CONSULTANT ARTICLES - Venkat Rao V, Managing Partner

Key Responsibilities and Skill Set Needed For Chief Diversity Officer | 29th Jan, 2019
Key Responsibilities And Skill Set Needed For Chief Diversity Officer
Chief Diversity Officer strategizes diversity and inclusion in the organization and ensures smooth internal functioning

Diversity and Inclusion has become integral for organizations, especially the industry leaders and Unicorns. The recent developments in the C-Suite of companies have created a position for Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), one who strategizes diversity and inclusion in the organization and ensures smooth internal functioning, further guiding administration and Human Resource Management. Some of the major qualities that a CDO must inherit are:

Ability to Manage Challenges and Diverse environment

You should have thorough understanding of the pain areas of diversity and minority people and the causes for this effect. The why-why analysis to be conducted and the root cause to be identified to take an effective solution to the problem. Foreseeing challenges and problems well in advance and solution mindset is much needed.

Trends and learnability

You should be thoroughly updated on the trends and mindset of the people to provide meaningful solutions. The person has to be well networked in the industry and able to set the bench marks. You should be a great listener with High EQ and learnability which is a critical success factor for a Diversity Officer

Un biased judgement

At times people show bias consciously and unconsciously which will widen the gap of inequality and this is being implemented across the organizations as a smart move to retain and attract talent.

Visionary and Entrepreneurial mindset & Achievement orientation

A visionary has the ability to see what others cannot see.The CDO should have the Vision of looking at the big picture. Having an Entrepreneurial mindset gives them the ability to aim big, take calculative risk and drive towards the goal in an efficient manner.

Self-principled and disciplined, Walk the talk

You should be high on ethics, Value driven, disciplined, and principled, being empathetic and walk the talk. Putting herself /oneself in to other person shoes would create an environment which will enable individuals for a dialogue with an open mind

Culture building

The CDO has to build a culture which is inspiring and creating many role models across the organization. Organizational efforts will need to focus beyond just the numbers. Today’s diversity is not the race and gender and it should create an environment where different voices are encouraged, heard and their opinions are valued and considered. The culture has to be in such way that it encourages global talent. The Global talent brings versatile backgrounds, personalities and thinking styles

Cultivate Equality at Work

The role of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) is to create an environment where everyone is challenged enough to take the best out and work closely with all the stake holders in the organization and communities. Equality at work will enable the organization to improve bottom-line and sustainable and also has a positive impact on society. Better diversity means better performance at work and it has proved that if there are many women leaders at tope has proved very effective for an organization


Sense of belonging is needed is to bring inclusiveness in the organization. Inclusion doesn’t come by mere achieving the gender ratios but by changing the mindset of people. Including minorities at decision making level and promoting them to the executive levels is much needed. Diversity and inclusion should not be treated as one off the initiative. Inclusive culture makes people respected and valued in team or group. When people are valued they put their best effort and live up to their potential.


Training provides a platform to enable people to unleash their true potential and reminds them of dos and don’ts as a professional and individual. Some of the Global universities offer cultural diversity management programmes, these trainings offer people, the competencies needed and will to succeed. It will take people move to the next performance level


You should empower people and respect them for their nationality, religion, ethnic, education, sexual orientation, disability, personality and gender etc.


Ability to Manage Challenges and Diverse environment

“Diversity and inclusion should not only be a phrase on a piece of paper, It’s a mindset and should be lived actively every day”

Full Coverage:Key Responsibilities and Skill Set Needed For Chief Diversity Officer

9 things employees look for in a job which you can use to hire top talent |18th Dec, 2018
Every job is not made for every employee. Everyone looks for certain criteria when looking for a job and if employers realise what these factors are, they will be able to hire the right talent for their company without spending too much.

When the needs of an employer and employee align, it makes for a fun and productive workplace where employees are motivated and grow fast.

Here is what young employees look for when joining a new workplace which you can use while hiring without paying top dollar:

1. Culture and empowerment

To provide an excellent work environment, culture and values, great career opportunities and flexi working hours, the culture of the organization has to be a strong selling point over money and convenience of being able to work from home may be appealing to those looking to spend less time commuting.

The organization has to be a great place to work and trust in leadership is very important. The millennials look for empowerment, freedom and beyond all, respect for individuals. As we all spend one-third of our time at work, if there are no challenges and monotonous work, people will move on in no time.

2. Alignment of employee values with company values

Don't look for talent only within the industry and or only their past track record, which would be expensive.

If a candidate has the right skill set and potential to grow, go for them if you clearly see their values align with your organization's values.

3. Total rewards

When the organization has a generous promotion policy, international postings and supports higher studies, it is highly beneficial to the organization in the long run.

Many organisations today offer 3 to 5-year compensation when they hire talent which makes the employee comfortable as he/she knows where they would be at the end of the term.

For a startup, offering stock options and long-term incentive or retention pay is also a good carrot to build wealth over a period of time. Some startups do give stock options for all their employees rather than only for key employees.

