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Viacom 18 attempts to make workplace better for women

Its new WAVE initiative includes policies such as nine-month paid maternity leave and health check-up camps for women

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | October 12, 2016


With nearly 38 per cent of women in its workforce, Viacom 18 has launched a new Human Resource (HR) initiative -- WAVE -- to lead a mindset change and to encourage female employees to become leaders. WAVE includes a lot of new HR policies, the first of which is to make a mindset change and to provide opportunities for women to work hand-in-hand with male counterparts.

Often women are seen in a dilemma to choose between career and family, between a managerial role and motherhood and the toughest part is when they have to make a permanent choice to leave any one. While time and again, there have been discussions about the need for equality between men and women, the infrastructural and logistical issues have never been thought about.

It’s not too uncommon for a woman to take a year or two break from her career to ‘take care of her child’, but when she springs back, her colleagues have obviously moved ahead with some extra experience and hence, she feels that her opportunities are lost.

But today when it’s imperative for a family to have a double income, it’s time that the mindset is upgraded along with the lifestyle. To bring in this very change, Viacom18 is ready to set new benchmarks in HR policies with the launch of a brand new women-centric programme titled WAVE – Women at Viacom18.

WAVE is Viacom18’s way of acknowledging that women in the workplace have to face a whole different set of concerns compared to their male colleagues. The idea is to give women that freedom to be who they are and focus on their work without having to worry about things like safety, or who’s going to look after the baby, or even taking time off for a medical check-up.

WAVE is a women-friendly work-linked benefits programme, including the increase in paid maternity leave to 36 weeks or nine months, as well as providing additional benefits for new and expectant mothers in Viacom18 along with various initiatives focusing on the overall safety, wellness and career development of female employees of the company. 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 programme focuses on four pillars – safety, wellness, life events and career development-- with various interventions under each.

Sudhanshu Vats Sudhanshu Vats

Speaking about WAVE and its significance to the organisation, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18, said, “Viacom18 prides itself in being a thought leader on several counts. The magic we create across screens is made possible only by the tireless efforts of a team of exemplary professionals. I have always believed that our people are our strongest competitive advantage. With WAVE – Women at Viacom18, we seek to address the importance of gender diversity in a modern-day organisation. At 38 per cent, the representation of women in our organisation is already above the national average. Over the years we have worked to create an enabling environment to maintain this representation even across higher levels. We have new benchmarks to set as we progress in our journey to become India’s most admired media and entertainment company. WAVE is one such step in this direction. The first phase of WAVE is internally-focused and aimed at institutionalising gender diversity, sensitising our workforce and building equity, over equality, for our women employees. Once we have achieved these goals, WAVE will transform into a larger platform and even surpass Viacom18’s walls.”

Viacom 18 has been known as one of the best employers in the media and entertainment industry with a low attrition rate as compared to the rest of the industry.

Abhinav Chopra Abhinav Chopra

Abhinav Chopra, Chief Human Resource Officer, Viacom18 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, which 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 post 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.”

As a part of WAVE, Viacom18 is working towards creating a culture of safety which will allow female employees to focus on their work and their career without having to worry about their safety by providing them transportation in case they’re working late. Under the pillar of wellness, the company will be providing healthcare camps for women in the workplace in addition to existing initiatives, which include doctor visits at the office, therapists to help with their emotional well-being and annual health check-ups.

For expectant and new mothers and fathers, Viacom18 will be rolling out a whole host of initiatives which are not only at par with industry standards but actually go beyond the set norms. While most companies provide an average of 16-18 weeks in maternity leave, Viacom18’s offer of 36 weeks is clearly about to set some new benchmarks within the industry. With additional benefits that include post-maternity leave, check-up leaves, paternity leave, an upcoming day-care centre, Viacom18 is on its way to ensuring that women at Viacom18 are not only provided the best career opportunities but are also well cared for.

As for the gender pay gap that the industry keeps talking about, Chopra said that he believes in creating equal opportunities for women, rather than concentrating on mere pay. “It is important that we give women equal chance to compete and facilitate them to continue following their careers. Rather than increasing the payments which is very easy, effort must be made in changing the mindset towards women.”

While a lot has been said and done about the equality in genders and to bring pay parity among the two, very few organisations in the country have actually taken a serious note of it. Nonetheless, a lot of surveys have proved how working mothers and married women become much more efficient and quick at their work in office.

Tags: Viacom 18
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