At Societe Generale’s Global Solution Centre (SG GSC), diversity and inclusion is an important aspect of work culture and this is achieved by a shared sense of commitment. Over the years, the Human Resources (HR), Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and leadership teams, managers and employees have all invested their time towards building a workplace that’s conducive for Persons with Disabilities (PwD). SG GSC began actively including Persons with Disabilities (PwD) into the workforce in 2015 with one employee and today we are close to 50.
The holistic approach adopted by teams is one of the reasons for the success of these inclusion initiatives. At the hiring stage, roles are assessed and adapted, the interview is conducted with required special training and technology considerations. Before the employee joins, the reporting manager and the team is sensitized, and career growth and upskilling plans are integrated into their learning path. The first employee hired in 2015, continues to work with us, having recently returned from her maternity leave.
Karim Baig, a Senior Delivery Manager within the Global Business and Investor Services (GBIS) team at SG GSC helped integrate one of the first employees with hearing impairment into his team. He encouraged his entire team to learn sign language to adapt to ensure she didn’t feel left out. The supportive team culture led to the employee with disabilities enjoying a five-year career in different roles. As her manager, Karim adds “the disability did not create any barriers for us a team, instead increased team spirit as we together learnt new things and adopted how we did things. This enabled open communication, collaboration and improved overall performance and process quality as well.”
Meha Grover, who leads the Persons with Disability stream, and as a hiring manager shares that the journey is tough, as managers must move from being sympathetic to being empathetic. “As a manager, I hired my first intern 2.5 years ago, and my first instinct was to think of all the things I thought were supposed to be done to ensure the appropriate working conditions. So, we started to work on accommodation next to office, cab to get him to work, someone who could escort him to desk, breaks and back home – as good as a shadow. What we did not realize was this was our interpretation of what his needs were or what he needed to be productive and feel safe at work, which completely changed during the 3-month internship period.”
Meha adds “We realised it takes two to tango. As much effort as is put in by the PwD staff, similar if not more, effort needs to be put in to create a cohesive working environment that will be conducive for all to be productive and feel safe.”
The journey is a continuous process and the culture encourages every employee with a sense of purpose to create a safe space for each other.
Activities to ensure the workplace facilities are ongoing, and that processes and culture are inclusive, from facility audits to Braille signage across our offices, from accessible spaces for those with mobility issues, to sign language training sessions for all staff, new initiatives are introduced regularly to include everyone in meetings and all walks of work to be treated fairly, without being excluded due to preconceived biases. Even during the pandemic, SG GSC was quick to make the virtual work environment accessible to all. On International Day of Sign Languages, a series of virtual sign language trainings were organised. Employees learnt the basics of sign language during these sessions and took to social media to showcase their newly acquired skills in a show of solidarity to raise awareness.
Leverage the ecosystem to help build a larger and more inclusive environment
Inclusion is a joint effort and many organizations acknowledge that industry needs to work together on this. At Societe Generale’s global solution centre, there is also a focus to create a consortium of organizations to build a much larger and inclusive work environment. SG GSC’s flagship annual event: ConneXion, which is in its 3rd edition this year enables people and organisations to learn, share, connect, network and help build an ecosystem where everybody is included. This year the sessions will be virtual and will focus on how PwD employees are integrated into the workforce and have access to the resources required to empower their lives.
Click here to know more about ConneXion 3.0.