Meena Anand is an international HR professional with over 20 years experience having worked for a number of multinational financial services organisations – Barclays, UBS, and Standard Chartered. Operating at the C-suite level for over a decade, she is truly a global executive with experience across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Meena has held significant CHRO positions, most recently overseeing the people transformation of a c.30,000 strong shared service centre across 18 locations and 4 countries.
Q. How do you define Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace before and after the pandemic?
A: It’s quite hard to define as it’s a pretty complex topic! I see there being 3 “layers” to the agenda.
– The base layer you have social justice or equality agenda where diverse groups are represented and should have equal access to opportunities. For example, the work on percentages of women on boards, age discrimination, gender pay gaps, etc.
– The next level is moving on from “representation” to “involvement” – creating an open culture in which everyone feels valued, respects colleagues, and recognises their contribution.
– The third level is when you start to leverage that involvement further and create some real tangible outcomes e.g. financial performance but also more intangible areas like increased agility and innovation.
Overall the pandemic has served to push the D&I agenda along in some ways. For instance, the increased acceptance of flexible and remote working strategies. But, overall the agenda has been slowed the list down, taking it back to the “base layer”.
Q. Is D&I more of a business strategy or an HR program. Why?
A. D&I is neither an HR program nor just a strategy. Instead, it is an “organisational cornerstone” that seeps through all aspects of organisation activity and decision making.
HR teams do certainly have a pivotal role to play as custodians of the D&I agenda. They are also accountable for creating exemplary people management practices that actively support the agenda – resourcing, promotion etc. Finally a sustainable focus on D&I relies on building strong line of managers and senior leaders who go beyond just paying lip service and engage with the D&I plan. A critical focus for HR teams!
Q. Lastly, your crucial area of interest is next-gen HR, where the focus is more on the upcoming generation. In that case, how will you follow a Diversity and Inclusion strategy in your workplace?
A. I think next-gen D&I strategies and practices are all about realising that last layer I spoke of earlier. I am moving from representation and involvement to realise business outcomes truly.
Q. Being a woman who is regarded as one of the top HR leaders, how did you manage to reach such a great height?
A. It was carefully and meticulously planned of course! No, not really. In reality, it was a mixture of thoughtful directional planning…I always wanted to focus on HR as a profession, embracing opportunities when they presented themselves and, quite frankly, the support and sponsorship of some exceptional individuals both colleagues and line managers.
I am passionate about providing the same support to others and have pivoted my career to do jus that! I will start a Masters’ degree in Career coaching next month. Super excited!
Q. How important do you think is L&D important in today’s workplace? And how do you see the graph growing in the next ten years?
A. Continual learning has always been critical for both organisations – to ensure they can pivot to changing market dynamics and, at an individual level, to ensure colleagues maximise potential in their current role and remain employable!
The difference over the next 10 years is the speed and delivery approach. Skill sets become obsolete very quickly; the lifecycle for a tech skill set is only a few years for example. Delivery vehicles are largely online, are highly personalised and just in time.
Q. Do you think that the pandemic has shaped the learning process for individuals and changed the way companies approach it?
A. Colleagues are worried about job security. As a result, they are a lot more focused on improving their skill sets and organisations are actively encouraging them. This is really testing current learning processes!