4. Cross-functional exposure

Providing cross-functional experience by job rotation is very critical to prepare better leaders for tomorrow as the disruptions and challenges are multifold in today's competitive world.

Identify high-potential talent, and groom and nurture them over a period of time. Grooming leaders within the organisation is always less expensive than hiring outside talent.

5. Client/customer management

When they get a chance to interact with a customer/client, it makes an employee take up ownership, and be accountable and responsible. This would come when the boss delegates the work.

6. Motivation

There is an old saying that says you should praise your employee in public or large gatherings and push them when they are alone in case they fail to deliver.

Motivation plays a vital role in taking the best from an individual. Ask your employees to take risks and allow them to fail.

7. Coaching/mentoring

Having a personal coach is the order of the day as we all have strengths and weakness. Coaches help you to manage time, emotions, empathy, peer pressure and stress.

Knowing your weakness is important more than knowing your strength which would minimize the flaws.

8. Career break returns

Opportunities are plenty for both men and women with a high disposable income, and now, workplaces offer women maternity leaves.

Large corporates in India do have special programmes or drives to attract employees returning from a career break as this talent is less expensive and experienced.

9. Consultant positions

When you can't pay top salaries, organisations even encourage some of their selected employees to come onboard as consultants on full-time or part-time basis.

Full Coverage:9 things employees look for in a job which you can use to hire top talent

7 Things One Should Know Before Joining A Startup| 30th Oct., 2018
Working for a startup can be an exciting, inspiring experience, allowing you to get into the real business world and enhance your learning on the ground floor of what could be the next big thing.

With small businesses responsible for nearly half of all private-sector employment, it is inevitable that a startup will eventually be part of your interview process. The startup India and digital India programs soaring high in the Indian economy explains the growth of entrepreneurs as well as the making of a skilled workforce. Working for a startup can be an exciting, inspiring experience, allowing you to get into the real business world and enhance your learning on the ground floor of what could be the next big thing.

USP/Value Proposition

The individual should look at the products or service offerings of the firm and its unique service proposition. The candidate should also consider the kind of value that the company can add to their customers. The candidates are also advised to check whether the offering can solve any of the burning issue/ current challenges in the market. The offering must bring innovation and provide superior technological benefits. The service or product offered by the company should also satisfy value for money and should be reliable for the targeted clientele. In short, the USPs of a Startup should be completely satisfactory for their discerning customers and should look at the challenges from a different angle. Today is the time to sail against the winds and startups must find innovative approaches to address the needs of their clients. There is no sense of working for a startup where the candidate cannot challenge his own capabilities and utilize His true potential to the fullest.

Promoter credentials, their Track record, Management Team, and Investors

The track record and credentials of the promoter and Management team should be carefully evaluated. An entrepreneur with leadership skills is the quintessential part of a startup, and the complete management team with all the qualities of a perfect leadership is also important. This is one of the key parameters to take a decision whether it is worthwhile joining the firm. Understanding the fundraising strategies and the background of the investors is very important otherwise this may have an impact on the scalability of the offering in the long run. When the investors are global, they would certainly bring a variety of experience and expertise to the startup. Right from a small startup to a grown organization, promoters’ credentials and successful track record of the management team should be considered important while joining the company. It is said that the foundation must be strong to build a better organization. Therefore before taking the decision of entering any of the startups the potential candidate must check the complete hierarchy of the management and their background.

The addressable market for the product or service, and Potential to grow

“The market size” or “the potential for the offering”, plays a major role for the startup. Scalability of the product or service is critical to take a decision whether the firm can sustain the short term and long term headwinds in the industry or market. Innovation is the key in the market; hence every product or service that enters the market should address the existing issues or should provide the needful services. In case if a Startup fails in the field of innovation and R&D, candidates should stay away from such organizations rather than making a hasty decision. One needs to evaluate whether the offering is a copycat or new innovation which is first of its kind in the market, as it means a lot if the organization is a leader or follower in the industry. To understand, if the offering has high entry barriers and intensive investments, the survival of the firm can be very high compared to a low entry barrier business.


Your passion towards the Products or the Services offering of the company is the real decision point that you will stay with your organization for long or part your ways sooner than decided. Right from the invention of the bulb to the airplane, it was the passion that drove the entrepreneur or the leader and their workforce to achieve their goal. With the evolution of Technology and Science, there have developed uncountable avenues of work field where a people can show their true potential driven by their passion. Passion has always been a key factor to succeed in anything that we do, in that way the individual should have a clear understanding and interest in the products or services offering of the firm. As the wise have said be with people who are equally passionate as you and follow the leaders who can motivate you to become even more passionate and dedicated to your work.

Societal impact, Macro or Micro Economic environment and Political Scenario

As we see today the offerings which have a high societal impact will last long with the customers. With the development of society and economy, people are having higher disposable income than before, and the requirements in daily life have also increased. The services or products which can be part of daily essentiality of people have the maximum probability to grow and flourish. The startup firms would get a major boost from the policymakers and the governments where the offering has a high impact on the society. This is advisable that one should target his career in industrial vertical which has a greater consumer base because that ensures the stability and future growth of the organization.

