Equal Pay for Equal Work



Constitution of India as well as ILO (International Labour Organization) are clear about human dignity and fairness in rewarding workers. In spite of all these provisions, various studies have shown that there is a gender pay gap. Women workers tend to earn less than their men counterparts in many industry sectors. The phenomenon is pronounced clearly in industries such as textile, construction, entertainment and agriculture. Women’s day celebration has become a lot more wide-spread, yet the basic principle of fair reward and human dignity continue to be global issues.

Our belief system has to be revamped first

It is easy to say that equal pay has to be implemented. However, it is not possible to apply the principle on the ground because the business owners and senior managers do not believe that women and men can produce equal output. Many a times, they do not have a clear measurement system, rather they go by their mental measures. Further, they believe that a woman is weaker than a man and has many limitations that disables her to produce an output same as a man. These deeply-seated beliefs come on the way of implementation of equal pay for equal work.

If we have to eliminate the gender pay gap, we have to change this belief and make them accept the fact that a woman can produce the same output as a man in the same role.

Demand-Supply issue

Women by their physical being, need breaks from work for maternity and baby-care. Many a times, they share a large share of the responsibilities at home such as elder care, keeping the home tidy, cooking and so on. Thus, they face challenges to balance their time and focus between work and family. Workplaces which can find viable alternatives in staffing themselves will have less demand for employing women. Given the sluggish demand for women workers, it is likely that the principle of equal pay gets compromised. Just economics!

A large part of our population is still below the poverty line in spite of several well-meaning measures taken by the Government. There is a supply of blue collar workers from these families. Sometimes, there are women who are trying hard to get back to work after a hiatus. More often than not, these women are well-qualified and have relevant experience. Still, it is not easy for them to find meaningful work. In all these cases, they are willing to settle for a pay which might be lesser than the fair pay. Again, this is just economics of short-term gains.

Many small enterprises find it expensive in the short term to provide the statutory benefits to women such as paid leaves on maternity. So, they tend to mitigate the risk of such payments by paying lesser to women. Effective social security programmes can take away this responsibility from employers and hence, make it a level playing field for employment for any gender.

Measure Work

Many employers think that women produce lesser than their men counterparts. This is male chauvinistic thinking. There are many cases where women produce higher than men. Industry sectors such as manufacturing, assembly shops, electronic and electrical products, luxury goods, consumer products, education, science which employed only men just a few decades ago have increasing number of women working there. Old norms have to change if we can quantify work and measure them. Employers must find ways of doing this. They may be surprised to find many men working there might be less productive than the women. It could be a paradigm shift in their thinking.

Pay must be a reflection of the work output delivered now and the potential delivery in future. It cannot be a reflection of one’s gender, faith, whims and fancies.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/equal-pay-for-equal-work/


Evolving Interview Strategies

ciel blog - interview strategies

Technology has been disrupting a number of things in our day to day lives including each day at work. Cloud technologies, mobility, social platforms, big data and artificial intelligence have transformed many activities in HR function of an organization, right from the way talent is attracted, and assessed to the way it is developed and retained. Behaviours and habits of employees have changed significantly over time. Hence, employer organizations are evolving their practices to adapt to these developments around us.

Let us focus on one cog in the wheel – interviews. This is one of the most commonly used tools to assess talent while recruiting for a role. Traditionally, organizations held face to face discussion with a potential hire to check if the person has the competency, attitude and interest to do the job, has adequate depth of experience and demonstrates alignment with organizational values. We know, this is a herculean task to assess all of these in an interview. Interviewers need to be experienced and competent to carry out such an assessment. Even if they are, research shows that reliability of interview as a tool of assessment is less than 35%. Yet organizations follow this as the common practice. Needless to say, with the advent of new technologies and changing norms in our society, we should introduce new methods.

Multi-Stage Assessment

Talent is a competitive advantage for any organization. It is extremely critical that an organization must choose the best and not settle for anything which is lesser. We have now access to a range of assessment tools that can reduce human bias, use analytics to increase reliability of the findings and are easy to administer.

