Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Next Level Inclusion - Two Business Imperatives

From the outside, it seems that the deep-seated cultural and business barriers for diversity and inclusion is a huge rock. This huge rock has been sedimented over years in the belief system of people and has been carried on for generations, with different layers inbuilt. When you scratch one layer, you are encountered with another layer of challenge.

To break this huge rock, we gather different tools (Initiatives, policies, KPI's), Bring in more resources (Employee Resource Groups(ERG’s), Volunteers), Gather force (Leadership involvement) and hit the rock as hard as we can at every angle possible, to realize that the more energy we use, the more resistance we encounter.  

But the stone must break someday, as H. Jackson Brown, Jr said: “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” 

The relentless stream of diversity and inclusion will find its place one day, and with the right set of Leadership, Culture, policies, and most importantly employees; the day will arrive much faster than anticipated.

Business Imperatives: A small dip stick survey into the leadership of top multinationals is sufficient to say, today’s leaders not only understand the usefulness of diversity; but also, thoroughly aware of the opportunity cost of not having diversity in an organizational setup. A good leader knows the financial, cultural and social cost of having/not having a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture within the organization.

Over the years, the layer of “Why Diversity & Inclusion?” seem to have been carved out by the relentless stream and moved to the layers of “What and How of diversity and inclusion?”

Two main layers have come to fore now:

1.      Inclusive Mindset
2.      Relevant pipeline and Meritocracy

1. Build an Inclusive Mindset:

  • Inclusion is no more about the central initiatives of the company. Inclusion is to do with our everyday culture.
  • This journey of progressive realization can start with the leaders using a gender-neutral language.
  • Messages are to be subtle but plentiful. Two minutes’ mention of the inclusive culture in an employee all hands by the business leader, goes a long way than 2-hour training program on Inclusion.
  • Employee resource groups(ERG’s) which work on overall inclusion runs longer and appreciated more than the ERG’s which cater to only specific gender or community.
  • Proactive policies and facilities provided by the company help individuals with different sexual orientation come forward with their identity and be comfortable with who they are.
  • If inclusion is a culture, then it is of prime importance to see if the culture has percolated to all the businesses of the organization. The game of averages where one business is at 50% diversity while a few others at 10% might not work. As the case with UBER, companies will one day find the loss of reputation at stake if they leave certain business out of this inclusive culture.

2. Build relevant pipeline:

 A hiring manager often than not chooses to hire a suitable candidate as soon as possible during an ever-increasing business demand.  While it is true that the business managers must be equipped with a mindset to look long term (w.r.t diversity and inclusion), the daily practical challenges for a manager is as much true. “Why let go of something good at hand, in an aspiration to find something I am not sure of?”

Building relevant, specific, proactive and most importantly credible pipeline, both internally and externally becomes important.  While the companies have concentrated on building internal women leaders for managerial and different technical positions. A clear gap exists between the generic skills and the specific skills required for the role.

 What more, all this must be achieved without faulting on the meritocracy. Inclusive environment means a level playing field with the same rules for everyone. The rules of the game remain the same, while the differences in skills, viewpoints, and abilities are what will create a most innovative culture we finally aspire for.

The End Game: The end game, however, is not to destroy the rock but to ensure that the rock and stream co-exist in complete harmony. The inclusion will happen when Men and Women let go of the race to become the superior gender and start relishing their differences. The inclusion will happen when a Gay or a Lesbian or a transgender can relish their differences without fear or humiliation. The inclusion will happen when disability is not met with scepticism but optimism. The inclusion will happen when each of us embraces the differences which others bring in and respect ourselves for what we are.

In fact, Inclusivity is not achieved by doing something, instead, the day when we find each of us feels comfortable with each other and think “I am ok”, “you are ok”, “We are ok”. The inclusion has happened.

This blog was first published in

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hospital Hospital Go away...........

