03 May 2018

Pratap is “Senior Director HR” at Maersk and is responsible for heading Human Resources for the Maersk Global Services business in India, China & Philippines. He is Thought Leader and is passionate about Leadership Development and Coaching. He was associated with brands like Marico, Pepsi, Blowplast, GE, Genpact & Tata’s.

What does Diversity mean to you and why do you think it is so important?

To me, Diversity means more than singling out any one underrepresented group and at the very core is essentially building “Diversity of thought” that is well recognized to be of both tangible and intangible value. At Maersk, Diversity means to be able have access to diverse range of talent; supporting and involving them as well as elevating their sense of commitment and purpose. While there are reams of research on how Diversity benefits the bottom line, to me it comes down to a simple fact,Diversity drives innovation and that is the only competitive advantage in these times of disruption.

Organizations are now focusing on Diversity and working towards building a culture of inclusiveness, how can leaders truly build an inclusive culture at every level in the organization?

Inclusion is the glue that binds Diversity. The stage where Diversity is adopted by the organization beyond the simple need for ‘representation’ is the stage of successful inclusion. At this stage Diversity is integrated into the strategic goals and core processes. Such Organizations encourage the line managers and leaders to build a culture of inclusion, where different perspectives are heard, valued and leveraged to contribute to the success of organization. For the employees, this means they value the organisation as an employer of choice for ALL different types of employees. At Managerial level, it translates to when a Manager values a diverse team and diverse perspectives and ensures decisions are made without bias. Finally, at Leadership level, it is seen when every Executive, leads a culture of inclusion, seeks out diverse perspectives and values diverse talent as a competitive advantage

The concept of having more Women Leaders has been discussed for decades now, why do you think organizations are still struggling with very few women leaders in top positions?

While there are many reasons organizations struggle with fewer women leaders, most place the reason to the narrowing of the pipeline as one goes up the hierarchy. However, in my view, this is just a symptom and not the root cause. At the core, many organizations do not deal with all aspects of Inclusion with the same impact. Few organization, for example, would have placed tight measures around driving diverse shortlist and Diverse interview panel composition to ensure bias free processes. Similarly, fewer organizations track return to work for women post Maternity or have dedicated programs for reintegrating women back into workforce post a break. This points to a lack of a principle centered approach to the subject. In places where organizations do take effort to drive Inclusion, the effort is often misguided, like mandating certain positions that are seen ‘women friendly’, resulting in some bias towards positions vis a vis true equal opportunity.

What does a commitment to Diversity & Inclusion mean to you and how are you demonstrating it?

Like any large cultural change, driving Diversity & Inclusion needs both confidence and motivation in equal amounts for commitment. My commitment to Diversity & Inclusion starts with leading actions that can influence a positive change in behaviours of Leaders and constantly work to identify and address barriers that exist to attracting and retaining diverse talent. To do this, we have adopted a balanced mix of a ‘push and pull’ approach. While having a defined Diversity targets outlined at Leadership Levels however we do not see it as just a score carding exercise but focus holistically on inclusion practices and mindset change that help drive greater accountability with regards to Gender Diversity.  Programs for woman leadership development, opportunities for ongoing learning and networking for all women leaders and training to make all Leaders & teams to address Unconscious bias need to be instituted.

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