25 Nov 2017
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Viacom18 raises bar with 9 months paid maternity leave, ushers in a ‘wave’ of gender diversity at work

MUMBAI: If you are a female worker at Viacom18, you will get several benefits including a paid maternity leave of nine months or 36 weeks.

With women comprising 38% of Viacom18’s workforce, the company has introduced a slew of other measures that will make it a much more female-friendly company than others in the industry.

In fact, Viacom18’s offer of 36 weeks is clearly about to set some new benchmarks within the industry. Most companies in India provide 16–18 weeks of paid maternity leave.

With a view to bringing in gender diversity and promoting inclusion at the workplace, Viacom18 is rolling out a brand-new programme called ‘Women at Viacom18’ or ‘Wave’, which will focus on key aspects of life to help women perform to their full potential during their careers. The programme focuses on four pillars—safety, wellness, life events and career development with various interventions under each.

Wave is a women-friendly work-linked benefits programme that includes an increase in paid maternity leave to 36 weeks or nine months and additional benefits for new and expectant mothers working at Viacom18.

The programme focuses on the overall safety, wellness and career development of female employees. Wave has been introduced with the aim of cultivating a culture of encouraging women to grow as professionals and taking on more leadership roles.

The new policy also offers 30 days of paternity leave.

Sudhanshu-VatsSpeaking about Wave and its significance to the organisation, Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats said, “I have always believed that our people are our strongest competitive advantage. With Wave, we seek to address the importance of gender diversity in a modern-day organisation. At 38%, the representation of women in our organisation is already above the national average.

“The first phase of Wave is internally focused and aimed at institutionalising gender diversity, sensitising our workforce and building equality for our women employees. Once we have achieved these goals, Wave will transform into a larger platform and even surpass Viacom18 walls.”

Abhinav ChopraViacom18 chief human resource officer Abhinav Chopra said, “Our constant endeavour is to create a workplace that provides a sense of belonging and a place that makes our employees feel cared for. It is with this objective in our hearts we launched an exciting new initiative Wave. Wave is the result of intense research and a number of extensive conversations with employees, to understand their pressing needs. Based on these conversations, we have identified focus areas, which often tend to be the biggest concerns for most working women.

“Addressing each of these concerns, we have introduced exciting initiatives—from providing night travel to a 36-week maternity leave programme to flexible working option for 12 weeks after maternity leave—which will help us ensure our employees are provided with all that they need to be able to be happy at the workplace, which will help them perform better.”

The company claims to be working towards creating a culture of safety for female employees by providing them transportation in case they are working late. To ensure wellness, the company will be providing healthcare camps for women in the workplace in addition to existing initiatives that include doctor visits at the office, therapists to help with their emotional well-being and annual health check-ups.

Chopra explains that with Wave the aim is to be the preferred employer. The focus on gender diversity is looked at through a business performance lens. Creating Wave has been a one-year process. It started with listening to people in a formal method rather than just relying on conversations around the cooler.

He noted that over the past 10 years Viacom18’s employees have grown ten-fold in number. The attrition rate, he claims, is among the lowest in the industry. He goes on to add that financial and emotional incentives are both equally important. One cannot survive without the other. For him it is important to focus on right practices for an organisation and not on best practices. That is because an organisation needs to take into consideration factors like people diversity.