In our current times, instantaneity is a virtue. Assessment methods which give a report immediately after the session are a great way to attract candidates to take up the challenge. IT industry and some Government programmes have started using hackathons, codefests or similar such sprint-like events which bring out the best in people working in a competitive game-like environment. However, all interviews do not have to be in a sprint-like environment. The strategy is to deploy a multi-stage process, each focusing on evaluation of a few aspects in adequate detail.

Instantaneous results and preferably a detailed feedback of the interview process are attractive to the aspirants. Considering the logistics of travel and busy schedule that each of us endure, we have to find technology to make such a multi-stage process a reality.

Leverage Technology

Video Interviews allow a candidate to take an interview at his or her convenience and Interviewers can evaluate the responses when they are free. There is no need to sync-up the schedule of both for this method of assessment which can be very efficient for screening applicants. This is very useful for recruiting junior level roles in an organization where the number of applicants for a job could be 20x of the number of open roles to fill.

Online mobile-based tests, case studies, hackathons, gamified assessment tests, analysis of simulated cases, virtual reality based interviews are new tools that are making recruitment easy to administer and test multiple parameters at the same time. Traditional methods of interviewing have to be preceded by some of these tech-based interventions. The organization will strengthen its employer brand and pick up candidates who are more likely to be successful.

Build a Roadmap and Execute

It is easy to say that technology tools and multi-stage assessment methods have to be deployed. However, it is very hard to put them into practice. Several organizations have not yet brought this onto their anvil, let alone planning and execution. It is a missed opportunity unless we bring this into action. When the leadership team is committed to the cause of boosting employer brand and making the selection process more reliable, planning can be kicked off.

The first step will be to list down the evaluation parameters, agree on a commonly agreed benchmark for evaluation and translate them into objective measures. The next step will be to design a battery of tests such that they are fit for the purpose and add value to the potential candidate as well as the employer organization. The choice of tests come next, keeping in mind the ease of administering them and the acceptance of the potential candidate. A lot of work, exciting and value-adding!


Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/evolving-interview-strategies/

Expansion of Gig Economy

ciel blog - expanding gig-workers

Companies are looking for increasing flexibility in their staffing plans as revenue cycles are subject to greater volatility. Companies are building flexible plans to acquire talent by employing contract workers, freelancers, contingent workers and so on. Recent studies have shown that 150 million people are freelancing or delivering their individual gigs in North America and Western Europe. That is a substantial number!

What drives this economy?

Many millennials and some experienced professionals are making a conscious choice to walk a new path. They want to be their own boss, break free from the routine of a work life, live life on their own terms and follow their passion the way they want to pursue. These people are legal professionals, coaches, trainers, artistes, teachers, doctors, chefs, designers, architects, marketers, secretarial and admin assistants and similar such professionals. They are experts in their own field of work, want to explore new dimensions of their expertise by taking up a variety of assignments.

Sure enough, such gig-work creates uncertainty in their incomes. Sometimes, their work schedules get erratic and they have to put up with those. However, they are happy to walk this path when they find the benefits of gig-work such as the independence, liberty and the potential to discover the unexplored are bigger than the risk of inconsistent incomes.

At the same time, as global economy is growing and developing further, we find businesses shifting their workforce blend towards temporary jobs, fixed time work and freelancers. We will surely find increasing number of people willing to be gig workers.

How can an organization use gig workers?

In India, we have just 10% of our labour pool employed in the formal sector jobs and a huge number of workers are freelancing. There is a huge gig economy here. We find millions of workers in blue collar jobs working on daily wages or freelancers. We also find an increasing number of people in a range of specialised jobs such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, IT consultants and Finance managers working on fixed time basis for companies.

While the trend is there, our organizations are yet to get their workforce strategy right. We need to have clarity on the kind of work that will be carried out by an independent contractor, how such a person will be selected, what kind of remuneration has to be paid, how to protect the company’s proprietary information and so on. Similarly their workforce strategy needs to be clear about the kind of work to outsource, kind of work to be done by outsourced employees, methods of engaging and managing such employees.

