Human Capital spoke to Anjali Rao, Director-Human Resources, Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd., who shared Intel’s D&I journey in India and the initiatives by Intel to come about as the Brand Ambassador of Inclusivity.
What is Intel India doing in terms of greater focus on gender diversity and how is it creating an ecosystem to include the People with Disabilities (PwDs) from the available talent pool?
Sure, I think diversity is a broad term, and for the longest time, the focus was always on gender diversity.
However, I have seen a shift in the last two to three years where diversity has got extended to include several other forms. As you described, one is what we call in Intel as Diverse Abilities which include people with disabilities. At Intel India, we have focused heavily on people with disabilities in the last two years. We have taken some goals around hiring people with disabilities and created an environment and the right infrastructure to set them up for success. I am happy to share that all our offices and work places have been enabled to cater to the needs of people with disabilities.
In addition, two other key focuses have been driven in the disability space. One is education about the talent that they bring to the table and how that talent can be harnessed for our kind of work. The second is talking about our inclusion efforts for this segment of people in the right external channels so that we are able to attract them into Intel. We have taken goals around hiring people with disabilities from colleges as college graduates or freshers. In some cases, we have taken goals to even hire experienced talent. Since this is a sensitive subject, we do not expect anyone to necessarily self-identify as a person with disability, therefore, we do not put a number to it. So, the effort has been to ensure that people understand that Intel welcomes persons with disabilities if they meet our skillset needs.
I think in the diversity space, when it comes to gender, a lot of efforts have been put in for many years now as we want to make sure that we have equal representation. We look at it from all angles.
In addition to gender and PwD, there is another segment that I believe has now come into focus - gender identity and sexual orientation or the LGBTQ+. I think it has been a long journey from where we have come from and where we are today when people are more open about their identity and orientation.
Companies understand that there is a significant LGBTQ+ population that could be an asset for the organisation to hire from. Again, because it is a very personal and private matter, the approach we took was to create employee resource groups and participate in job fairs and forums where Intel has a strong voice supporting and being inclusive of the LGBTQ+ population.
How has the Diversity and Inclusion journey been for Intel in India?
I would divide it into two parts. For a number of years, a lot of efforts went into diversity and bringing diverse people into the organisation. From that standpoint, the big focus was on our hiring, interviewing, integration, and on-boarding practices. In the past, two to three years in addition to bringing in diverse people, we are focusing on accelerating inclusion within the organisation.
At Intel, we do not see inclusion as just one set of activities, but we take a multi-pronged approach. Inclusion as a culture needs to be embedded in the organisation and felt by all employees. E.g. It’s important to have practices, policies, and benefits that are inclusive in nature. We are also developing an inclusion index which would give us a sense of how included our diverse population feels in the workplace. Last but not the least, we are embedding inclusion as a key theme for our culture evolution.
While same sex couples have more or less been mainstreamed in the Western World viz. the US and Europe, the Indian society, even after the recent ruling on Section 377 by the Supreme Court, refuses to acknowledge them. How does that translate in terms of diversity & inclusion when it comes to India for Intel?
The journey has not been as difficult as one would think and that is because Intel is very firm on non‑discrimination with the focus on creating an environment where all employees can achieve their full potential with a sense of belonging and acceptance for who they are.
As a company, we are very proud and focused in ensuring that these get reflected in our day to day work. So, when we actually embarked on our journey for including diverse people, and specifically LGBTQ+, we approached it in phases. We started by creating employee resource groups and it enabled a set of employees who think very deeply about that subject come together and start doing a small set of activities that are more advocacy oriented. For example, we hoist the pride flag every year at our campuses and that sees participation and support from our leadership team too. We make sure that we talk about this angle of diversity in our employee forums, and in our presentations, and we are very proud about it. We approach it from a standpoint of openness and embracing this diversity of thoughts.
With inclusion in mind, we have enhanced some of our employee benefits to cover this angle of diversity and I will just talk through a few of them.
◆ Enrolment of same-sex partner as a dependant: An Intel India employee can now enrol their same-sex and opposite sex domestic partner as a dependent or beneficiary in the healthcare and hospitalisation insurance policies, and this is a big one. This truly reflects that gender and marital status do not matter, and a domestic partner can be covered under this policy.
◆ Provision of gender reassignment procedures: Our healthcare benefits for employees have been enhanced to include gender reassignment procedures. This includes hormone therapies, surgical intervention and psychiatric consultations and medications that one may need as part of such a procedure. This is again a testament to the fact that we remain invested and committed to welcoming diverse people and our benefits also reflect the kind of support we have for them.
◆ Prioritisation of mental health: The third is mental health, which in general is a taboo topic, but at Intel India, we believe that mental health is as important as physical health. And if you are covering physical procedures and hospitalisation due to physical health, why not cover mental health too? And our insurance and our healthcare benefits actually extend to cover mental health conditions including hospitalisation as related to psychiatric, psychosomatic, developmental, anxiety or stress related disorders.
We also have outpatient programmes and outpatient coverage in case employees need to get consultation as a result of any mental health condition in addition to physical health condition that we have covered. Last but not the least, we also cover genetic disorders, any sort of external congenital conditions of a life‑threatening nature. We truly want to exemplify diversity and inclusion through our benefits that touch every employee at a very personal level.
How open is Intel’s leadership about being inclusive to people of different sexual orientations in the company?
I think any diversity inclusion effort needs a strong voice from the top and strong action that clearly shows that the leadership team truly believes in diversity and in being inclusive. At Intel, it is very much from the top, and our leaders and managers play a strong role in accelerating diversity and inclusion in the organisation.
Startup organisations are actually doing more than large companies when it comes to endorsing policies related to LGBTQ+. What are your views on this?
I am glad that smaller companies and startups are also embracing this change and are being very proactive. I think this entire change is reflective that the momentum in this space, whether it is people with disabilities or LGBTQ+s, is picking up. In my view, this is largely positive and I really think that we are headed in the right direction.
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