I am discharged and at home now. Thanks a lot for the prayers, ( if u did) or thanks a lot for looking at this post with a shock in your face. I hope you will get the answers by end of it. It was a eventful surgery which went on for 2.5hrs, 15 stiches, 2 ribs cut, 2 days in ICU (doctors said that a open lung surgery was unavoidable as they saw complete adhesion's on the lung membrane). However, the silver lining is that am in safe hands with my parents doing all they might to keep me alright. The doctors also said, that I might well go for diving or flying without worrying about re occurrence after I recover :) .

My mom has gone back to her prayer routines still asking the same question to silent god "Oh God, Why My Son. Please, please please please not again....", and dad is now worried about how to handle the congestion which might occur at home due to relatives and friends who will come to visit me ;) . Not their mistake you see, they were not allowed to visit the hospital. Sister is busy developing a creative routine to keep me energized while brother in law, bothers her with comments of how routine her creativity is, subtly though. My close friends who knew about the incident have been missing me (Which I inferred by their messages), and other who do not know about the incident, still are unaware of my whereabouts. 

I loved something of the entire episode though. The "Anesthesia", But for this medicine I would never have ever approved of this. I only remember seeing a beautiful doctor who was caressing my head in the operation theater. The next thing I remember is that, I was in lot of pain and the same doctor slapping me 5 times to bring me back to senses. (Any way, she does not look beautiful anymore to me). between these two incidents a complicated surgery(as described by the surgeon) was completed successfully. The people waiting outside, said the doctor showed something which weighed 350gms of muscle drenched in blood. I suppose they were the belbs(a little mass unusally more in my lungs) and adhesion's (a membrane like a boost on the food). 

Once conscious, for the first time in life, I think I suffered so much for a drop of water. I was begging for a drop of water from the moment I gained senses to 5 hours after surgery when I was provided with a sip of water (Not glass, only a sip). It is true that experience cannot be explained. Now, I can feel why poverty is considered to be main cause behind crimes. If survival becomes necessity, morality is just redundancy. I had taken out oxygen mask out two times for water, not able to open my mouth, not able to move more than half of my body I could easily convey to nurses around that all I need is water. The nurses just nodded to me  , they understood what I wanted, but with a pale face rejected my plea saying "you will vomit if you drink its not good for you". 

Once in ICU, I was meant to be taken care of, more by machine than by man. There were electrodes all over my chest, emitting some sort of wired signal (refreshing my engineering they might be electro static signals). The BP machine was automated too, which would crunch my left shoulder every now and then. My both hands were punctured numerous times to test if am alright and there was something on my thumb to provide oxygen levels to heart( they called it saturation). I was provided with two packets of blood, I asked the nurse Whose blood is this ? for which she gave an expression which is hard to explain.  For next one day I lived with a fear I might die, not because of the surgery, not because of the pain but because the blood which might be infiltrated, might be not my blood group, might  be HIV. 

I don't remember all people who visited me on my first day at ICU. I vaguely remember me asking, mummy, mummy to doctors before going back to sleep. My mom had a same frantic look "Oh god, why my son", Dad confused, sister curious, brother in law as indistinguishable as always. Pavan I think had come and  I clearly remember Kallu wearing a red T-shirt under red gown. He came, he smiled as an angel from heaven. I remember him walking out with some words in his mouth. He might have got a glimpse that am not yet interested in heaven. If some one else bothered to come and I don't remember, please blame anesthesia for it.     

The second day in the ICU was a turning point. I had got into complete consciousness, which means lot of pain and pain killers. I could see a person screaming for his broken leg. A person shouting for water same as I did.( which actually made my yesterdays behavior normal). A woman not able to breathe which i understood after over hearing nurses saying she might not be alive for long. For some strange reason I suddenly found myself in, "No I don't want to die" position. Something was telling me there is so much to be completed, not for my self but for others. I realized so many things which I have not done to others, or not provided opportunity with. I promise you life I will not take you for granted from now on.

The thought was broken by cute looking nurse "Mr. Naveen, your lunch", "Mom" said I. "Its restricted entry in ICU, and not visitor time, your mom cannot come" replied the nurse. "Fine, I will not eat until my mom feeds me" and closed my eyes as the auto BP machine had started cramping my left shoulder. I was a child I had to be, I was just reborn. The next moment my mom was inside the so called restricted entry and she had a  free go in the ICU, to an extent that my mom never understood why all those stupid people waited outside ICU for their turn when no one stopped her from barging in the ICU in any given hour. 