Lack of a coherent strategy will result in a bunch of ad-hoc actions which are unlikely to be cost-efficient and delivering adequate value. Moreover, it could potentially compromise the long-term sustainability of the firm. It is critical that the workforce planning is done well, appropriate processes are used and the right partners are leveraged.

How could a professional deal with the realm of gig economy?

Gig workers are valued when they bring the right combination of capability and attitude to the table. While gig-working is interesting, offbeat and fashionable for some, the charm might die out soon if one is not ready for it. Sometimes, it could be depressing due to the lack of social anchors that a full-time employee or a contract worker experiences in an organization. Gig workers have to be ready to work independently in an isolated environment.

One needs to be clear about the inner calling and its connection with a larger purpose. This is the most crucial step in taking up gig-working. Else, one should get back to doing full-time work or contractual work in a routine job.

Once the decision is made, one has to be in the right places to pursue one’s passion, build one’s portfolio and associate with like-minded people to be a part of the eco system. Since gig-working is still in its nascent stage, it is important to play an active role in the ecosystem to succeed in the gig economy.

ref: http://www.cielhr.com/expansion-of-gig-economy/


Celebrating Women as Leaders

ciel blog - Diversity

Glass ceiling for women is often talked about. It was used first in 1978 by Marilyn Loden in a panel discussion to explain how women have to overcome many challenges to rise to the top of an organization. It has been forty years and we have had many stellar women leaders not only leading organizations, local to global but also nations and transforming human lives. 23% of all national parliamentarians are women as of June 2016 as per UN Women. 70 countries in the world have had a female leader, says Pew Research Center. We have made progress; is this enough?

Huffington Post article in December 2017 shows, only 23 companies out of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 have female CEOs. Deloitte says, 12.4% of board seats in India are filled by women, not too far behind the global average which is 15%. Do these numbers indicate a satisfying development or a cause of worry?

Changing milieu points to a transformation in our homes

Nature’s creation of men and women remains unchanged. Though there is a rise of surrogacy, it is the women who have to bear children. However, if we look a bit deeper into our family structures and norms, there are changes visible all over. Economies of India and China have been growing fast. We see rapid urbanization, reducing family sizes, increasing mobility among families across cities, greater focus on education and employment. Naturally, the role of the woman in a family has undergone big changes.

Traditionally women in the family had the responsibility of child rearing, household chores, elder care, cooking, tidying the home and so on. We see these responsibilities increasingly being shared by the man and the woman in the family. Financial decisions in a family are being jointly made. Most activities which were made largely by the male members are now being discussed and the responsibilities are being shared. Voice of the woman in a family is significant now. Many women are gainfully employed and are contributing to the family’s income significantly. Girl children in most of our city-dwelling families receive equal importance as boys in all facets of life. Women have emerged clearly as leaders, often taller than the man in the family. The young girls in our cities are no less in any respect than the young boys. They claim their space in the society as much as the boys and join the workforce as an equal to the boys. This is encouraging. Where is the glass ceiling in this changing milieu?

Is woman empowerment just a fad now?

The issue is far from being over. City-dwellers in India have changed a lot, but they constitute a small percentage of the population. Moreover, there is still a big part of the city-population who is way behind the others as far as the shift in mentality is concerned. Many of these families in our cities and an overwhelming number of our families living outside the cities continue to follow the old traditions.

In many of these families, women go to work. But, the work they do is economically less rewarding than the work men do. Sometimes, they consciously decide to take up such work because they have inadequate support systems for smooth functioning of their homes. In some cases, traditional norms come to the fore where the woman has to discharge certain duties at home and hence, she chooses jobs which are less demanding on her schedules.

They tend to work at their own homes and at the same time, go out to work and contribute to their family income. In this situation, the work that women do is rarely about fulfilling their ambitions and actualising their dreams. So, we are far away from equality between men and women in this socio-economic class of our country. Naturally the girl child in these homes is less likely to craft a future which is lofty and ambitious. We never know when we are nipping a dream in its bud and disabling someone to dream. We need action here!

What can organizations do?

