across the world and the leadership team are committed to encourage the same.
You recently recruited and hired one of our Pink Petro executive members, Clarice Rogers, as Vice President of Human Resources for the US. What attributes, qualities, and experience did Clarice exhibit in order to be selected for this role?
Clarice brings to the table an experience of having managed a large and diverse workforce as well as the integration of the overall philosophy of the organization. Her understanding of manufacturing and the oil and gas industry, and her experience supporting a global client base as well as understanding local sensitivities and culture, will add immense value to us and to the top management discussion agenda.
How does adding diversity to your executive staff benefit Welspun going forward?
With diversity comes an array of thoughts and strengths, both of which are important for an inclusive understanding and hence a well chartered surge ahead. I believe That diversity in the workforce fosters creativity, leading to innovation which is a key elements of our sustained success story.
Do you feel having a female in an executive role brings insights to Welspun that would otherwise be missed?
A female in an executive role adds strength and a diversity of thought, newer approaches and understandings that are different from the traditional processes that are often followed unflinchingly. They bring in emotional intelligence and connectivity, as well as a balanced perspective to the table in order to help improve organizational decision making.
While they’re all important, what do you see as the top competencies, that professionals should focus on, and how do you see Clarice contributing to the development of these competencies within your organization?
Collaboration, Inclusive Growth, Customer Centricity and Technology are the key competencies we are driving across the organisation in 2016. Clarice, with her vast experience across the Americas and global companies, will certainly contribute to developing our US organization to the next level. She has seen these competencies at work and will be able to help the entire organization understand their value.
One of your mission statements as a company is to be one of the top 10 most respected Indian brands. Do you feel that diversity, and in particular having women in key roles, contributes to achieving this goal; and if so, how?
We have set a target for ourselves as 20 by 2020. This means that we intend to have 20% women in our leadership roles by 2020. That diversity of thought and perspective will mo doubt make us more operationally innovative and successful. Our respect in the market will not only be because of the product we sell, but also because of the working environment and culture that we will provide for every Welspunite.
What would be your advice be to other companies looking to add diversity to their executive team?
For companies looking to add diversity to their executive team, it's imperative that they have a well balanced band with a good ratio of male and female employees and also a team well spaced out in terms of experience. The drive for gender diversity should not be a drive to improve a ratio or statistic, but a real and genuine effort to create a working environment where women contribute and the company values and leverages their contributions.
If you could give one piece of advice to women, with regard to their personal and professional growth, what would that be?
While everyone is championing the empowerment of women these days, it is important for women to understand that they need to empower themselves in order to move both their personal and professional growth forward. Supporting the cause of women is not enough. It is critically important to give them the platform to grow and showcase their talents. Women should bring to the company/corporation their passion and dreams, and leverage their entrepreneurial spirit in order to succeed.