As I realized that I was getting cranky about my mom forcing me to eat one more spoon of food. One of the nurse noted "You can't talk to your mom like that". I said sarcastically "Will I talk to you like that ??" for which her face had turned red. My mom still calm said. "Its ok sister my son is in pain". 
hmmmmmm...  Mothers are mothers for a reason. I always thought dependence was a curse, but when you know you depend on some one of your own, its a pleasure unmeasurable.  

The nurses might have rejoiced after sending me off to ward(At least that's what their smiles told me). In the ward I was continuously monitored by people more dangerous  than the nurses at ICU (my family). I had fights (with my limited verbal ability) on why i don't want to drink or eat now. I was forced to get out of the bed to walk. I had to take support of two people to walk four steps. Don't underestimate my abilities to walk. I had two pipes inserted into my chest. The injections were pored day in and day out. I could memorize half of them. The only motivation to stay there was to get out of there as soon as possible and convincing a highly confident surgeon that am fit to go was a herculean task. Now all is well. 

Or I hope so. 

For people who have read till here might have two questions

1. What is it all about

    It about my recentt surgery experience which was finally called as "VATS(Thoroscopy), Adhesiolysis + Broncho Pleural Fistua Excision And Pleurectomy " 

P.S: Don't bother googling out and looking at pictures (you'll only regret)

2. On which number does this A@#$%^&e belong ?

yes I belong to too many number but am currently at +918792372726. But might not talk to you for long as am prohibited to talk too much unless the entire stiches are out. 

Friday, December 24, 2010


In the month of September, 2010. I was chosen unanimously to lead the alumni committee by a seven member team. However, ten days into work, majority of them thought that they had made a mistake by electing me as POC (Point Of Contact) to Alcom. The tenth day, we were in a meeting called by me in the middle of the night. The meeting was supposed to decide the future of the alumni committee and my leadership to the team. I was blamed of favoritism, conspiracy and lack of transparency. The moment was tense with few in the team suspecting my integrity and few others my competency to move ahead. For me at that point, the challenge was twofold. I had to fight my inner self by being bold and letting myself to understand my team's point of view and to fight their presuppositions of my lack of integrity. However, The conflict which supposedly would have tarnished aspirations of a teams' leader and also dissolve the entire group, proved so powerful that it single handedly embraced the entire team to be one of the powerful and strong units in history of TISS. 

       Rise of Conflict

       The team had elected me based on parameters like experience, Interest, Relationship and Trust. Even though I had a good relationship with each group member, I had never worked closely towards achieving a task with anyone before. So most of the team members knew very less of my working style and vice versa was equally true. Since it was just the beginning I thought, I neglected some minor but very important aspects of group formation, like communication. On the 9th day. We (Sr.Alcom) were supposed to meet the junior team, I had asked one of my team members to accompany me and he did. We had a good time with the junior members, welcoming them to the committee and telling them the pros and cons of being in this committee. I remember, I had told them "Being in an alumni committee would mean a win/win proposition for an individual as well as the institute. You make sure that the institute improves its relationship with the alumni community, which will also help you in building your personal network". Having achieved the task as expected I came out energized, but at the hindsight few senior Alcom members resented the fact that I had called only one person to meet the junior team and not the entire team. What made this event more dramatic was that this only person was my roommate and close friend of mine.