Companies need to accept the fact that a woman leader can do as good a job as a man. Deloitte report of 2017 tells us that gender diversity doubles when the top leader is a woman. This shows, the problem is quite deep-rooted. We have to have the mind-set of equality as far as ability of man and woman is concerned for a leadership role. Also this is about how we value diversity. This mind-set develops in a child when he or she grows up at our home and in the school. It is less likely to develop while he or she is an adult. Companies have a social responsibility to build this mind-set among children at school.

Secondly, we need to be sure why we celebrate Woman’s Day at work. If it is to celebrate diversity, and thank the women in our lives, we must celebrate this at our homes first than at the workplace. Companies can encourage their employees to celebrate diversity at their homes.

Many women drop off the journey in their careers because of commitments at home and the lack of support mechanisms. They find it difficult to get back to work when they are back on their feet again to give wings to their dreams. Companies should encourage women to restart their journey.

Last but not the least, it is important to understand that each job calls for certain skills and capabilities. We must not stereotype a job with a gender. We see, most nurses are women and most workers in a construction site are men. This does not mean that we develop a prejudice that certain jobs cannot be performed by a certain gender. Rather we should say, every person has a unique ability which will flourish in the right work and environment. This is a critical conversation that the leaders in a company must have.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/celebrating-women-leaders/

Care about Candidate Experience?

ciel blog - candidate experience

Organizations focus on customer experience and the moment of truth. They invest substantially to deliver superior experience to a customer – prospective as well as existing. It is the employees of the organization who make the difference right from the stage of design to delivery of the product or the service. Attracting the right-fit employees is the first challenge and then, keeping them motivated for a long time is the next challenge. That brings us to the topic of Employer Brand. The stronger this brand is, the easier and economical it is, to attract and retain talent. Like reputation and credibility, employer brand takes time to build. Top leaders of the organization wrestle with all long-term issues and hence, this is one such topic that ought to find time in the Board room. Today, it is yet to find a place on the table because not enough has been done to measure the lost opportunity and the hidden treasure.

Are we attracting the best?

Place an advertisement for an open job and check the response. In most parts of India across sectors, we find many applications. But, are they the best that we can get? More often than not, the best talent doesn’t come forward to apply for a job unless you or the hiring manager is a talent magnet.

Organizations have hiring plans and they have to fill the vacant roles within a certain period of time. The recruiters within the company and the agency partners muster all energies to get people on board. The question remains if we are getting the best. Is the hiring engine well-tuned to pick the best?

One of the recent works of research, CIELWorks 2018 shows that employer brand is the 2nd most important challenge before the recruiters while attracting talent. Given the growth of an economy, talent is the competitive advantage that can potentially differentiate the performance of an organization from another. So, the best efforts must be done to attract the best!

Do your top employees receive many headhunting calls? Do you find a very few people in your industry to be better than your employees? Do your customers offer great reviews about your employees? If it’s YES all the way, you are doing well!

Devil lies in the details

Like we are concerned about the moments of truth with our customers, we need to be thinking of the moments of truth with the candidates. Their journey starts right from the time someone speaks or emails them about an opportunity. The candidate does some background work before he or she decides to pursue the opportunity. If it is a top talent, one is likely to deep-dive to understand more about the opportunity. The information about our organization, our top leaders, our plans, our ex-employees, vendors, clients and current employees are all available on the internet. The conversations that we are having with the others and vice versa leave behind trails which are moments of truth for a potential hire. Do we know if they are reflective of who we are? If not, do we do anything about it?

Does the hiring manager take the interest to brief the recruiters who are going to look for candidates? If the recruiters are going to the talent market with a generic job description, we cannot attract the best. Neither can we provide a realistic idea of who we are, what the job is and how the career is likely to shape. Job description document is something created by the HR team sometime in the past to comply with some requirements. That doesn’t describe fully what the line manager is looking for. Most organizations make the mistake of sending out a sample job description to many recruiting agencies. As a result, recruiters play the game of ‘fastest finger first‘ to churn out a few candidates. Naturally, candidates get half-baked or incomplete information about the opportunity. The best-fit might decline it and the organization makes a compromise hire!

