Driven by talent, inclusive culture, and business: Here’s what makes Lowe’s India a great career destination for all!
From a range of special programs for women to giving back to the community, Mohith Mohan, Vice President — HR & Corporate Operations, Lowe’s India shares how diversity and inclusion paves the way for innovation in an exclusive interview with YourStory.
Tuesday February 22, 2022,
10 min Read
Since it started operations in 2014, Lowe’s India has made significant progress in enabling and engaging customer experience for their $90B home improvement business. The Bengaluru-based retail technology, analytics and business operations center for Lowe's Companies, Inc. credits their tremendous growth to their 3,600+ employees, who work across categories such as core engineering, analytics, business operations, finance and accounting, product management, and shared services.
Life atis all about learning and growing, celebrating work, sharing great camaraderie, and giving back to communities.
To understand the culture of the company and how they’re supporting communities, we spoke to Mohith Mohan, Vice President — HR & Corporate Operations, Lowe’s India. At Lowe’s, Mohith leads the entire HR portfolio, including culture development, change management, recruitment, diversity and inclusion, workforce planning, organisation development, compensation and benefits, performance management, training and development, communications and branding, and CSR for the India centre.
YourStory (YS): You mentioned that a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is the foundation of your culture. What makes it so critical in today’s date?
Mohith Mohan (MM): Yes, and this commitment extends to every area of how we do things at Lowe’s, and it stems from the belief that our diversity is our strength. We believe that combining our differences helps us achieve outstanding results. So, it is essential to draw on the many differences in who we are, what we've experienced, how we think and celebrate them. Diversity drives better ideas, positive business results, and a greater connection with the communities we serve. Moreover, diversity and inclusion pave the way for innovation, and innovation enables us to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers and employees.
At Lowe’s, we always welcome new ideas and encourage diverse perspectives, learning through open dialogue with all who touch our business. And we want to continue creating valuable and meaningful career opportunities for our associates, supporting them and the communities they live in. We keep our commitment to diversity and inclusion through a variety of initiatives and programmes guided by the three pillars of our culture, diversity, and inclusion strategy:
Build a workforce that understands our customers' needs and how best to meet them
Foster an inclusive culture that supports the customer and serves the community
Provide better and more diverse services and solutions.
And to ensure inclusion is always a forethought and not an afterthought, we have created various associate-led Business Resource Groups to host community conversations, provide resources and guidance to both associates and managers, as well as opportunities to celebrate our diverse identities.
1. Women Empowered
The vision of this BRG is to help Lowe’s India become the employer of choice for women by creating a culture that attracts, develops, and retains the best women's talent at all levels. We focus on getting and elevating women's experience in technology, leadership, and community at large.
We strive to make Lowe’s a workplace of choice for the PWD community and position our company as an industry leader in workforce diversification towards PWD.
At Lowe’s, our commitment is to build a culture where individual gender choices are respected, and diversity is encouraged. We strive to develop an LGBTQI+ inclusive workspace that provides a supportive, nurturing platform for professionals of all genders to feel safe and thrive professionally.
During the pandemic, our BRG’s important work has continued virtually, and each day we are making progress.
That said, I feel that organisations that want to unlock their full potential must be purpose-driven and stand for something meaningful, offer work that’s highly and intrinsically rewarding, nurture individual differences and magnify the strength of its people, so they feel a real sense of belonging. At Lowe’s, we strive to do just that.
YS: ‘Equity at work’ plays a huge role in your culture. Can you tell us about it?
MM: We firmly believe in ‘equity at work’ over ‘equality at work.’ For us, equity means providing people with tools, opportunities, and mentorship to get on the same platform as others. For instance, our equitable hiring process ensures we have the best individual for the job. To build a high-performance culture where our associates can challenge themselves and grow in their careers, we have many signature learning programmes to ensure our best associates have opportunities to get even better. Our DEW and ACE* programs give high performers and uber-talented associates opportunities to learn new skills and fast-track their career growth. Likewise, through our programmes such as ‘Do-It-Herself’ for women on a career break and ‘Bring-Her-Back’ for returning mothers, we ensure that associates can have a thriving and fulfilling career at Lowe’s.
We also understand the value diverse sections of our society can offer to an organisation or the community through their unique talents and traits. Therefore, we have channeled our efforts to engage and hire differently-abled people, individuals from the LGBTQI+ communities, and even veterans with a defense background.
Apart from this, we also have a very engaging university relations programme from where we get fresh, young, and dynamic talent to join our technology and business operations teams.
YS: India’s female working population shrunk to 16.1 percent. At Lowe’s, what are you doing to get more women to join and excel in the workforce?
