Encouraging gender parity at leadership level
At Policybazaar, we live by the principle of diversity which is not just in thought but action too. Women have been promoted to CXO level roles based on merit and performance.
Embracing diversity is not just an idea– it is an essential aspect of progress- not just social but also economic. Research shows that men and women have the ability to see risks and opportunities through a different lens, which brings greater diversity of thought when the two are put together.
At Policybazaar.com, the representation of women at leadership positions has never been an issue. The leadership team here is made of young and progressive minds with merit being the only way to gauge a person’s ability to lead.
As far as doing good work is concerned, gender has never mattered to us. People have always been given their due based on what they have brought to the table which is why there have been a lot of strong women leaders who have emerged out of the workforce at Policybazaar. They have been judged on merit alone, nothing more, nothing less
Co-Founder & CEO
Yashish Dahiya, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Policybazaar.com group of companies believes that an individual is so much more than what they are born as. He says, “We are a people centric company. Our prime focus has always been the people we work with - as consumers, business partners as well as employees. We consider people as individuals - our policies, our language, our structures have all been built keeping in mind that individuals needs to be celebrated for their abilities and not the chance of their birth.”
“As far as doing good work is concerned, gender has never mattered to us. People have always been given their due based on what they have brought to the table, which is why there have been a lot of strong women leaders who have emerged out of the workforce at PolicyBazaar.com. They have been judged on merit alone, nothing more, nothing less,” he adds.
This is evident from the fact that while only 8.5% women work at senior management roles in India, as per a Credit Suisse report; at Policybazaar, women’s share in senior management roles is 16%, almost double of the Indian average.
Women bring qualities like empathy, unique approach to problem-solving, excellent mentorship abilities, fairness, honesty and a generally stronger work ethic. If these qualities seem subjective to you, consider this - according to a survey by the Peterson Institute for International Economics on nearly 22,000 firms globally, having 30% of top leadership as women increases the profitability of a typical firm by up to 15%!!
Chetna Gogia, Head of Human Resources at Policybazaar, who joined the company six months ago says that during her professional journey, she has seen many companies where women don’t have a say at senior levels. “I have seen Policybazaar encouraging women to participate in decision making processes,” she adds.
“Policybazaar has a safe work culture, which is the most important aspect for a female employee. We do not pressurize women to work late hours after their shift is over, if they don’t wish to,” says Gogia.
“A deserving employee gets more opportunities in this company as we don’t discriminate on the basis of gender. I have seen a number of women climbing up the success ladder, growing from junior levels to top positions at Policybazaar. We have many female employees working at senior levels across departments including strategy, legal, investor relations,” she adds.
Gogia further explains that as per law, a female employee is entitled six months of maternity leave. However, at Policybazaar, women have been given extension of six months if they want.
“In an effort to increase facilities for women, we are also looking at having an in house creche where they can bring their kids to office. We are also tying up with a few vendors who can refer females who want to come back in the profession after a child or have taken sabbatical. We will be hiring them at all levels,” she adds.
There is no better way to understand how merit trumps gender at Policybazaar.com than hearing the stories of some important women leaders in the company.
Anjla Dhir is a Senior Director and Head of Service at Policybazaar.com. She has been a working woman all her life and has been with the company since 2013, when the company was still finding its way in the industry. Working at Policybazaar.com has been an empowering experience for her.
“The founders articulated their vision to me, trusted my judgment and let me decide what steps were needed to be taken to achieve it. They pretty much gave me a blank white canvas to paint on. That kind of faith can be very empowering”, she says.
As compared to other organizations she has worked with, she feels that at Policybazaar.com, there is a freedom to make mistakes and a speed of action that defines the work culture. This makes it stand out and empower leaders to grow.
“Gender does not play a role in defining who you are at Policybazaar.com, as long as you can show merit in your performance and live up to your promised potential, the company will help you scale the heights you want”, she says.
A case in point is Santosh Agarwal, a wonderful example of the trust that the company places in its women leaders. She joined Policybazaar.com in late 2011 as an Assistant Manager and in less than eight years has become the Chief Business Officer for the Life Insurance vertical in the company.
