Article: Philips reports 25% increase in women advancing careers internally - Head of HR shares tips


Philips reports 25% increase in women advancing careers internally - Head of HR shares tips

Vishpala Reddy revealed that an increasing number of women are opting for Philips for their career advancement. She noted that currently, one out of every four female employees at Philips India is progressing within the organisation, a significant rise from one out of every six last year.
Philips reports 25% increase in women advancing careers internally - Head of HR shares tips

Career advancement can pose unique challenges for both men and women, but these hurdles often differ due to various societal and organisational factors. Women, in particular, face systemic barriers such as gender bias, limited access to mentorship opportunities, and a lack of representation in leadership roles. 

Additionally, women often encounter difficulties balancing work and family responsibilities, especially in cultures where traditional gender roles prevail. These challenges can hinder their career progression and contribute to the gender gap observed in higher-level positions. 

It is crucial for organisations to take proactive measures to address these disparities and create a more equitable workplace environment. By implementing policies that promote diversity and inclusion, providing mentorship and sponsorship programs tailored to women's needs, and offering flexible work arrangements, companies can help mitigate the obstacles women face in advancing their careers. 

Moreover, fostering a culture that values and celebrates diversity can attract top female talent and enhance overall organisational performance. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of organisations to recognise and address the unique challenges women encounter in their career journeys. 

During an interview with People Matters, Vishpala Reddy, Head of Human Resources, Philips Indian Subcontinent, highlighted fostering an inclusive workplace culture and implementing supportive policies and programs to empower women to overcome barriers and thrive in their professional pursuits. 

Excerpts from the interview: 

How many women currently hold leadership positions, and what specific strategies has Philips employed to attain its objective of achieving a 35% representation of women in leadership roles by 2025?

Recognising the unique perspectives and experiences women bring to the table that can lead to more innovative and collaborative decision-making, we are committed to enhancing diversity across all levels. At Philips, we have about 30% representation of women at senior leadership levels, and we are also actively working to strengthen our mid to senior leadership teams. 

To cultivate leadership examples and sponsorships within the organisation, we have adopted a multifaceted approach that includes both external hiring and internal talent movement. With our aim to nurture every employee in a customisable manner, we have established structured mentorship programs tailored to empower women in their career journeys, including initiatives like the Catapult program. These programs offer mentorship and peer coaching opportunities, facilitating career improvement, and fostering aspirations toward leadership roles. 

In addition, we are actively investing in leadership development initiatives focusing on skills crucial for success in leadership positions, such as communication, negotiation, and strategic decision-making. As we strongly prioritise diverse hiring practices, our team of experts seeks qualified candidates, including women, for leadership roles through inclusive recruitment processes. Flexible work policies are in place to support work-life balance for all employees, contributing to career progression. 

Leaders are held accountable for promoting gender diversity and inclusion within their teams, with encouragement to mentor and advocate for women's advancement. Clear, measurable goals for increasing women's representation in leadership roles are set, with regular progress tracking to ensure accountability and drive further advancement. These comprehensive strategies reflect Philips' commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.

What support and resources are provided to women within Philips to help them advance into leadership roles?

Mentorship is one of the key factors to unlocking career success, as it facilitates growth and builds a culture of continuous learning and knowledge-sharing. At Philips India, we assist our employees in exploring gigs that encourage them to diversify their skills by taking on roles beyond their usual scope. We are also focusing on enhancing our talent mobility initiatives to improve retention, increase our employee engagement, and improve performance. Our flexible benefits plan also empowers women to work at their own pace and space, further enhancing the productivity among female employees.  

For our women employees, the Philips Women League (IPWL) Employee Resource Group has devised the Catapult program to empower our women employees in advancing their careers through targeted mentorship and peer coaching. The platform has mentors available to guide and coach women employees to enhance their skills for leadership positions. Through monthly mentoring sessions spanning 60-90 minutes, employees indulge in spaces of profound guidance and growth. The program also involves senior leaders who serve as mentors, offering a wealth of wisdom and empowerment to the women within our organisation. These leaders act as role models, helping mentees navigate their careers and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Besides this, a new program called GROW was launched to facilitate technical capability enhancement in women, with 75 + women learning a new technology and delivering business-relevant projects. Our Bangalore and Pune sites have R&D teams where there is a clear indicator of diverse teams being able to bring innovations faster into the market.  

How does Philips address potential barriers or biases that may hinder women's advancement in the workplace?

The women of today have the power to fight any cultural or systemic stereotypes or unconscious bias. With our consistent efforts to eliminate any kind of workplace bias, we have made significant progress by introducing policies like the Back in the Game initiative which aims to support women who have taken breaks from their corporate careers, whether due to sabbatical or maternity leave, by providing opportunities to rejoin the workforce and engage in active strategic projects. Philips has also curated a program for hiring managers called ‘License to Hire’ which talks about why inclusion and diversity and mitigating bias are important. 

It is a mandatory program for all hiring managers to ensure we address potential barriers or biases at the stage of hiring itself. Additionally, Philips has a progressive workforce model in Chakan Factory in Pune where through its Diploma Apprentice Trainee (DAT) programme, in collaboration with the government, Philips has hired 100+ women apprentices from local communities such that this is their first job. 

This is the company's initiative to enable social inclusion. At the company's manufacturing facility in Pune, Maharashtra, over 62 % gender diversity has been achieved on the shop floor, reflecting its conscious efforts to increase the number of the cohort's participation in the workforce.

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Looking ahead, what additional steps or strategies does Philips plan to implement to further enhance gender diversity and inclusion in the organisation?

Gender inclusivity and diversity is an important parameter for the company that not only reflects our values but also encourages creativity among the employees. Our commitment to diversity-friendly policies and practices has resulted in more women choosing Philips for their long-term career growth. Currently, at Philips India, one in every four female employees is advancing within the organisation, compared to one in every six last year. 

Looking ahead, Philips aims to continue with its commitment to enhancing gender diversity and inclusion within the organisation. We continue to consistently measure ourselves on metrics to determine if our efforts are making an impact. Improvement in metrics like Diversity representation, retention, engagement metrics like inclusion and well-being, and utilisation of our focused programs continue to give us the confidence that we can move the needle. To ensure sustained progress, D&I has to be a continued priority for Leaders, HR teams and People Managers across the organisation. 

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Topics: Diversity, Leadership Development, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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