         Suddenly, the senior members became suspicious about my moves. The trust which they had shown to elect me was no more visible. The reason behind their suspicion was evident. The suspicision aroused not only from the team but also from some external sources. One of our classmate (a non-member of Alcom) has allegedly told to a neutral "I don't know what is going to happen to ALCOM, both Naveen and Xyz are power hungry people!!!!!". My ignorance towards communicating effectively to the team was also used as the fuel to already burning fire. People started to suspect conspiracy and to think twice about my intentions. I who was at that time unknown of the events behind-the-scenes had arranged for a formal meeting with the Sr.Alcom and Jr.Alcom. In the meeting, members of the junior alcom were asked "Why do they want to join alcom?" Most of the answers almost magically replicated the second part of what I had told to them "Will also help you build your personal network". I was stunned at their answers and so were most of seniors. I was stunned at the amount of influence my pep talk had made on the juniors. My classmates were angry because they thought that the idea of building personal network is original view of theirs (juniors). Suddenly, my classmates went furious on this idea of having a junior team which contains people who are here only to increase their personal network. We even went to an extent of dissolving the entire Jr.Alcom. (I should confess that I could not muster the courage to tell my classmates what had happened at that moment itself). My worst fears came true when one of the junior members disclosed that I(Naveen) was the one who had hinted them towards personal network.  (I still do not understand what you can do, having contact details of someone. However, even to this day am somehow scared of sharing).

         Conflict  Resolution

         This was just 10th day of the formation of Sr.Alcom and supposed to be the 1st at office for Jr.Alcom. The news of the disclosure by one of the jr.alcom member spread like a wild fire. I came to know that there were informal meetings conducted behind-the-scenes to impeach me. With influence from external sources on the members(Sr.Alcom). It became imperative the time for my impeachment has come.  I was not surprised. In fact, I knew I had very few choices left, I knew I had made mistakes, I knew I had stumbled at wrong time.

         I called an important and very urgent meeting on this day at around 10:00pm. The meeting was meant to discuss the future of alcom and my leadership towards the team. For me this was my first experience of a group conflict. I did not know what to do. I was just clear about one thing. I have done some mistakes which I want to confess and communicate and there are clarifications to be made for the future functioning of the team. We decided that each of the group member will put forth their opinions of the issues and we can collectively take a decision on the way forward. Each one came up with almost similar issues. Lack of communication, favoritism (even though indirectly), non-transparency were the key issues put forth.

When my turn came, I started with explaining them my intentions when I told the juniors about the network.  I made confession for not communicating effectively. I promised to make the process a lot more transparent  and more importantly shared my vision for alumni committee. I explained them my working style. At the end of it, I also proposed my resignation if needed, particularly since there was a perceived breach of trust. The argument went ahead on alternate methods and improvements needed in the way I work.   With, every one venting out their anger and thinking rationally, we were able to think as a team. I knew in my hearts that the future is hard for me.

         11th day Sr.Alcom met the Jr.Alcom this time a more peaceful one. In this meeting each individual was left to talk their feelings about the happenings in the last two days. Thankfully, each one was looking forward to work for the alumni committee. I was hopeful that the conflict has ended in a good note.

      Conflict is Good (Impact of Conflict)

         The conflict had created accommodating behavior in the members. The conflict had bought some kind of ignition to each one to do something for the team. Now there was no more Sr.Alcom and Jr.Alcom. It was more of Alcom. I made sure that the communications were clear, timely and perceived fair. I learnt the power struggle inside the team and took measures to curtail its ill effects on the team. I became more self astute and started to find the external influencers influencing the team. Even then I had to make sure that there isn't any rebellion from the side of juniors. I had separate meetings with the juniors hearing them and clearing expectations. I was even told by some junior team members that "We will work just for you" which later changed to "We need to do this for Alcom".

         Alcom as a whole has been excellent this year. It has attracted the record number of alumni for "Dharohar-10". It has updated the database to an extent it was never before. It was able to reach the maximum alumni in the network. It is not going to stop here.

         Each meeting we had except for initial clashes has been Fun filled and fruitful. We connected with each other well and executed our plans mostly on time. For us bonding was the most important factor to our success. We have become very good friends and have come a long way after this initial conflict.  For us it was less work and more enjoyment, we derived happiness in work because of the people we were working with. As we moved on as a team we started to support each other from the blame of external world. One of the team members was asked in a sarcastic manner "How many meetings you have in a week? All others are working so hard" for which the member replied "As many as it is required to get things done". The team (Alcom combined) became so united that, it was ready to wage a war against our perceived enemy core comm. The conflict which supposedly would have tarnished aspirations of a teams' leader and also dissolve the entire group, proved so powerful that it single handedly embraced the entire team to be one of the powerful and strong units in history of TISS.          