Her rise has been one of the most phenomenal ones in the company, to say the least. Talking about her experience in these eight years, Santosh says, “My growth here has been better than I ever anticipated or expected. Since the beginning, it has been clear that this is a place where if you work hard and are sincere about the efforts you make, the company will take care of you. I never had to worry about my promotions or appraisals. I had only put in my best efforts on the job and year after year, I was rewarded for it. That keeps you going. The company is really fair and transparent and it was evident from day one.”
This sentiment is echoed across conversations with other women leaders as well. Rasleen Kaur started at Policybazaar.com as a Product Manager for Health in 2012. She has had a meteoric rise in the company and is now Vice President and Head of Corporate Strategy & Investor Relations. She believes PB has supported her immensely in her journey, giving her the opportunity to grow as well as create her own opportunities to pick up projects and see them through to fruition.
While she learned a lot from the senior leadership simply through being exposed to and listening to their conversations with various stakeholders, she says there has never been any hand-holding in the company and at a young age she was encouraged to deal with business partners and venture capitalists as per her own judgment. The freedom to operate as per her own understanding has given her immense professional confidence.
“At Policybazaar.com, there is no hierarchy; you are not micromanaged and neither you are penalized for making mistakes as long as you learn from them, try to mend them and do not repeat them. This holds true across departments. Here, your work speaks for itself and nothing speaks louder than a job well done”, she says.
Rasleen is aware that women have to face a different set of expectations and challenges while trying to make a mark professionally than men. However, these differences have never held her back because she learned to maneuver through them early in her career.
“It’s all about people skills and management. In order to rise to leadership positions, women need to understand that more responsibility will always mean more commitment. You have to be prepared to do that. However, standing your ground for what you believe in will get you there for sure,” she says.
Shivli Katyayan had a ten months old baby when she joined PolicyBazaar.com in 2015 as Assistant Vice President and Head of the Legal department. When she was offered the job, the senior leadership told her in no uncertain terms that they understood that her child is her top priority.
These circumstances in another company would likely be considered an impediment to professional commitment, but at PB, having a young child who might demand extra attention sometimes was never considered a reason to doubt Shivli’s ability to perform.
She was trusted with the task of building the legal team at Policybazaar.com from the ground. She was told that as long as work gets done, how or where she works from is a totally flexible situation. In a span of only five years, she built the legal team to what it is today, taking it from a one member team to nine. Shivli is also the Head of IRDAI Compliance issues and has accomplished the feat of being one of the youngest General Counsels in the country.
Her experience at Policybazaar.com has been extremely rewarding. Not only has she been trusted to take independent decisions, she has always been encouraged to have a voice and it has been heard. The faith that the company has reposed in her leadership has made her more invested in the company too.
“At Policybazaar.com, ownership of your work and independence to do it your way is ingrained in the company’s DNA. The work ethic here is simple- the only thing that matters is that work gets done. Who does it- he, she, it- none of that matters. As long as you can prove your merit and own your work as well as the mistakes you make, you will be supported to grow within the company”, she says.
Apart from these women leaders who are on the frontline of Policybazaar.com, there are scores of others in middle management and executive positions in the company who walk into the office daily looking forward to doing good work and having their voices heard. In a world full of gender-based landmines and with women still largely struggling to be heard in boardrooms, Policybazaar.com is out there breaking tradition, placing merit over gender, each time, and by encouraging women to step up, grooming them as leaders. The company is giving them the space and flexibility they need to be able to do justice to both their personal as well as professional lives, understanding that one need not be compromised in favor of the other.
Women entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are changing the game at India Inc. and Policybazaar.com is at the helm of this change, coaxing the best out of its female workforce and giving them all the opportunities they need to stand out and shine in their own light, not just as a reflection of the work of their male counterparts.
(With inputs from Bhanvi Arora)
PBLife is the official storyteller of PolicyBazaar. A sneak peek inside the world of PB, our stories, our work culture, the latest in the world of insurance and conversations with the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Madhu is a graphic designer and resident photographer at PB! She can often be seen wandering around floors, camera in hand, capturing the Life@PB. In her free time, she likes to write and roam the streets of Delhi to capture its myriad colors.