Similarly, the way a candidate is received, interacted with, communicated and engaged are all moments of truth. They determine what he or she is going to speak about us in his or her circle. Given the power of social media, the experience gets amplified fast.

These minor details determine the quality of candidates we attract not only today but also in the future. Do we really care about these details of how a vacancy in our organization gets communicated and a candidate is engaged with?

Drive it right from the very top

Perception about an organization’s culture, norms and future prospects sum up its employer brand. It takes time to build. Hence, one needs a long-term approach to define what this employer brand is and what actions must be taken to realize its full potential.

While talking about employer branding, often experts talk about technology and standardised methods such as Application Tracking System, Website, Social Media presence, asynchronous video interviews, rewards for internal referral, Apps to engage with candidates and training recruiters. While these are useful and need to be done, the main hurdle to overcome is to treat this subject as a long-term strategic agenda and paying attention to it as much a strategic topic deserves.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/care-candidate-experience/


Showing Emotions at work

ciel blog - emotions at work

Workplaces are microcosms of our society. Humans work there and they are not machines. It is natural that we will bring our emotions while working. It is unfair to expect that employees will bring with them the positive emotions such as love, happiness, high spirits, respectfulness, patience, pride, modesty and so on. Similarly, it is not realistic to expect that employees will leave behind the negative emotions such as anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, anxiety, fear and many such. As a student in school or college, we learn about the norms in the society and a workplace. Should we show emotions or not? If we show them, what are the do’s and don’ts?

Acceptance of self and everything around

Organizations study employee satisfaction and tend to do a few things to win over the hearts of their employees. There are various theories explaining the factors to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. One of these theories attracts me – help the employee to be successful; we will see a direct impact on employee satisfaction and company’s financials. If we go by this theory, we have to focus on helping each employee find success.

The first and foremost thing to success is to accept the person with all his strengths and limitations. Often we do not accept our environment in its totality. We have strong likes and dislikes about various aspects of our environment; we rue over the shortcomings. Most often, our remorse takes us nowhere. Moreover, we hold ourselves in a surreal way rather than accepting our own self as a mosaic of positives and negatives.

The root causes behind fear, insecurities, hatred, anger and so on lie in lack of acceptance. Once we sort this out in our mind, life becomes easy, stress-free and enjoyable. The paradigm changes from ‘what I do not have’ to ‘what I have’.

Organizations and leaders must invest their energies on building the culture of acceptance of each other and acceptance of factors beyond one’s control. This makes the ride smooth and joyful because people look at the bright side of things and are motivated to make the most out of a given situation. The people who are uncomfortable with the environment of acceptance will leave for good. Such an environment of acceptance takes away fear and various such insecurities; thus, people show positive emotions such as ambitiousness, drive, joy and concern for others. These emotions are welcome at work!

There is a bad day. Recognize it!

All of us do have a bad day. Things do not go right. Client is not happy with our work, a colleague falls sick and a pile of his work has landed on your desk, people need you at home urgently to attend to something serious, your boss is in a bad mood and gets angry with you seeking permission to leave early, your car breaks down, you lose your mobile phone and wallet somewhere.

People will advise you to calm down, take a few deep breaths, pray God, be objective, not be judgemental, not blame it on stars of the day, not to be reactive and so on.

It’s okay to tell people that you are having a bad day and seek their understanding. It doesn’t make sense to fake a smile, put up a brave face and prove to the others that you are a strong human. It doesn’t help anyone; rather it wears us down and builds a lot of tension and stress which are completely avoidable!

Adapt and Communicate

Every place has its own norm and it changes over a period of time. The way our parliamentarians behave inside the parliament these days is very different from the way they did 3-4 decades ago. The norms of expressing oneself have been changing. Hence, it is important that we learn the norms fast and follow them.

Communicating one’s feelings, positive or negative, in an appropriate manner lightens the burden and sets one free to do one’s routine. It is a good idea to confide in someone trustworthy if you are not sure how to deal with the emotions running through the body and mind.

