Hinduja Global Solutions espouses woman power with ‘Agrima’

Working from the grassroots up to the middle management level, Agrima is a self-nominated training program focused on building a more holistic sense of self awareness and self-esteem. As businesses across the globe take an active interest in diversity and inclusion agendas, organisations are looking at various ways to encourage and empower their women employees. Recruiters are also keen to get more women into the workplace, realising the significant difference their contribution makes, not only in terms of better business sense but also towards improving the overall working environment. Avesh Kumar Jha, senior vice-president, organizational development and performance management, Hinduja Global Solutions, says, “In addition to bringing in diversity of thoughts, behaviours and actions, having more women in the workplace brings in more empathy, which is extremely crucial for a business to be able to serve its clients well.”  Jha adds that since there is already a huge gap in the talent demand and supply in the country, by discriminating on the basis of gender during hiring, a company may curtail its own talent pool. With this belief, Hinduja Global Solutions focusses strongly on women empowerment at the workplace. The company also believes that this constituent can play a big role in growing the business the right way.  While it has created various policies to help build an environment of inclusivity – such as flexi-work policy and sabbatical leave policy, it has also devised a focused learning programme for women empowerment. This exclusive personality and skill development program is called ‘Agrima’ – which means the leader, the captain or someone who is always on the forefront and advanced. Working from the grassroots up to the middle management level, Agrima is a self-nominated training program focused on building a more holistic sense of self awareness and self-esteem among participants through the use of various learning mechanisms, and enabling employees to engage confidently with clients, customers and co-workers. It was launched on March 8, 2013 on International Women’s Day across India. In order to support women, Hinduja Global Solutions needed to create a strong eco-system -- and that meant having an integrated framework of infrastructure, technology, policies and people. Jha shares that although the first three can be accomplished easily, the fourth pillar – people – is about mindsets and changing that is a bigger challenge. “We felt that a lot of our women employees needed to believe in themselves, in their capabilities to take up much larger roles and responsibilities,” he adds. The program was designed with two purposes in mind – to correct the attitude and make woman employees aware and more confident about their potentials; and to provide them the required capabilities for the same. Sharing the most unique aspect about this initiative, Jha says, “It is completely self-nominated and not mandatory at all. Hence, it allows women to choose their career growth paths and be able to prepare for leadership roles.” The program offers eight training modules that help women achieve their true potentials. They are: 1.    Creating lasting impressions 2.    Business orientation 3.    Influencing skills 4.    Managing self 5.    The art of collaboration 6.    Decision making 7.    Being change agile 8.    Career planning At the end of the program, the participants share their experiences in a graduation ceremony, where they are also awarded Agrima completion certificates. More than 1,000 women employees have undergone Agrima (across five batches) so far and more than 85 participants have moved into elevated and expanded roles.  Jha shares that although initially they had to make efforts to create awareness around the importance and benefits of the initiative, soon after the first batch, the program gained its own pull. He adds that the batches are facilitated by the executive committee members, senior leaders including Jha himself and even pass-outs from the Agrima program. The initiative has not only helped women grow professionally but has also brought significant changes in their overall confidence levels and their perspectives towards life and work. One of the participants, Ragasudha Rajendran, shares, “Before attending Agrima, I had a sense of fear to express my views and opinion, even if it was in my area of expertise. Agrima has injected a sense of confidence in me, such that I don’t hesitate to share my thoughts freely. I am not a submissive person anymore and the credit for that goes to Agrima. I recently got promoted as deputy manager.” No denying, it helps employees to adapt to challenges and build their competencies, enabling them to take up larger roles and to enhance their capabilities to handle any kind of crisis. Another unique feature of this program is that it has drawn young women from low middle class families, from across Tier II and Tier III cities such as Siliguri, Mysore and Durgapur, helping change their lives both at home and workplace. Currently, the initiative is completely instructor-led and follows a 10:20:70 training model. However, the organisation is now looking at a blended learning approach. Jha says, “We are planning to convert some of our courses into e-learning compatible content which would make the course quicker and easier to access, thereby enhancing the learning quotient.” The enhanced or the digitised version of Agrima should be up and rolling in the next few months.