Naveen Keshava
M.A. (HRM&LR),
Batch 2009-11
Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Moblie: +917666842906

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If ( (Life == Risk) || (Risk == Life) ) {

It was April 7th 2009, At 9 am in the morning, I was before the computer and staring at a website, which was suppose to show me the results of the Interview I had at TISS (Tata Institute Of Social Sciences).

I knew, I was out of options. I knew that either am gonna hit a jackpot or I am gonna be a bankrupt. Bankrupt more emotionally than financially. As I was eagerly waiting for the results, pressing the refresh button with every passing second. My memories rolled to the day of the Interview.

To be fair, I never knew the prowess that TISS had in the business world. The day of my interview showed it all. Green filled campus, voluminous library, spacious Sports hall, list of Doctorates (faculty list) and the competition am suppose to face If ever I get into TISS. I spoke to people who were toppers of their university, rank holder in IIT, A persian language specialist, Person with 9 years experience with Infosys, a fresher who has scored an aggregate of 89% in his engineering and 2 guys who were already into IIMC and IIML. unfortunately for me, these wonders of the world were my competitors to a mere 53 seats. I was scared really scared and had to be.

As I began getting my composure back it was already 10:30 am, my click this time bought some news. "The results will be announced at 3pm today". My anxiety now had doubled and not knowing what to do, I picked up the first book at my desk. The first sentence on the book read. "If you really want something in life and you sincerely work towards it, the whole nature will conspire with you to get you what you want". As this quote began to sink in, I dozed to the end days with caritor.

It took only a sentence by my colleague to make my decision to quit caritor. Yes a timely word can change the world, and it happened in my life. Pradyu had said "Naveen, you are living someone else's dream, what about yours ??" I don't think pradyu remember saying this, because it never mattered to him, but it mattered a world to me. From then on I tried each moment to convince myself of not taking the drastic step but I failed. As some one said "Dream is not something which comes while sleeping but dream is something which never lets you sleep".

As I got away with the dozed state, The clock had ticked 11:15 am. I began to think, had that incident not happened, I could have been in a better position. I had a job, a competitive salary, company which was very near to my house and everything. Many questions lingered in my mind. Did I take a wrong decision ?? , did I hurry ??, Didn't I work enough ??, Was there any other way ??, What if I fail ??, Do I deserve what I desire ??, Wat if everything fails ??, what if ???????????? suddenly out of nowhere I heard my phone ringing, call from my father bought the expected question "did the results come". NO I said, he said to come and join him for lunch as it was already 1:30 pm.

As I finished an unusually silent lunch with my dad, it was already 2:30, I hurriedly went back to my room upstairs. Having seen my parents so silent while at lunch, my thoughts now wandered about their reactions, if I fail. what are they going to feel ??, How are they going to answer the sarcastic comments by our relations ??.

I had a reason behind being so pessimistic about this result. failures with results was a familiar thing to me by then. I had written around 10 more exams just to see someone else getting into those colleges. I did not have a decent job to do (present), I could not expect a decent job for my profile (RECESSION). After failures, even with the average rated B-schools, masters in TISS was only a distant dream.

With all these feelings in my mind my excitement was down and dusted, I did not feel anything about the results now, I lost all my thoughts but the clock did not stop ticking. The clocked showed 3:15 and I knew it was time.

As I typed the register number and pressed the submit button, my father stepped in. I was selected to the masters in HR @ TISS. he was enthralled and I was relieved. He wiped the sweat on his fore head and said 'finally you did it', with a tinge of smile in his face now.

I had only one question to ask him now "What if I had failed ???", the answer from my dad was unexpected. He just said "The day you made up your mind, I knew you will succeed". Yes, I think thats the reason he said that day (around a year and half prior to this day) "If you really think its your dream, then go and get it".

I still don't know if I deserve it or not, I don't know if am capable, I don't know the way to succeed at such an institute but what I know is the worth to get into that institute and to give my best to get the maximum out of the same.

But....................................What if I had failed ???

