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Diverse Staff, Diverse Ideas

Shubhra Rishi | Jan. 21, 2013
When businesses battle intense competition, they turn to their employees to spin up innovative products. Creating a culture of attracting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds propagates new and unique ideas. How Anuraag Maini, Executive VP-HR & Training, DLF Pramerica Life Insurance (DLFP), is doing just that.

When businesses battle intense competition, they turn to their employees to spin up innovative products. Creating a culture of attracting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds propagates new and unique ideas. How Anuraag Maini, Executive VP-HR & Training, DLF Pramerica Life Insurance (DLFP), is doing just that.

CIO: DLF Pramerica was formed in 2008 when there was a huge economic slowdown. What recruitment challenges did you face?

Anuraag Maini: In 2008, we were probably the 23rd insurance company in India. The first immediate challenge was to be able to attract people to an unlicensed company. We were clearly unknown and had to begin from what we aspired to build in a new organization. We had to setup basic systems and processes and create a balance between the immediate short-term goals--for instance, deploying a payroll for the start-up--and long-term goals such as competencies and values. Managing that is clearly a challenge for any startup.

Building strong ethics and work culture was another challenge. It took us some time to create our own work culture in order to manage employees with different belief systems and tactics while responding to business demands.

We started with about 130 employees. Today, we are a little over 2,000 employees. Five years down the line, people in the industry know us, and our ability to attract talent is much better right now as compared to what it was then. So from an HR point of view, attracting talent was our biggest challenge.

What's changed since then?

Our strategy around talent acquisition has transformed significantly. As a startup in 2008, 85 percent of our talent pool used to come from the insurance sector. In the last couple of years, we have been looking at identifying, attracting, and hiring a diverse talent pool. The more people are from diverse industries, the more diverse are the ideas and proposals.

Currently, about 35 percent of our salesforce comes from diverse industries and backgrounds. It was much lesser earlier but it's only going to rise to 50 percent in the future. Another focused approach has been towards hiring female employees. For instance, we have 16.5 percent of female employees in our company as compared to 10 percent two years back.

As the HR-head of DLF Pramerica, how have you spearheaded this change?

To give you a perspective, only 20 percent of my HR team has an insurance background, the rest consists of a diverse pool of people from different industries. This has improved our ability to deal with insurance challenges and understand business better.

In 2010-11, we conducted a study and found that the average productivity of women sales employees was about 40 percent higher than men. We also found that they stayed longer in a company and therefore, the attrition rate was low. We created a business case and presented it to our CEO. There's been a strong initiative towards diversity inclusions. It has started with gender first and now we are slowly moving towards other forms of diversity.

 

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