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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Much More Than Gender

A ChapmanCG Global HR Leaders Forum in Mumbai

Hosted by: Bank of America Center for Creative Leadership

ChapmanCG was delighted to host an India HR Roundtable at the Bank of America office in Mumbai in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership. The roundtable brought together a group of senior HR leaders from various industries and backgrounds to discuss ways organisations in India can embrace DE&I. Attendees shared their experiences, best practices, challenges, and success stories related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The event was an excellent opportunity for HR professionals from sectors such as banking, education, consumer products, technology, services, media, and entertainment to collaborate and learn from one another on the topic of DE&I, which encompasses more than just gender.

DE&I is very relevant to HR professionals in India, and speaking to our network, it is clear that we have only just scratched the surface here. In a country as diverse as ours, we must focus more on the diversity of race, culture, ethnicity, language, and age. We are still trying to get to terms with the issue of gender diversity, which remains unresolved; hence both male and female allies and DE&I champions are essential to moving the dial.

It is also important to remember that equity and equality are not the same. Leaders must understand that everyone starts at different points, and company policies must be set accordingly. The HR leaders agreed that equity and inclusion are more challenging to implement. They felt that diversity can be embraced and more easily influenced in the recruitment phase, but equity and inclusion must be built from within. According to the research presented by CCL, there’s been a trend in some organisations to rename their diversity and inclusion strategy to put equity first, using the term ED&I instead of DE&I. According to the research, this small change has resulted in greater acceptance of these organisations’ strategies. It’s fascinating to see how a simple shift in language can make such a big impact.

During the discussion, the leaders brought up an important issue regarding the tendency of Indian corporations to only hire from a small number of universities when it comes to management and leadership positions. The perception is that these institutes produce the most highly qualified individuals, but whether this is truly inclusive and supported by data is a question worth exploring. To promote diversity of thought and create a fairer workplace, companies should reconsider this hiring criterion and be more open to candidates from a wider range of backgrounds.

On the topic of inclusion, everyone agreed that the recruitment function plays a significant role here. Not just the processes but the leaders involved in the process. Take care to ensure job descriptions, job postings, and the accessibility to vacancies are inclusive. The recruitment team and gatekeeping panel must be trained in inclusive hiring practices.

DE&I has become a matter of compliance in many companies, but there may be better approaches. DE&I should be driven via commitment and systems put in place to plan, execute and track its implementation. Having a clear agenda, bringing in accountability across all levels and using the correct input metrics are all critical to the success of this strategy. 

We were pleased to see the engagement from the HR leaders in attendance. The consensus was clear – real progress happens from intentional work for a topic as critical as this, and workshops like these help bring the agenda forward. 

Thank you to our hosts Somna Singh, Country HR Head and Amrita Anand, Vice President – India Recruitment Lead & Regional HRBP from Bank of America, and Muniinder K Anand, Managing Director of India & South Asia from the Center for Creative Leadership.

We look forward to hosting more networking opportunities for our HR community in India in the coming months.

Attendee Feedback

“The discussions were deep and insightful. It was eye-opening to note the myriad ways organisations approach the DE&I agenda. Each approach is unique in its nuances, but they are all united in their fundamental objective of creating the right environment where people can achieve their full potential. Thank you, Chapman CG, for organising this roundtable meeting.”

Senior HR Leader from a leading OTT player 

 “It was a meaningful conversation with colleagues from diverse sectors. Some real issues related to DEI surfaced naturally. In that sense, it was not only a conversation about good practices in our organisations but how some of these are also alive for us personally. I thank my colleagues for their vulnerability and openness to have such a transparent and courageous conversation.”

Jayesh Sampat, CHRO, Allen Career Institute

“This session provided many new insights from various participants, some of the best practices, and what are the ground realities.”

Vishal Sharma, Senior VP HR, Glenmark


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