‘We’ll treat you well’ is Aster DM Healthcare’s brand promise and long-term commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion across its 17,600 strong workforce. It is a business imperative,” says Executive Director and CEO Alisha Moopen.
In today’s world, the more diversity of thought and action there is, the stronger the organisation evolves. Companies and Nations that embrace the differences will experience much better outcomes than those who stay rigid with the ways of the past. Both women and men bring different strengths to the table, and the strongest companies are those that are able to utilize, leverage, and embrace these differences. This has been our core thinking behind focusing on diversity and inclusion as a key pillar for our organisation’s strategy.
At Aster DM Healthcare, 58% of our employee workforce is Women as of March 2018. Out of this women population, 41% are based in GCC countries and out of which 29% are working out of UAE. However, this is only one side of the facts. Our further priority remains to give talented women an opportunity to realise their aspirations and develop into leaders of the organisation.
Healthcare is a personalised industry, and we want to develop and nurture our diverse group of leaders in the same way as we ensure that we continue to follow a progressive business model that delivers the highest standards of care and compassion for our patients.
PROGRAMMED FOR CHANGE
Our goal to make this a reality has been a priority since 2015, when we launched Tahseen, an initiative that focused on improving, enhancing and developing capable female Arab talent within Medcare Group. This was given further impetus with the launch of our Medcare Women and Children’s Hospital – run by women, for women.
Building on the successes of Tahseen, in January 2015, we decided to pilot the Women Leadership Programme in 2017, which now focuses on talented women at operational level (mid-managerial level) across all verticals in UAE.
But it’s not about numbers and ticking diversity and inclusion boxes, with programme objectives, focused on instilling self-awareness about individual’s capabilities to unleash untapped potential; to build resilience and strategise a succession plan for our female employees; to establish a strong, highly engaged middle and senior leadership talent pipeline; and, finally, to create role models for the group and for the next generation of young leaders in the region.
The groundwork began with a rigorous screening and short-listing of high potential candidates. Playing on the inclusivity aspect, we involved all our business leaders in the selection process, from department heads and business HR teams through to the board. Our Women Leadership Programme committee, of which I am a member, was responsible for the final decision where we drilled down to key criteria ranging from past performance and leadership potential to, their all-important career aspirations.
A total of 25 high potential young women leaders made the grade following some pretty in-depth psychometric testing and entered the holistically conceptualised programme to pursue a range of managerial and cross-functional roles, supported by business metrics designed to measure the progress and effectiveness of each individual’s journey. In tandem, Individual Development Plans (IDPs) were created for each participant.
During the initial stage of planning of our Women Leadership Programme (WLP), we had approximately 16% of our total population of Women Leaders at Operational level i.e. our Middle/ Management like Senior Mangers till AGM levels; and 12% women leaders overall at Business and Enterprise Leadership levels like VP/ CXO level positions.
Our aspiration is to have more potential and aspiring Women leaders holding these Operations, Business and Enterprise Leadership positions within the Aster Group. For e.g. our aspiration is to move these numbers from 16% to 35% and 12 % to 25% to have more Women leaders across holding more accountability and passionately contributing towards enhancing the high performance and engaged workforce culture with Aster DM Healthcare.
The latest programme iteration has been extended to cover five major business units from Medcare and Aster clinics and hospitals to retail and our corporate office.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF DIVERSITY
Looking ahead to 2019, we will continue to develop our people-centric agenda as it’s something that is embedded in our values, belief system and that defines our corporate soul and shared culture.
It goes without saying that we make great efforts to ensure that all our employees feel safe and happy regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender, physical appearance, religion, caste or creed – and our Employee Centric Governance Driven programmes lead this commitment. Committees comprised of diverse nationalities and seniority across different geographies, are a go-to platform for employee concerns and feedback.
Set in stone, but reviewed on a quarterly/periodic basis, in line with the changing needs of our employees, business priorities, and the social and cultural context in which we operate, our diversity and inclusivity objectives are regularly discussed at the most senior level and progress is assessed annually.
Put simply, our business success is a reflection of the quality of our workforce and we are committed to an inclusive culture which values diversity of thought, opinion and background, and where all employees are provided with equal access to opportunities for individual growth and success.
CASE IN POINT
Ciba Sunil Raphael, Head Nurse, neonatal intensive care unit, Medcare Women & Children’s Hospital, was one of the first Aster employees to be selected for the Women Leadership Programme. She shares her learning experience.
“Once I had been shortlisted, the next step was an initial assessment interview followed by two psychometric assessments, one of which was a 360-degree feedback survey, wherein my peers, subordinates, reporting managers and functional head provided feedback. This was incredibly important, especially in terms of self-realisation and setting the path for my developmental journey.
“These assessments were designed to gauge our aptitude, values and competencies, basis which, I worked with our talented team to build my Individual Development Plans (IDP). This gave me a clear idea about my short-term and long-term aspirations and, most importantly, what I needed to work on. I realised that in my role I need to lead with more empathy and assertiveness.
“It has been a completely transformational experience with the last year being a blended learning journey that included theme-based classroom sessions to enhance my business competencies, formal and informal topic-led talk sessions with our internal coaches, exposure to cross-industry experts/ influencers to widen our horizons, and on-the-job project based skillset development. This was very interesting as we worked in teams to apply what we learned in a real-time business environment.
“The key highlight for me was the mentorship programme, where I was paired with a specific mentor who was a constant guide and who helped me develop the requisite skills to meet my programme goals.
“Overall, the Women Leadership Program has allowed me to dream and aspire more, and to lead with increased empowerment and empathy; and to motivate others to realise their own goals through personal and professional development.”