[TechSparks2020] Ritu Anand speaks on empathy, humility, passion, gratitude as fabrics of diversity of the mind

On Day 2 of TechSparks 2020, Ritu Anand, Chief Diversity Officer of Tata Consultancy Services spoke on building a diverse and inclusive workplace, embracing mental health, and achieving equity.

The need for diversity and inclusivity at the workplace has gained momentum over the years. Ritu Anand, Chief Diversity Officer of Tata Consultancy Services believes that although it has been part of the agenda for at least two decades, diversity still remains an ignored concept. 

Ritu, A PhD scholar in psychology with three decades of corporate experience both in the US and India shed light on what really constitutes diversity in a fireside chat with YourStory Founder and CEO, Shradha Sharma.

At the 11th edition of YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2020, she spoke on mental health, promoting equity over equality at workplace, and – like the true leader she is – being open to learn from mistakes.

Diversity of the mind

Ritu said diversity as a value will be sustainable at organisations only when there is diversity of the mind, which entails behaviours like empathy, humility, passion, energy, gratitude, what she calls “petals”.

Reiterating this, she said, “These should be the day-to-day languages and when we create learnings and experiences around these petals, it resonates with men and women and becomes the DNA of the company that stays and grows.”

These are the defining codes to deconstruct “diversity” to make it mainstream and inclusion will naturally emerge.

She added that considering diversity of thought and perspective as one that comes from heterogenous minds will lead to a sustainable culture. 

As Chief Diversity Officer and as a psychologist, Ritu looks at people from their perspective and not bracket them into different roles. When this is practised by companies with many employees, she said the message and sustainability will run deep. 

Ritu also shared what she calls the “PILL” solution that expands to Positive partnership, Intentional inclusion - where one must be conscious of the bias – and lasting leadership.

Recognising that the workplace cannot be at dialogue stage all the time, she spoke about a solution-driven discussion implemented at her own organisation, TCS.

“My team does say, “the problem is…” rather, “we have a situation of safety for women in the night shift so we have done..." and that has become our language now. When situations and solutions marry, the result is success,” she said. 

In this light, she added that the much debated topic of gender pay disparity is not a concern at TCS because it is an issue of integrity that is in practice for all including men, women, LGBTQ+ people, and the differently-abled. 

#Metoo and the workplace

Ritu Anand, Chief Diversity Officer of TCS in a virtual fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory during TechSparks 2020

Ritu said that even before #metoo movement gained momentum and POSH was introduced, workplaces had platforms to address sexual harassment grievances.

However, she believes that the movement brought to the fore, conversations on inclusion. On this front, Ritu has initiated several programmes such as Allies of Diversity, that aims to sensitise clients to become allies.

“I am at the centre stage with customers to talk about inclusion at workplace, cultural inclusion, ethnic inclusion, and gender inclusion,” she added.

Ritu said technology is levelling the space for women, LGBTQIA+, and the differently-abled like never before. At present, she is focussed on driving communication forward on identifying employees based on their competencies and abilities.

Championing equity, mental health, and more

Speaking on hiring at one of the largest IT services company in the world, Ritu said TCS is striving for

equity over equality. Starting with Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and Managing Director of TCS, more than

50,000 employees have taken the pledge towards equity.

"Imagine I am a 6-footer standing on the ground creating a stool for a 3-footer to stand on,” she told the audience, connected virtually. 

Explaining the concept, she said, “I am not ignoring her but bringing her on par. That kind of fairness is being embedded into all processes, including recruitment.”

Mental health, she said, is like a drop in the pond, which disturbs the mind because something is precipitated.

The workplace must embrace and be inclusive because the reality is that some people are more predisposed to certain situations while others are not. “They should feel they have a safe place. We have many programmes as messaging tools for our employees who have mental health issues – to convey that they can have roles that play to their strengths.”

For more information on TechSparks 2020, check out our TechSparks 2020 website. Sign up here to join the event.  

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.  

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan


Updates from around the world