Thursday, January 1, 2009

YEAR 2008

Year 2008, I better remember it as YEAR 2008. The year which gave me hopes, year which fascinated me so much that I took the risk of a life time, year which told me to follow my dreams, year which gave me that courage to live a life of a legend, year which taught me life is not a cake walk, year which taught me what I can do & what I can't, year which said in an audacious manner "LIFE IS NOT FOR LAZY", year which taught "you get it only when you deserve it".

I came to 2008 in a hope that I can change this world, and change the mindset of the people who think safety first. Look where I am, I tend to believe as most of us do, that I am in the same position as I were a year ago. Many prescribed that, I after earning 8 to 10 lacs for my family in two years, shouldn't have quit my job for something less worthy. But I could not resist the temptation of 2008.

Yesterday my cousin asked me "Was it worth quitting your job ?". I answered "YES".
I had reasons to quit my job. First I was frustrated about myself, I did not have sufficient time to look after my self (mentally). Second, The job was first class, but was I enjoying it ? Third, I had my own plans for the future, which obviously did not match with the profession I was in. Fourth, Money was not the only criterion for me(I was intelligent enough not to get into huge commitments). Fifth, I love being myself.

Year 2008, taught me BEING MYSELF.

JANUARY(2008): It is the time when I was preparing for my FMS as I am doing now. I just had one thing in mind. I could be able to succeed in at least one colleges. only this kept me going.

February(2008): Most of the results were out, and I had failed pathetically. My parents were at ease as they knew this was bound to happen.

March (2008) : After the debacle as every individual does. I began soul searching, but I failed. I couldn't find any reason for my failure.

April&May(2008) : I seriously don't remember how this time went. But I can tell you this was the time when I started to feel I can't make it. I am a failure, I am a looser.

June (2008) : I started to take pain. I started to understand my self better. I was starting to let go my ego and think objectively. I took constructive jobs, took interest in technologies, current affairs, economics, browsing, knowledge sharing, Proactive communication and much more.

July (2008) : I was under immense pressure, not by my parents, not by my friends, not by the society, but by myself and my self belief. I knew I did not have the potential to meet the best. But I had improved a lot and not among one how were sitting behind and watching people run over them. I was actually running along (even though in a slow pace).

August(2008) : The reformations in the last two months had helped me to look at GMAT as an option. I was starting to love what I was doing. I was not a lazy bug sitting and doing something anymore. I had a purpose, I began to feel a new zephyr going in my life which is abating all pain and giving me hope of a brighter future.

September (2008) : I started preparing for GMAT. Most astonishing thing was that I worked harder for GMAT more than I did for CAT. By this time the economy was slowing down, and analyst could feel the recession was coming. I was afraid of the bearings it could have, if I opt for the education overseas.

October (2008) : I had written My GMAT and went into my own shell of self satisfaction (My worst enemy since my birth). I was satisfied to have written GMAT and have scored a marks which was not exceptional but good for a first timer.

November(2008) : CAT went on in a pathetic way, and I lost all hopes which I had garnered for years. ALL HOPES. That is the time when I learn't about my worst enemy "SELF SATISFACTION". I learn't this but did not have sufficient time to rectify it. It was not easy it has been in me since my birth (A habit built over 25 years is hard to break). I know that without breaking this habit (being in my comfort zone after reaching a trivial achievement ), I cannot live, not at least the life I want to live.

December (2008) : I wrote more exams most of them in vain again, except for TISS which went on exceptionally well(God saved me here).

Now when I look back at 2008, I could feel this year is the year which will be termed as the year of LEARNING. The year which taught me life lessons. Without this year, I wouldn't have become the naveen I am now. Without this year I wouldn't have understood myself.

I don't know If I will be able to succeed eventually or not but when some one asks me was the risk justified ?, Was the year 2008 fruitful? I answer YES , Because without this year, I wouldn't have loved myself. I wouldn't have been myself.

My new year resolution: "is to Arise! Awake! and stop not till the goal is reached."

Wats your's ?

Next Level Inclusion - Two Business Imperatives

From the outside, it seems that the deep-seated cultural and business barriers for diversity and inclusion is a huge rock. This huge ...