MM: Our endeavour is always to offer equitable career and growth opportunities to all our associates irrespective of who they are and where they come from. In 2021, our women hires stood at over 31 percent across levels. To ensure women continue to thrive at work, we have introduced various programmes across their professional journey
For women at campuses
We have the Code Name <Her> programme designed to identify and create a talent pool of women candidates from campuses and empower them by mentoring technology and employability skills. Over 150 candidates have been shortlisted for this programme.
For women associates who are part of Lowe’s
DEW (Developing Engineering Women’s careers) to provide a complete nine-month upskill programme for senior women software engineers to be future-ready for next-level roles. In addition to this, we have another signature programme called ACE—which is open to all engineering talent—designed to accelerate and fast-track the growth of aspiring engineers towards leadership individual contributor roles.
For women associates who are planning a family
MOM & Miracle Program is a 12-month ante-natal and post-partum on-call programme, which helps women associates in the journey of parenthood. 30 personalised sessions cover pregnancy and post-partum with experts.
Likewise, with Bring-Her-Back, we aim to elevate the experiences of returning mothers at Lowe’s India. The programme addresses the concerns on reintegration as our new mothers join back from maternity leave and aim to provide support across all three phases – pre-maternity, maternity, and reintegration post maternity.
For women on a career break
Do-It-Herself is a unique opportunity for women professionals who are on a break but looking to restart their careers. This programme provides a career re-integration opportunity, followed by a paid internship for selected candidates along with the possibility to be hired full-time at Lowe’s India. We ran the first cohort as a pilot with a 100 percent success rate. More than 250 candidates applied for our second cohort running in February 2022, and we shortlisted 80+ who have received an interview opportunity with Lowe’s India.
We have won a few awards for creating a workplace where women can thrive and build their careers and lives. For instance, we got certified as India's Best Workplaces for Women 2021 in Large Companies Category –Top 100' by the Great to Place to Work® Institute, India. In addition, ‘Working Mother & Avtar’ awarded us ‘One of the 100 best companies for women in India’ – in 2021.
YS: Coming to your other Business Resource Groups - PWD and LGBTQI+, how is Lowe’s offering an equitable and inclusive environment for them?
MM: We launched our ABLE BRG in 2020 to engage differently-abled individuals. The aim has been to spread awareness about their condition and induct them within our system. Through this BRG, we are creating an inclusive ecosystem at Lowe’s that provides a platform to attract, develop, and retain professionals with disabilities. To give you a few examples: Our Intranet Portal is now ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design) compliant, with the aim to make it an information source that associates with disabilities can navigate easily. Likewise, our physical workplace is very friendly for the PWD associates with ramps, special restrooms, etc. set-up across the facility.
Last year, we saw a 50 percent increase in the Ally group and with the collaboration of different teams, we created a clear onboarding programme sensitive to the needs of different individuals (including those from LGBTQI+ community). We have reviewed policies, procedures, benefits, and job descriptions to ensure LGBTQI+ employees’ inclusion. One of the key focus areas is to organise gender awareness and gender etiquette training, strengthen the allies’ group and initiate a structured onboarding program for allies, build LGBTQI+ ambassadors through Ally teams and engage external LGBTQI+ influencers for in-house events.
YS: I’ll bring in the point of ‘giving back’. To that end, how are you giving back to the community?
MM: We have done a lot in the last two years on COVID relief to improve and support the healthcare of our communities, For instance, investments in healthcare infrastructure for 26 government hospitals, including six oxygen plants; conducting vaccination drives for 10,000 underserved community members; providing dry food packets to 1,000 migrant workers as part of our Food Aid Program; and organising 45,000 tests in remote districts through mobile RTPCR testing van, among others.
I also want to take this opportunity to talk about the specialised skilling programmes we have run.
Throughout the last two years, the pandemic has changed the world in unusual ways, severely impacting the employment and financial standing of the underserved.
Moreover, the skill gap is a complex challenge that India faces; coupled with high school dropout rates, the issue becomes even more grave for candidates from underserved backgrounds or physical disabilities.
To meet this challenge, we at Lowe’s India crafted skill development programmes in partnership with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled (100 candidates), Lok Bharti (400 candidates), and Magic Bus (335 candidates) that advanced youth’s critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience.
We have seen many success stories of youth who were part of the programmes supported by Lowe’s India CSR. The skilling programmes we ran in FY 21 enabled more than 1,000 youths to get jobs during the pandemic.
YS: Going forward, what are your focus areas at Lowe’s and your message to our readers?
MM: We continue to build Lowe’s India as an employer of choice and hire great talent across various streams. We are currently expanding our teams across tech (engineering, analytics, product management, etc.), and business areas such as merchandising, marketing, supply chain, finance and accounting, financial planning and analysis (FPA), among others. If you are someone deeply passionate about solving problems, redefining retail, and building a thriving career, do check out our careers site, and apply to jobs matching your skills and interest.