[B-SIDE Podcast] Compassion in the workplace

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Creating a compassionate workplace starts at the top. In this B-Side episode, Vidya Srinivasan, vice president for Procter and Gamble’s Manila Global Business Services and Global External Reporting, explains to BusinessWorld reporter Patricia B. Mirasol how the multinational corporation embraces diversity and inclusion.

TAKEAWAYS

Leadership sets the tone.

It’s the leadership that determines how compassionate and empathetic a workplace is.

“The leadership sets the tone… The tone at the top will tremendously help push programs,” said Ms. Srinivasan.

To foster an inclusive and supportive atmosphere, P&G has affinity networks – which connect employees based on similar interests or diversity aspects – such as GABLE (which stands for Gay, Ally, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender Employees).

Its “Share the Care” policy, meanwhile, grants new parents at least eight weeks of fully paid leave (compared to the seven days of paternal leave mandated in the Philippines).

These efforts would be difficult to implement without the support of P & G’s top brass.

Mentors pave the way for future leaders.

To grow, employees should seek out mentors as Ms. Srinivasan did. Mentorship need not have a formal structure, she added.

“You can tap someone’s shoulder and ask, ‘Can you be my mentor?’ Informal networking also helps a lot. ”

Compassion is quantifiable through feedback.

To gauge if its programs and policies are working, P&G conducts annual surveys.

“Feedback… defines the action plan,” said Ms. Srinivasan.

These surveys helped P&G “walk the talk” in closing the gender ratio gap which led to P&G being named Champion for the Gender Inclusive Workplace category in the 2021 UNWEP (United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles) Awards. The organization has a gender ratio of 53% female and 47% male. In the senior management levels, the numbers are 54% female, 46% male.

Work-life balance solutions have to be flexible.

The aforementioned “Share the Care” policy also allows for flexibility: a parent chooses how to spend those eight weeks of parental leave – whether in a single go, or spread out – depending on their situation.

“[Flexibility] empowers our employees to be in the driver’s seat and drive balance in their lives, ”said Ms. Srinivasan.

Situational mentoring sessions also acknowledge that each employee is unique.

To address traditional biases, include men in the conversation.

“You can not have this journey with only half the people,” Ms. Srinivasan pointed out.

P&G was able to turn their male employees into allies by facilitating workshop sessions, which turned into dialogues, and, eventually, action plans.

“There were many a-ha moments, as everyone started seeing from a different set of eyes,” Ms. Srinivasan said. “Acknowledgment is the first step.”

Recorded remotely in March 2022. Produced by Earl R. Lagundino and Sam L. Marcelo.

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