Work Culture, Ethos and Values of promoter team

Work culture, ethos & values, the way it deals with stakeholders of the organization matters a lot when it comes to a promoter-driven company. It is important to understand and gauge the clear intentions of the promoters whether they are here to stay long term or to create value and sell the firm on reaching a certain mass. This can be drawn from the teams and people closely work with the promoter team and infer some of the data points from the discussions. Empowerment, Freedom to take decisions and allowing employees to take risks are a good sign of promoter’s intentions of building a highly capable team and an organization.

One needs to look at the startup as a platform that provides an opportunity to create wealth, long-term equity and profit sharing or not just as another employment. The individual needs to think thoroughly whether it’s really worth jumping into a startup which has a toll on work-life balance and financial stress. As the millennials have the tendency to look for an accelerated growth, startup companies can pave a way for a fast track career growth.

Financial risk

On the risk side, as there is always an uncertainty of the market growth one should prepare themselves to face certain financial risk when stepping into a start-up. Although Domestic and international banks extending their services to Financially help the startups and even the grown organizations have made it simpler for the new Ventures to enter the market, yet the potential financial risk of failure of the startup model or underperformance of the services/ products can hamper the startups in long run. The evolution of BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance) sector has also helped the startups to establish themselves and gain grounds. This is suggested that before joining a Startup the candidate should analyze the financial risk sector of the company and take the decision accordingly.

The author is Managing Partner of Executive Access, a leading executive search firm

Full Coverage:7 Things One Should Know Before Joining A Startup

Why Finding Diverse Talent Remains A Challenge | 29th Oct., 2018
The challenge today is not about bringing women into the origination but the how to make them successful at work. Great Talent is scarce today. Markets are dynamic and competitive, and if a company doesn’t put in efforts in understanding diversity and the benefits of diversity, in turn, they would have to pay a heavy price for productivity, Innovation, Culture, growth and inclusion.

Diversity is not about hiring women into leadership roles or showing a percentage of improvement in women hiring. It’s all about changing mindset, the way we behave with our colleagues, internal and external customers, suppliers and its habit where everyone should talk, walk, breath in everyday life. It should be a way of life.

By having women leaders in top management roles would help to become customer-centric and also to understand the customer preferences better. The challenge today is not about bringing women into the origination but the how to make them successful at work and the diverse talent has to be acquired across the organization

Poor Basics
The organization has to make its fundamentals right, many times companies aren’t good at the basics and that will make a big difference. The organization has to stand for its values, ethos, purpose and their existence in the society. Many times family businesses would have a short-term mindset when compared to Multi-National Companies. They are right in one way if they can’t survive today and there is no tomorrow. The organization must have values that are caring, trust and respect for people. Meritocracy, employee engagement and hiring top talent has to be organization prime agenda.

Poor Communication& No accountability
Many times organizations won’t talk about their diversity, Inclusion and current standing which would put the prospective employees in a dilemma. Men and women should speak about the organization and its value proposition and emotional side of it. Sharing success stories of employees and their experiences with data speaks for itself and allows leaders to account for results – whether it’s representation, actions e.g., hires, promotions, termination, compensation actions or sentiment. The qualitative analysis sentiment allows for deeper awareness and empathy that might, in turn, help people be heard and feel more respected.
Are diversity and inclusion CEO’s agenda or CHRO? It’s the collective responsibility across the organization. CEO, CHRO and leadership team should take the accountability for diversity results and shortfall. Also measure the progress and shortfall regularly and it has to be on top of organization agenda so that they breathe, sleep and retention of diverse talent.

Unstructured Business Strategy and Bias
There exists unconscious bias from leaders when they recruit talent and they like people with whom they would be comfortable with. This bias limits in acquiring great talent and retention of talent. Unconscious biases which translate into behaviours, opinions and actions. Including diversity is part of the business strategy of the organization and policies would have an impact on diversity hiring and retention. You need to have a Diversity and inclusion plan in place and the sooner is better to correct the challenges.

No Flexibility
Flexibility at work matters a lot for women and this is very important especially millennials and Gen Y. But it isn’t about work-life balance per se. Most of the women workforce career is very important in their lives and want to be a part of creating a great, enduring success and changing the world. And that implies a certain amount of work. But they want flexibility in those arrangements—the chance to make choices that enable them to be successful throughout their career and their personal lives.
Women and diverse candidates get attracted if there is a great corporate culture, belongingness, employee engagement and flexibility. When the organization shows that it had shown that women or diversity employees were taken care of in the past, have grown and given challenging assignments

Equal opportunity
Everyone in the organization should feel that there exist merit and performance to showcase their true strengths. The company culture revolves around its values, passion and culture which allows providing the flexible environment, generous benefits and frequent perks that help to retain the highly skilled employees.
Diversity and inclusion impact a business in three main ways, Results in better decision-making, strengthens corporate culture and better collaboration among teams. Diversity& Inclusion has to become a social responsibility.

Full Coverage:Why Finding Diverse Talent Remains A Challenge