Fostering Workplace Inclusion: Work Arrangement Policies & Programs such as SWRA

By: Divya Mohan, CHRO,

With 17 years of experience across multiple companies, Divya Mohan holds expertise in manufacturing, retail, and startups in hospitality and the product space. Having worked with firms such as  Innovaccer Inc., OYO, and Volvo-Eicher Commercial Vehicles Ltd., she is a seasoned professional in the industry.

In a recent conversation with Women Entrepreneurs Review Magazine, Divya sheds light on workplace policies and the SWRA initiative. Underlining the challenges faced by women, she speaks about how the initiative helps them succeed. Here are selected excerpts from the conversation.

In your experience, what impact can progressive workplace policies have on supporting women's re entry into the workforce?

In order to support women re-entering the workforce, one must address the various reasons they leave, such as personal commitments and different life stages like elder care and childcare. These transitions often prompt women to step back and cater to the issues at hand. Therefore, it is crucial to create opportunities not only for women to join organizations but also to develop policies, support systems, and learning ecosystems that help them sustain their careers. Many women return to work but leave again when faced with similar challenges.

A significant roadblock for women re-entering the workforce is transitioning between life stages, which often prompts them to reassess their career fulfillment. Creating a supportive workplace is crucial. Offering opportunities aligned with their skills, providing training, and ensuring flexibility are essential. Many women are still expected to manage household responsibilities, making supportive policies vital.

From a broader business perspective, what benefits have you observed as a result of supporting and empowering women in the workforce through initiatives like SWRA? How has this impacted the overall organizational culture and performance?

The SWRA initiative was launched in March 2024. We announced that as an organization, we support women returning to the workspace after a break and would provide them training for re-entry. Currently, there are training modules on handling interviews, job shortlisting, and making informed choices. We train individuals applying through SWRA on these aspects. Our organization values inclusivity and actively supports it by offering opportunities for women to apply, receive training, and regain confidence, alongside implementing supportive work policies.

We have recently formalized our work-from-home policy. For specific roles, employees can work from home four times a month and single parents and young mothers can work from home up to eight days a month. However, managers and employees have the flexibility to mutually decide on this work arrangement creating a win-win situation.

In my experience, merely launching a policy or claiming to support diversity is not sufficient. Companies need to strike a balance where both the organization and the individual benefit. In our environment, while flexibility is available, it is crucial to support employees through a hybrid work model at various stages of their careers.

Diversity means including people from different backgrounds, identities, and economic situations. Why differentiate? At InsuranceDekho, we prioritize cultural parameters, encapsulated, where inclusiveness is paramount. We strive to foster an inclusive organization that extends beyond gender diversity to embrace diversity in age, race, and thought. We encourage diverse thoughts and opinions, defining diversity broadly, not solely in terms of gender.

As a CHRO, how do you ensure that the SWRA Initiative remains a priority within the organization and receives the necessary support from senior leadership and key stakeholders? What strategies or advocacy efforts have been instrumental in driving sustained commitment?

We launched SWRA with the legendary Mary Kom, who perfectly resonated with our vision for the initiative. She is a perfect example for women who are eager to return to the workforce after overcoming personal hurdles. Following the launch, we focused on designing a comprehensive learning module. When we spoke to women who applied to the program, we learned they were often intimidated by the prospect of facing interviews and uncertain about their relevance in the job market. They needed help with simple tasks such as revising their resumes. Based on this feedback, we created a training module to address these needs and are now delivering it, focusing on these basics.

Regarding the training, candidates deemed suitable are currently undergoing interviews by multiple teams. This initiative requires the entire organization’s commitment. It's not limited to SWRA; we encourage more women to apply.

SWRA wasn't exclusively for all women; it was made for women who took breaks from work for personal or health or family related reasons, because this was a separate segment altogether. We are now monitoring the number of interviews conducted, offers extended, and dropout rates. Additionally, we have introduced new policies as discussed in the earlier questions. All of this together is how we are looking at the success from an end-to-end perspective.

How has the SWRA Initiative contributed to a broader cultural transformation within the organization, particularly in terms of shifting perceptions and attitudes towards women in the workforce?

In my experience within InsuranceDekho, we didn't need SWRA to respect women or to appreciate the value that women bring to the workforce. We have a significant population of women in sales, fostering a culture of tolerance, respect, and camaraderie. SWRA didn't change behaviors but reinforced the idea that women face many challenges and still succeed in their careers and that they need support to come back and reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Understanding the sacrifices many women make to balance their home and family, such as leaving their jobs to care for their family, children, or their health, is crucial. Behaviorally, there wasn't much difference because we already have a very diverse workforce and are focused on increasing the representation of women in various leadership roles. That's how I perceive this initiative.

Considering the ongoing digital transformation, how do you aim to equip women employees with the necessary digital skills to thrive in the future of work?

We have clear learning tracks which have been defined, similar to an academy approach. For every managerial level, from first-time managers to senior leadership, there's a structured training program focusing on both functional and behavioral aspects of the job. Our frontline staff undergo a comprehensive month-long training covering product training, digital training, and industry-specific insights, alongside company-specific training on processes and systems. Additionally, there is an emphasis on behavioral training to enhance job performance. This initiative is inclusive and available to all employees, not exclusively to women. However, we do organize women-centric catch-ups across our nationwide network to provide a safe space for women to voice their concerns. There is a women centric leadership coaching program to create pathways for women at mid management level to grow into leaders and thrive once they get there. Beyond that, our digital training, including excel and product training, is equally accessible to everyone.