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HomeNewsInterviewsDEI commitment multiplies positive impact on employee retention: Mahi Rath, AHEAD

DEI commitment multiplies positive impact on employee retention: Mahi Rath, AHEAD

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The commitment to DEI principles has positively influenced employee retention, emphasising the organisation's dedication to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and respected, said Mahi Rath, HR Director at AHEAD India.

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The emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion () and Environmental, Social, and Governance () has become predominant for businesses in view of growing shift towards sustainable and equitable operations.

Women have increasingly taken on crucial roles in these areas, marking progress in corporate inclusivity and responsibility. However, according to a senior industry leader, the journey toward complete gender parity and the full integration of DEI and ESG values into corporate cultures continues, indicating the need for ongoing dedication to effectuate substantial change. 

In an exclusive interview with TechObserver.in, , HR Director at AHEAD India, said “As a result of the DEI push, there have been heightened levels of innovation, improved problem-solving capabilities, and elevated employee morale. The commitment to DEI principles has also positively influenced employee retention, emphasising the organisation's dedication to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and respected.”

Edited Excerpts:

Can you share an example of how you have integrated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles into your leadership approach or within your organisation's strategic initiatives? What impact did this integration have on your team or organisation's culture?

In my leadership role, a notable example of integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles involved the adoption of inclusive hiring practices. This strategic initiative focused on cultivating diverse candidate pools, addressing biases in the selection process, and ensuring equitable opportunities for all applicants. The impact of this integration can be seen in how it has significantly diversified our workforce and cultivated a culture of inclusivity. As a result, there have been heightened levels of innovation, improved problem-solving capabilities, and elevated employee morale. The commitment to DEI principles has also positively influenced employee retention, emphasising the organisation's dedication to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and respected. 

As a woman leader in your field, what is the most significant challenge you've faced related to gender equity or inclusion? How did you overcome it, and what opportunities did this challenge create for you or your organization?

As a woman leader in my field, a significant challenge I encountered early in my career was navigating implicit bias and stereotypes that often undermine the leadership capabilities of women. To counter this hurdle, I proactively showcased my skills, expertise, and achievements, consistently proving my competence. Seeking mentorship from both male and female leaders further bolstered my efforts, gradually changing perceptions and earning recognition for my contributions. Overcoming this challenge presented an opportunity to champion gender equity and inclusion within the organisation. I initiated dialogues emphasising the importance of diverse leadership representation and implemented mentorship programs to support aspiring female leaders. Leveraging my experiences, I mentored other women facing similar challenges, empowering them to navigate and excel in their careers. This transformative journey not only fortified my leadership skills but also played a pivotal role in fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

How do you align your personal leadership values with your organisation's Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals? Can you discuss a specific project or initiative you've led or been a part of that reflects this alignment?

As a leader deeply committed to advancing organisational success through impactful Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies, I ensure alignment between my personal values and the company's objectives. This involves integrating sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical governance principles into our decision-making processes and daily operations. A concrete example of this alignment is the implementation of community outreach programs during my leadership tenure. These initiatives targeted key areas such as education, healthcare, and economic empowerment, directly addressing social needs and promoting inclusive growth. Concurrently, we elevated our governance practices by fortifying compliance mechanisms, advocating for diversity within our board, and prioritizing ethical business conduct. This integrated approach not only deepens the harmony between my personal values and the organisation's ESG goals but also exemplifies a tangible commitment to creating positive social and environmental impacts through strategic initiatives.

Mentorship can play a crucial role in professional development. Can you talk about a mentorship experience where you have either mentored someone or been mentored by someone else? How did this experience empower you or the person you mentored, and what lessons did you learn about leadership and empowerment through this experience?

I completely agree that mentorship is very important in professional development, and I had the privilege of being guided by a seasoned and dynamic leader, fundamentally altering my views on leadership and growth. The mentor not only offered guidance and support but also pushed me beyond my comfort zone, encouraging exploration of new opportunities. One major lesson that emerged from this mentorship was around the significance of relinquishing control and empowering others to realise their full potential. Instead of micromanaging tasks, my mentor urged me to delegate responsibilities, placing trust in my team's capabilities. This experience helped me understand that effective leadership isn't about exerting authority but enabling others to unleash their talents, yielding extraordinary results.

True leadership, as imparted by my mentor, involves uplifting others, cultivating a culture of trust and empowerment, and creating opportunities for individual flourishing. This mentorship experience profoundly shaped my understanding of leadership and empowerment, emphasizing the profound impact of supporting others in their professional journey.

Looking towards the future, what changes do you hope to see in your industry regarding women's leadership and empowerment? What steps do you think are necessary to achieve these changes, and how are you contributing to making these changes a reality?

I envision a future where there is widespread acceptance and celebration of women's leadership and empowerment across industries. Some of the changes I look forward to in my industry are – more women in leadership roles at all organisational levels, including boardrooms and executive suites, women should get equitable access to career growth, skill development, and mentorship opportunities, necessitating the eradication of gender biases in recruitment, promotion, and compensation, policies promoting work-life balance, such as flexible scheduling, parental leave, and childcare support, benefiting women and fostering diversity.

However, all these changes will need some strategic steps such as organisational leaders need to champion gender equality by setting clear goals, measuring progress, and ensuring accountability, they should also increase awareness about the benefits of gender diversity and challenge stereotypes through training, workshops, and awareness campaigns and must provide collaboration opportunity among industry stakeholders, government agencies, and non-profits to address systemic barriers to women's leadership.

My commitment to realising these changes involves advocating for gender equality, fostering an inclusive culture, and providing mentorship. I already mentor female colleagues, and advocate for gender-balanced leadership teams. By leading by example and championing diversity and inclusion, my aim is to contribute to a future where women's leadership and empowerment become the norm rather than the exception.

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Shalini Shukla
Shalini Shukla
Shalini Shukla is Correspondent at TechObserver.in. She has keen interest in start-ups, emerging technologies and education sector.
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