Article: Lead diversity with sound policy: Megha Sinha, Chief Compliance Officer, GE Gas Power Asia


Lead diversity with sound policy: Megha Sinha, Chief Compliance Officer, GE Gas Power Asia

Good organisational policy, progressive leadership, and recognition by society - these are the things that shape DE&I purpose and strengthen commitment at all levels. Megha Sinha, Chief Compliance Officer at GE Gas Power Asia, tells People Matters why.
Lead diversity with sound policy: Megha Sinha, Chief Compliance Officer, GE Gas Power Asia

There are many ways to view diversity, equity, and inclusion: as the values of an individual organisation driving its culture, as a matter of corporate social responsibility and obligation to the community, certainly as a business case for the resilience of the organisation. One less-highlighted perspective, however, is the role that strong governance and compliance plays - the internal processes that underlie DE&I messaging and tangibly direct, enable, or enforce it as needed.

People Matters asked , for her thoughts about this aspect of DE&I. Based out of Malaysia, Megha runs GE’s integrity and compliance programme for the company’s operations across the region - ensuring that business strategies, from formulation to execution, fall within the bounds of ethical business conduct. She leads the GE Women’s Network in Malaysia, the internal organisation network created in 1997 to accelerate the advancement of women in the workplace.

Here are some of the points she shared.

What are your thoughts on the intersection between internally driven corporate diversity efforts, broader social movements, and external requirements for diversity?

Across both spheres, there has been a joint focus on transparency and equality. There is a huge merit to observing these intersections in the long-term, and I believe it will be crucial to us driving equal opportunity outcomes.

Both the corporate world and social activists have agreed on one thing — to hone-in on strategies to generate long-term, sustainable progress on diversity and inclusion across the board. Specifically, we are seeing greater intent to identify the root causes of exclusion and inequality, and greater investment in the solutions to address these challenges. Various mounting pressures and requirements on corporates have also led organisations to rethink, identify and mitigate the various barriers and biases in recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent. 

We are also seeing wider recognition by all aspects of society to encourage diversity of talent and thought, which can help accelerate innovation across all industries. In my view, the intersection between corporate diversity efforts and social movements has only catalysed and spurred greater ideas for our collective future. 

What role do you feel compliance and ethics plays in advancing diversity within companies?

The corporate world has largely recognised that inclusion and diversity can only be beneficial to the competitiveness of their organisation, and help create new value for customers, investors, and employees alike.

To be able to drive a diverse culture across any organisation, however, requires a concerted commitment from leadership and employees. This is also where having designated internal teams and functions help lead the purpose.

Developing a strong culture of compliance and ethics can also play a vital role in driving diversity and equality efforts within an organisation.

For example, at GE we believe that fostering an inclusive culture empowers everyone to do their best work, because they feel accepted, respected, and that they belong. We believe in the value of each person’s unique identity, background, and experiences. In the same spirit, our code of conduct emphasises the importance of diversity, integrity and respect within the workplace — through defined policies that guide employees on GE values, while providing them with a platform to report any violations or concerns. These efforts ensure that we are always advancing diversity within our organisation.  

From that perspective of compliance and ethics, what makes a good DE&I policy?

Meritocracy should be key in driving any internal decisions.

A good policy is the one that focuses on highlighting the blind spots and unreasonable biases that may cloud one’s judgement.

Similarly, any corporate decision should be based on the sheer best outcomes presented from any business proposal, irrespective of who makes that proposal and from where.

Having spent years in a male-dominated industry, how have you seen the barriers to women professionals change? Which ones have diminished, and which ones are still problematic?

Today, you could walk into a project site at a remote location or meet a machine operator in a manufacturing plant, and you may be greeted by several female employees — a pleasant, progressive shift from industry norms and standards just a decade ago. Barriers to workforce entry are diminishing, and I am encouraged that GE continues to see more women heading leadership roles that span key business, sales and industry functions, more than ever before. That said, we continue to work tirelessly towards strengthening our diversity data and achieve 100% pay equity across our businesses, and I am heartened that we will see greater progress in these areas in the years to come. 

What are some of the successful initiatives the GEWN has been able to roll out? Could you share a few thoughts on what helped to make these succeed?

I count myself fortunate to be part of an organisation that has been an ardent supporter of diversity and inclusivity efforts, and that has been steadily breaking gender biases for last 25 years. Part of how we have championed this is through our GE Women’s Network (GEWN) across the globe, which aims to empower, energise, and elevate women for equity.  

We focus on driving leadership opportunities and visibility for our female staff across GE’s geographies and businesses, and accomplish this through several means — providing leadership, support and mentoring opportunities, and encouraging a sharing of knowledge and best practices, with the aim of inspiring women to realize their full potential and be agents of change in their spheres of influence.  

We have dedicated teams of both male and female leaders and volunteers across the world who are committed to this purpose.  I am proud to have been part of the network for over a decade as a member, and have led the hub in Malaysia for over a year now. 

As part of this responsibility, I look at opportunities to provide learning platforms to our female employees, as well as platforms for our members to share their experiences and personal stories, since that allows us to hear and learn from diverse perspectives. We also look for ways to celebrate our female employees and ensure that they are supported within this community, and on their various journeys. Most importantly, what has made these initiatives and the wider network successful is a common goal of ensuring that women are empowered, respected, and included, with no room for biases.

What do you see as the next step for driving diversity and workplace empowerment for women?

I think there is room to see greater commitment from senior management boards across organisations to diversity, inclusion, and equity within the workplace — across industries and geographies. Part of this requires organisational leaders to review the way roles are distributed and elevated and drive more diverse representation to close any gaps at the leadership level. This will go hand-in-hand with respecting, retaining and rewarding talent. 

Above all, we need to recognise that all of us have a role to play in breaking biases, and we can begin by acknowledging differences, and challenging our unconscious assumptions.

Within GE, for instance, we have deployed lean operational models to better understand and solve for diversity challenges, such as recruitment and retention. A cross-business team created a standard guide for our managers on how to better ensure a more inclusive and equitable experience for each employee. Our intention is to ensure meaningful change and improvements to our processes and tools, such that the progress we make on diversity and inclusion is sustainable. We will continue building on these foundations and we are optimistic about what we can achieve in the long term.

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Topics: Diversity, #BreaktheBias

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