When asked what diversity means to her, Yamini says, “Way back in 2009, diversity in an organisation meant having more women employees. But I had a different perspective altogether about the concept. For me, it wasn’t just about us women being symbolic means to an end. Cut to 2018, when I joined Swiggy I kept this in mind and introduced the Diversity & Inclusivity Charter.”
As enthused as she was about expanding the definition of Diversity & Inclusivity at the workplace, this was not an overnight job for Yamini and her team. She was determined that Swiggy could lead and show others the way, by setting an example to other organisations about what diversity really means. She set out by first elucidating what the term would entail for Swiggy. Since diversity can be a broad program with multiple facets under it, Yamini wanted to start small. And that’s how she started working on one particularly important piece for all employees – parenthood.
“We were just really trying to figure out who all could potentially be considered as parents. We wanted to keep women as an important part, as they are the birth givers and primary caregivers, but we wanted to give attention to non-biological parents and to the secondary caregivers as well”, says Yamini
This is where it gets slightly complex. How do you define a secondary caregiver and defy the conventional norms? Do you restrict your parenthood policy to a particular group or do you keep it as open and inclusive as possible?
“We wanted to answer this question keeping the overall theme of diversity in mind. And that’s when we decided to go beyond the norm and include LGBTQ+, single and adoptive parents as well.”
They also had to chalk out the nitty-gritties of the policy and spared no detail; like different kinds of pregnancies, especially for same-sex couples or single parents as there are many ways one can bring a child into their lives: adoption, assisted reproduction and surrogacy.
“Keeping all these different aspects in mind, we introduced the all-inclusive, gender-neutral childcare and parenthood policy”, says Yamini.
So, what does the policy finally look like? At Swiggy, we believe one of the most important moments in anyone’s life is when they have a child. Parenthood is a journey that requires a lot of time and care, and we endeavor to support our employees through every step of the journey. The policy is designed keeping this in mind, with support at every stage of parenthood – right from the deciding to be a parent to on-going childcare.
We’ve taken steps to ensure the policy is respectful of everyone who is an active part of the birth-giving and child-rearing experience, from expecting mothers to their partners. The policy redefines a primary caregiver as: Biological, commissioning or adoptive mother, a single parent or LGBTQ+ parent.
Under this policy, the primary caregiver can avail 26 weeks of paid leave. Secondary caregivers can avail of a paid leave of a period ranging from one week to 15 days to support their partners.
While at work, mothers at Swiggy are given transportation and wellness coupons to help them have a stress-free post-pregnancy period. Apart from offering these benefits, the policy also includes facilities such as providing ergonomic chairs and reserving close-to-entrance parking spots for mothers who are back from their maternity leave.
Swiggy also endeavors to support its employees through some of the challenges that come with parenthood, such as miscarriages or medical termination of pregnancy by offering them and their partners extended leaves.
Yamini is also a mother herself and the experience was formative in her crafting the policy as well. “Swiggy acknowledged me as a working mother and a leader, and that in itself made me feel good. I was empowered to choose a flexible time that works for me because I travel a long distance and have to make it back to my family in time. It’s these little things that make Swiggy such a welcoming place for me.”
Diversity across the value chain
Being in a leadership role, Yamini is cognizant of what she represents for everyone in her team, especially women. “One way to build and encourage a diverse culture is through mentorship. When women feel empowered at their workplace and when they are given insights into their performance, it removes any fear of bias and levels the playing field.
“As we identify more gaps, we can expand the inclusivity agenda to everyone in the value chain, and that’s what I am currently striving to do. And like I said earlier, diversity is not just about women, we encourage more men to step up, discuss concerns and be more open so Swiggy, as a company, can be so much more humane in its inclusivity agenda.”
Yamini has already made waves in her path-breaking journey to disrupt the definition of diversity – and clearly, there’s no stopping her!
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