Strategies for Driving Innovation and Empowering Women in the Workplace

By: Shrimati Vinita Singhania, Vice Chairperson & Managing Director, JK Lakshmi Cement Limited

Shrimati Vinita Singhania is a businessperson and an industrialist. With over 4 decades of experience working in different industries, she brings to JK Lakshmi a rich and diversified holistic business experience. Under her able guidance & leadership, JK Lakshmi Cement has expanded its product portfolio, further adding to the company’s growth. She also heads the “CSR Committee” constituted in compliance of the Company Law.

In the conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine, Vinita Singhania, Vice Chairperson & Managing Director, JK Lakshmi Cement Limited shares her views about what are the biggest challenges women face in terms of achieving empowerment and also shares about what strategies do business leaders employ to foster a positive and inclusive work environment for their employees.

How do business leaders stay updated on the latest HR trends and best practices to drive innovative initiatives within the organization? What strategies do you employ to ensure effective communication and change management during the implementation of HR initiatives?

The core purpose of implementing HR initiatives is to ensure that happy employees translateinto happy customers, leading to long-term business sustainability. Transparent communication and effective change management play a vital role in achieving this goal. I prioritize keeping employees well-informed about the purpose and expected outcomes of initiatives through regular updates and feedback sessions, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment among stakeholders. Feedback mechanisms such as surveys and focus groups are utilized to gather input and address concerns, promoting a culture of continuous improvement that aligns HR strategies with organizational goals. Some of the key HR initiatives for enhancing personal connections, Success Stories to drive a high-performance culture, We-Connect for team building and development, Customer-In-Culture for understanding customer satisfaction, and UDAAN as a participative forum for new ideas.

At a group level, regular inter-company conferences are held for all major departments. These conferences provide a platform to discuss and explore current and future market trends, as well as to share success stories and best practices among the different companies within the group. Additionally, a top management conference is organized, inviting business leaders from across the organization to share and learn about global trends, future business strategies, and insights from industry experts.

Another initiative is the Chairman's People Management Award, which aims to establish a framework for achieving excellence in HR processes and systems throughout the organization. Furthermore, efforts are made to be recognized as a leading employer in India through participation in national level surveys.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges businesses faces when expanding into new markets? How would you mitigate those challenges?

Expanding into new markets presents several challenges for businesses. One of the primary hurdles is gaining market knowledge and understanding, including cultural nuances, consumer preferences, and regulatory landscapes. Through market research, feasibility studies, and local expertise are essential to mitigate this challenge. Adapting to local conditions is crucial, requiring businesses to tailor their products, services, and business models to meet the specific demands of the target market. Compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks poses another obstacle, necessitating the engagement of legal experts and local advisors. Building a reliable network of local contacts, such as suppliers, distributors, and customers, is vital for market access and establishing a strong presence. The competitive landscape must be navigated strategically, utilizing differentiation strategies and effective marketing campaigns. Lastly, operational challenges arise, necessitating efficient processes, infrastructure investment, and skilled workforce management. By addressing these challenges proactively and adopting an adaptive approach, businesses can increase their chances of success in new markets.

In addition to above, we also focus on skill development & training programmes for employees to develop their personalities, enhance work proficiency, improve communication skills, time management and negotiation skills etc.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges women face in terms of achieving empowerment. How can workplaces promote gender equality and create an empowering environment for women employees?

In order to achieve empowerment, women face several challenges, including gender bias and discrimination, limited access to equal opportunities, a persistent gender pay gap, difficulties in maintaining work-life balance, and a lack of representation and visibility. To create an empowering environment for women employees, workplaces can take various measures. They should establish inclusive policies that provide equal opportunities for career growth and development, implement fair hiring practices, and offer mentorship and training programs. Addressing the gender pay gap is crucial, ensuring that women are compensated equitably for their work. Promoting work-life balance through flexible working arrangements and supportive policies can help women manage their professional and personal responsibilities. Additionally, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, where women's voices are valued and represented, is essential. Encouraging women's leadership and providing platforms for their visibility in decision-making processes can help break down barriers. Overall, creating an empowering workplace requires a commitment to gender equality, inclusivity, and providing support and opportunities for women to thrive and succeed.

What strategies do business leaders employ to foster a positive and inclusive work environment for their employees? What steps have to be taken to build a strong network and establish valuable connections in your industry?

The prioritization of fostering a positive and inclusive work environment that values diversity and inclusion at every level is a core belief. Equal opportunities are at the forefront, ensuring that all employees, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or background, feel valued and included. A diverse workforce drives innovation, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction. Comprehensive training programs are invested in to support the continuous professional growth of employees, enabling them to enhance their skills and competencies.

Fair and transparent hiring processes are implemented, focusing solely on skills, qualifications, and experience to eliminate discrimination. Collaboration and partnerships are crucial components of the networking strategy. By engaging with organizations both within and outside the industry, knowledge-sharing, innovation, and growth are promoted. Active involvement with industry associations, chambers of commerce, and trade bodies strengthens relationships with key stakeholders and enhances market position.

A range of training programs, including leadership development, business growth, technical aspects, behavioural competencies, finance, and workmen development, are organized in collaboration with reputable institutions. These programs provide valuable opportunities for individuals to expand their knowledge and expertise.

In the light of your robust professional experience, what would be your advice to the young women leaders?

Based on my professional experience, my advice to young women leaders would be to have confidence in their abilities and set ambitious goals for themselves. Seek out mentors and role models who can provide guidance and support. I would also advice embracing continuous learning and personal growth as one can use failures as stepping stones for growth.

Above all, lead with authenticity and integrity and inspire others through your actions and values. By following these principles, young women leaders can navigate their careers successfully and make a meaningful impact in their chosen fields.