Including Diversity Can Bring About Better Innovations, Says Dr Haimanti Biswas Of HSBC

Addressing the audience virtually at the Rising 2020, Dr Haimanti Biswas who is the SVP of Risk Analytics at HSBC shared that diversity is in the roots and DNA of the company, which is more than 150 years old. Believing in the mantra of together we thrive, the company has been working to bring different people and cultures together. 

“Bringing different cultures and people bring in different ideologies and help serve global customers better,” said Dr Biswas who has a PhD in Developmental Economics and more than 18 years of industry experience in analytics and financial services. 

While cultural diversity is one aspect, they also aim at bringing gender diversity into the workplace. Speaking about how they are moving from the paradigm of chalking out plans to a paradigm of actions, Dr Biswas shared that they are making all the efforts to include talented women in their analytical workstreams in their Global Analytics Centre (GAC CoE) in India. 

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“Given the availability of highly talented women in analytical workstreams, we would like to leverage this talent to create more value to HSBC globally,” she said. 

Multipronged Approach To Bring Women Into The Team

Dr Biswas highlighted various problems areas that they have identified that restrict women involvement in teams and how they are overcoming these challenges. The problem areas are at four different levels — reality disconnect, data disconnect, pipeline disconnect and perception disconnect. 

Reality disconnect: It is due to limited awareness among people on diversity issues, conscious bias and blind spots. To deal with these biases and make people aware they have created modules teaching them about women empowerment. To address this they conduct different training programs for people by leadership to bring equality, programs on women upskilling, investing in balance succession, planning proper gender-inclusive hiring, provide sponsorship, mentorship and more. 

Data disconnect: It refers to the concern around the absence of frequent benchmarking within the industry. Even if there is a benchmarking, there is no current use of data to generate useful insights. To deal with this, they are using HR data to get information on the number of people that they are hiring, no. of women employees and train them equitably. They also connect surveys to see what women want for their career progression. As she highlights, they are aiming to improve upon diversity by 5% y-o-y.

Pipeline disconnect: This refers to their efforts on building a strong pipeline of women in the analytics team. To ensure this they conduct training, grooming, introducing Flexi working, part-time working, care rooms, Flexi timings are more. They also have a Take-2 program for women returning from maternity breaks where structured training is imparted and mentoring is provided to help jumpstart their career. There is also skills assessment and interviews to make it a smooth journey for them.

Perception disconnect: It challenges the differences in the opinions of men and women in dealing with a problem. While women may look at a problem differently, men may perceive it differently.  So to deal with this they have programs to help employees remove these biases and prejudices. They invest in celebrations such as women’s day, men’s day and others to provide a medium to internalise efforts to bring in diversity. 

Apart from these, Dr Biswas highlights that there is a lack of role models that junior women need to look up to for which they are also creating programs. There is also a need to build-up networks and learn from each other’s journey. Ultimately it is not about men vs women but taking steps to make it a better and inclusive work environment for all and breaking glass ceilings. 

Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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