What are the key issues facing IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms? How are opportunities for employees in the sector, particularly women, expanding? And how important is diversity and inclusion in building a successful and growing company?
This Q&A is the first in a series of features, thought-leadership pieces, and insights from global IT and BPO firm Hexaware, which will explore these questions across the New Statesman Media Group.
Spotlight: Tell us about Hexaware and what it does.
Dr Vishwanath Joshi: Hexaware is an IT and BPO company that started in India and now has 42 global offices, a staff of 20,000, and is approaching one billion dollars in turnover.
S: How did you come to work there as chief people officer?
VJ: My journey at Hexaware started just over a year ago when I was brought in to replace the retiring chief people officer. I saw in Hexaware an opportunity where I could bring my knowledge and experience in creating a fantastic workplace. I worked in human resources for over 30 years before I moved into teaching, consultancy and research. My passion is working with leadership teams and managers to develop a great workplace in terms of employee engagement and employee experience, and to align those initiatives to business goals and objectives.
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S: How do you ensure an “employee voice” at Hexaware?
VJ: My 100-strong team and I work to ensure employees are at the centre of what we do. That means supporting dialogue throughout the company. We use online tools such as Yammer to provide a platform for our staff to communicate, something that has been critical during 2020 and the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our employees are encouraged to participate in discussions with people at the highest levels of the company. We have weekly meet-ups with our chief executive, R Srikrishna (aka “Keech”), coined “Coffee with Keech” to help employees have open discussions on the roadmap for the company. Hexaware also has a “Leadership Lantern Series”, where our leaders share their thoughts, vision and actionable goals with employees to include them in these strategic and practical discussions.
S: Hexaware is known as an inclusive and diverse company. What have you done to make this happen?
VJ: Hexaware has diversity in its DNA, and we have worked hard to ensure our company is a leader on this front. Firstly, we continuously examine and scrutinise our hiring policies and practices, together with our policies on progression and opportunities within Hexaware. Removing unconscious bias throughout these processes is vital to ensuring a fair workplace, something which employees value greatly. Our focus as an employer is to nurture our talent, upskilling or reskilling our employees to see them progress. Secondly, we engage with our employees to seek feedback and act on it. Our employee “EmpPower” survey shows how effective this is – 84 percent of staff say that we are an organisation that practices non-discrimination.
Finally, we have specific programmes to encourage and support diversity across our organisation. One of them is called “WeDifferent”, and it gives the Hexaware family an opportunity to rejoice in a sense of belonging and inclusiveness, which is such an important part of our brand identity. The theme this year was “We Celebrate Different”, and each global office has celebrated a festival from another country.
The host country gets to score the celebrations on their passion, authenticity, spirit and knowledge. A team in Mexico took the honours for their Diwali celebrations, the festival of lights observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, showcasing why the organisation is such a great place to work.
S: Hexaware has many female staff and leaders in an industry that is usually dominated by men. How have you supported women in particular?
VJ: Investing in our women leaders and their growth is an integral part of our work on diversity, and on the growth of the company. The Women@Hexaware (W@H) group is a leading voice in the company. They worked in tandem with the HR function to develop a leadership programme called Rising W@H that will mentor and support women who have the potential and desire to become business leaders.
A group of 30 have been handpicked across different corners of the globe for this two-and-a-half-year journey. The programme comes with support from national and international business schools, projects, and development opportunities with women leaders inside and outside the organisation. Together with our more general work on employee engagement, this work on women leaders means Hexaware will continue to be at the forefront in the sector.
S: Given your growth plans, what does 2021 have in store for you?
VJ: The year 2021 is big for us. While 2020 has been challenging for many companies, we are expanding and will be aiming to hire more than 6,000 more staff globally next year. It is also the year of diversity for our company, and we will be marking this across our entire organisation. When we hire those 6,000 people, we will be looking across our 42 offices to get talented people into Hexaware, and nurture that talent as part of our journey of growth.
Diversity is strength, both in a workplace that employees value and for our customers who are located around the world. Customers have greater confidence and see the business opportunities in working with diverse companies like Hexaware who can understand and meet their needs. This is something that will become even more important as we continue to grow. We are looking forward to doing this together in 2021, and to seeing the Hexaware family make an even bigger mark in the world.
This article originally appeared in a Spotlight report on the future of work and diversity.