Finally, there is no reason why you should torture yourself bearing the burden of pent-up feelings and hurt. In spite of one’s best attempts, if you are unable to let them go and keep your sight on a better and brighter tomorrow, there is no point bearing the pain. Be authentic and move on!

ref: http://www.cielhr.com/showing-emotions-at-work/

Hire Smart

ciel blog - hire smart

In our world of smart phones, high speed computing and intense communication, everything has to happen fast. Enterprises are often not happy with the pace of execution internally as well as with their external stakeholders. They hate to see positions lying vacant because of the fear of missing opportunities in the market.

Line managers are busy to describe what they need and the HR managers have no time to sit down with the line manager and agree on the requirements. At the same time, candidates look around for possible choices when they decide to apply for a job opportunity. They are not sure what kind of a role and employer they should be searching for. So, there is a lack of planning at both the ends and hence, hiring is damn difficult. How can an organization be smart in dealing with these complexities?

Do not waste time with CVs!

Marquee employers have researched extensively to understand what kind of talent fits them the best. They have tried to perfect their recruitment process by comparing the prediction of a recruitment process with actual performance of the new joiner in 6-12 months’ time. All these studies haven’t yet yielded a formula that is universal.

Normally, companies use a pre-written job description document to kick-off the hiring. Recruiters typically pick a few keywords from the document and dig into several databases to find a few CVs that have a high occurrence of these keywords. They speak to these folks about the job and push them to attend a job interview. Many candidates are open to check their market value and have hardly anything to loose; so, they agree to attend the interview without giving it a good thought. Interviewers normally review 20 CVs and interview 5 candidates before they choose one. Does the process have to start with a CV?

These days, CVs are not a good indication of what the candidate brings to the table. There are several resources which help a candidate produce a CV that matches the job requirement well. Secondly, interview as a tool is not highly reliable and hence, an applicant who answers well in an interview is not necessarily going to be a successful employee.

Can we define the business challenge the role has to deal with and the outcome expected? Based on these, can the recruiter develop a job description for the role, interview the candidate accordingly and provide a few paragraphs about the applicant justifying why you should interview him?

We do not need CVs. Let us conserve the time which is normally used to read up CVs of applicants. Rather, ask your Recruiter to give you a note of recommendation for the candidate. This note will be a good overview of the candidate and at the same time, triggers thoughts for the interview.

Go beyond the obvious!

We know there is no perfect-fit in this world. We have to always settle with a close-fit or the best-fit. All line managers do not like to believe this. They keep interviewing candidates with the hope of discovering the jackpot. It becomes an endless loop!

Sometimes, interviewers go along predicted lines of matching qualifications and past experiences of the candidate with their mental picture of an ideal candidate. One can manage the impressions of the interviewer in such a context because the desired responses are well-known.

One has to go beyond the obvious and deep-dive into the realms of behaviours, beliefs and attitudes of a candidate. Interviewers must be trained to ask open-ended questions, follow-up conversations, hold the discussion in an unbiased manner, rate the fitment as per pre-agreed rating scale and write a good summary of the findings. This is easier said than done. Organizations with mature HR processes invest on these infrastructure. Ideally, each interview must focus on specific aspects and explore deeply on just two to three aspects.

More than one conversations are essential

Google follows a Rule of Four where 4 experienced Googlers interview a job applicant and the total of their scores forms the base of hiring decision. There are similar such practices in other organizations as well. The idea here is to look at the fitment from a diverse perspective.

Candidates prefer a quick conclusion to their application process. Enterprises want quick closure of their open positions. Yet several challenges leave both the employer organization and candidates frustrated with the long cycle times.

One of the ways to deal with this dichotomy is to schedule multiple discussions back to back at one go. This helps candidates and the employer organization to assess one another holistically for a potential fitment. Moreover, the interviewers or assessors get an opportunity to compare between the candidates and firm up their mind.

Senior leaders play an important role in making the hiring process smart. Their commitment to make the process stable, reliable and robust is the first step. Else, the war for the best talent remains as a rhetoric and doesn’t reflect on the ground.

Ref: http://www.cielhr.com/hire-smart/