How Myntra’s culture is empowering women professionals to grow above and beyond boundaries
The past few decades have witnessed significant progress towards achieving gender equality. And while there is still a lot of ground to cover to this end, ongoing conversations keep the focus on the topic steady, and that’s reassuring.
Society benefits at large if more women are included in the workforce. According to a report by Grant Thornton India, having an equal number of women in the labour force could increase the GDP of the country by close to 30 percent.
Since its inception, Myntra has been a strong advocate of equal opportunities for everyone. With the right guidance, opportunities and support, the organisation enables its women team members to break barriers and scale new heights. ‘The Pathfinders’ series showcases Myntra’s commitment to women empowerment by sharing stories of women who are trailblazers in their own right.
In the first article of this series, read on to know about how Myntra’s enabling culture and policies have helped these women of Myntra to unlock their full potential.
A culture that encourages initiative and creates leaders
When Bindiya Bhatt first started working with Myntra in 2014, she realised she was in a truly unique space — one that encouraged employees to take initiative, regardless of their gender, or personal background. “One of the things that really stood out for me was the entrepreneurial work culture of Myntra. That actually helps a person to take up ownership. There is room for mistakes, which you can then learn and unlearn from,” she says, adding that it has allowed her to consistently be part of blue ocean strategies that have contributed to both her growth as a professional, and that of the organisation. She has steadily risen through the ranks and is currently Director for Category Management, managing a gamut of brands including some key women-related categories while working towards creating an elevated customer and partner experience.
“It has been such a positive exchange of learning and sharing, both within my team at Myntra and beyond. Watching women entrepreneurs scale up their brands in this journey together has been a satisfying and encouraging experience, but even more has been to see them grow to be such confident individuals in their demeanour and about their craft!” says Bindiya. This culture of enablement also plays out internally in the team dynamics. “The intent (of Myntra’s culture) is that you're not just going to be a team leader, but also foster future leadership,” says Bindiya, who has transitioned from being not just a team leader but a ‘team enabler’.
“Myntra gives us the independence to experiment and make decisions that could take (the company) to a different level. It also gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and encourages us to reach our full potential,” shares Parul Gupta Director – Business Finance at Myntra. Both Bindiya and Parul attest that such a level of trust has developed their ability as leaders.
“Myntra is an employer that not only works towards taking business towards greater heights but invests a lot in its employee growth. It is a company which consistently helps in up-skilling its workforce, which helps them rise above and beyond, shaping up their career and making them ready to become future leaders. I have lived the journey of being ‘Lead to Leader’ at Myntra” says Parul.
Walk the talk: Empowering women professionals
As Associate Director for Human Capital at Myntra, one of Kriti Jain’s most important tasks has been to enable the growth of Myntra employees through inclusive programs and policies. Kriti recounts how the company’s culture of care, empathy and support helped her reach closer to her objective.
She narrates, “When I returned from maternity leave, I got a lot of support from across the board. At the same time, people never assumed things such as I would not be able to take up my regular responsibilities or that I might need a break. I was always given the freedom to choose (my comfortable level of workload) during this crucial period. And I think that's what creates a difference in how an organisation empowers you.”
At Myntra, empowerment for women employees also involves facilitating their professional development through a structured classroom approach along with support from leaders while on the job. “We have a women leadership development programme called ‘Flying Lessons’ where women at the mid-to-senior levels are groomed for leadership positions. They are coached on different topics, right from networking to communication skills to building a virtual presence during this four-month long journey,” Kriti says. The programme also involves one-on-one mentoring with the senior leaders. For the organisation at large, workshops and speed mentoring sessions are conducted from time to time, where women get to interact with senior women and men leaders.
The culture of Myntra supports personal empowerment and in turn enables women leaders to empower their teams. And this empowerment is not restricted to just the employees of Myntra but ripples through the larger ecosystem. Saumya Chandra is a Senior Manager for Marketing at Myntra and is currently leading the influencer charter. Her work entails managing influencers to create relevant content for Myntra Studio — the organisation’s content hub on all things fashion and lifestyle. It has over 1,800 influencers working with Myntra, 70 percent of whom are women. "And these women are creating content not only around fashion but also about body positivity and mental well-being, inspiring other women to be comfortable in their own skin,” she says, adding that Myntra Studio works and supports both well established influencers as well as women influencers who are good at creating trending content from their homes based in tier II and III cities, and small towns, many of whom are sole bread earners.The content created by this group of influencers is extremely progressive, carrying a message of change, freedom and acceptance, which is also a reflection of Myntra’s cultural philosophy.
Myntra’s support has helped some of these influencers navigate through the challenges of the pandemic, at times when many businesses have come to a standstill and things have been low-key overall. “At such times, the spirit of empowerment has also translated into our teams helping the influencers create non-fashion content to amplify the community messages through the particularly rough patches of the pandemic, and in turn, stay relevant to the times,” says Saumya.
The Myntra playbook for inclusivity
For Kriti, the motivation to create a more inclusive workplace comes from a personal experience of facing biases.
Knowing that there are the places where women probably needed structural support in advancing their careers, Kriti, with strong support from the leaders, set out to craft a supportive Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) charter. Among the many initiatives that stand out is, ‘We For She’, a focused effort towards creating equitable growth for women at Myntra.
She also outlined how Myntra’s programme supports mothers and motherhood in a holistic manner. “We handhold literally every expecting mom through their journey – right from the time they're going on maternity leave till the time they come back and settle into their roles,” she said, adding that the programme includes extended maternity leaves, emotional counselling, nutritional coaching, lactation counselling, among other initiatives.
At Myntra, training is provided to managers to detect and side-step biases, and create a more supportive environment for all employees.
“We've also taken a lot of steps to ensure that our hiring processes are bias-free. We educate our managers before every interview on certain dos and don'ts to this end,” says Kriti. All job descriptions at Myntra are gender-neutral. It's also interesting to note that Myntra also ensures that for every interview with a woman candidate, there is a mandatory woman panellist who can clarify any questions they might have.
Managers and leadership also go the extra mile in creating an inclusive workplace. Parul recounts how one female colleague wished to relocate after her marriage. “We ensured that we provided her a new position at her new location that matched the employee’s capabilities,” she says. Parul is also a very strong believer that women can do wonders if given the right opportunity. Following the principle of equal opportunity for all, she ensures a healthy diversity ratio in her team, which has seen a notable increase in the percentage of women employees since her joining.
Creating the women leaders of tomorrow
All the women professionals cited above agree that the support they receive from the leadership team goes a long way in creating a supportive environment. “We have very active champions for diversity and inclusion from our leadership. And that definitely helps with walking the talk, and helping institutionalise policies and making them come to life,” says Kriti.
Bindiya feels it is very important to hold (the initiatives) to its true spirit. She says, “The understanding from the topmost rungs of leadership at Myntra, and the women leadership summits within the organisation actually help build this momentum towards ensuring an inclusive and empowering environment for women to grow their careers,” she says.
The enabling culture at Myntra has also created a virtuous circle. Parul says she is also associated with forums outside the organisation in developing and mentoring women to reach leadership positions. These professionals are mentoring, supporting and reaching out to ambitious women in their own capacity, be it students, colleagues or other professionals in the ecosystem, and doing their bit towards creating an equitable workforce beyond the boundaries of the organisation.