Today we meet four active members of KONE India Technology and Engineering Center (ITEC) Women’s Talent Council members to hear about the benefits and impacts their involvement in the council has had on their professional and personal lives. Soumia Hemaraj, Nithya Kalyani D.G., Philomena Dancy and Srividhya P, offered us a sneak peek of their learnings. We gathered 10 benefits the members have gained by actively participating in the council.
Hi! I am Soumia, I am a Senior Technical Writer here at KONE, India. I started my journey in the ITEC Women’s Talent Council (IWTC) right from the beginning of my KONE days about two and a half years ago. I am an active member of the council, supporting all the efforts, but focusing on development. This means working towards holistic development through gender awareness programs, career grooming services, and vocational training facilities which address women’s needs and concerns. As a core member of the development wing of IWTC, I am involved in planning and conducting activities that are designed to equip women with skills and attributes to grow by using the resources and opportunities available at KONE. In my free time, I study languages, spend time with my children, and listen to music.
Hiya! I am Nithya, deputy HR Manager and one of the pillar members of the IWTC council. I started my career at KONE straight after college in 2011. I started my journey as an HR Trainee in Shared Services and moved up the ladder to Deputy HR Manager, Human Resources handling 1,500+ Global Shared Services and Research & Development employees. During my tenure of 12 years at KONE, I handled diversified portfolios including performance management, employee experience and engagement, recruitment and retention, training and development, policy creation and execution, conflict resolution and HR analytics. Another feather in my hat is being a member of the DEI India forum. I love to travel, explore new places and spend more time with my family.
Greetings! I'm Dancy, test automation specialist, Proudly, I also wear the hat of an active champion in the ITEC Women Talent Council's engagement wing. Our primary mission is to captivate individuals through innovative and educational initiatives, propelling them forward. My professional journey kick-started as a college intern. I ventured into the thriving field of test automation during its boom and progressed to become a key player in the manual testing team. The IWTC has been a transformative force, refining my core qualities of "collaboration" and "courage" on both personal and professional fronts. My leadership skills have flourished under the constant nurturing of IWTC, making me not just a participant but a leader in teamwork.The journey is exciting, and I eagerly look forward to the continuous development and growth it brings.
Hello! I am Srividhya. As a technical support specialist, I have made significant progress since my days as a graduate engineer trainee in 2011. KONE has been instrumental in my career by providing an excellent platform for learning and development. I also work in the engagement wing of IWTC, organizing team-building activities, talk and talent shows, quizzes, and social events. The main objective of the wing is to promote excitement and refreshment, which is essential to break away from the monotony of mechanical work life and foster connections with colleagues. Collaboration is a powerful tool, and I am grateful that this forum has helped me develop the courage to handle people better. Connecting, sharing experiences, and learning from one another can enhance my professional life. After work, I enjoy spending quality time with children, caring for their needs, and being there for them.
“I have seen the council taking off from its inception and it is really inspiring to see everything that we achieved over the short years of existence. For example, we increased the diversity ratio from 13% to 18% in a period of four years and were named among the best companies for women in India seven times in a row,” Nithya says.
As 2024 kicked off, a new ITEC Women’s Talent council took the reins and launched the activities for the upcoming year.
More than just a council!
There are several benefits of actively or partially participating in the Women's council and most of them are strongly interlinked.
“This council is entirely run by women, for women. We have brainstormed and created the event calendar for every year and we have the responsibility for implementing them. We are not dependent on HR or other teams to run these initiatives. This gives us a sense of power in steering the course the way we want. We have organized workshops on essential subjects like “negotiation skills and ‘being assertive in the workplace'. It goes a long way in the development of our women colleagues”, says Nithya.
“Our prime objective is to empower women and help them develop their knowledge in both technical and non-technical fields. Appropriate training is planned and provided to our women to overcome the constraints and challenges that hamper their growth and advancement”.
2. Creating value
“We create value both on an individual and company level. On a personal level, it creates value because it is a grassroots initiative. All the activities come from the target group's needs - our needs. We listen, discuss and create activities accordingly. As for the company level, this initiative brings value in terms of attraction, employer branding, and creating awareness. We have been awarded the best place to work for women in India seven times, and it has helped us attract more talented women to KONE. It is a great reminder that this kind of safe forum is needed,” adds Dancy.
3. Improving the sense of belonging
“As it is an employee-driven initiative, people have full ownership of their achievements. It has been proven to have so many impacts on a company level, the most recognized of those is retention,” adds Nithya. Indeed, the first touchpoint already starts from the induction. The introduction of the council and its activity is part of the official onboarding agenda, therefore, by default, all women are part of the group. “Some women are more active than others, but just knowing that there is an existing internal group to support women’s growth creates a sense of safety,” mentions Srividhya.
4. Increasing exposure
Interacting with people outside of your team and department is very powerful. It is an eye-opener to the different opportunities that exist outside of your core area. “In the end, gaining exposure can spark interest in a career growth, strengthen your relationship with colleagues, grow your network, and participate in broader learning opportunities,” adds Soumia.
Learning and developing are also among core focuses and benefits of the council. Both soft and hard skills have been on the agenda and it has helped us gain new knowledge and abilities to perform our work, collaborate better, and be more productive. “In return, it has helped us personally to grow as individuals and better foresee outreach opportunities,” says Dancy.
“Feeling inspired and inspiring others is what made me join in the first place. You realize that you are not the only one struggling with the same issues, and it helps with long-term motivation toward your personal goals, your work, and your workplace. It plays a key role in unlocking creativity, driving productivity, and also boosting happiness,” highlights Soumia.
Having a safe place to share experiences enables people to seek assistance and support, and build common responses. “When one of us experiences something, we are all behind them to support in one way or another. Having our voice heard also helps our members with improving self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-awareness as well as feeling more valued which in the end reflects in the overall well-being,” confirms Nithya.
“Exchanging thoughts and sharing experiences also results in improving the feeling of connectivity with others in the community. We have built relationships with one another and the more we know each other, the more we want to engage. Like a snowball effect, the more we engage, the more it increases our feeling of control, independence, and sense of belonging to KONE,” says Nithya.
9. Creating awareness
We are creating awareness inside out. The ITEC Women's council internally contributes to the improvement of psychological safety at work and improves the overall environment for women at KONE. Along the way, it has a positive effect on men’s understanding of gender equality. “By mobilizing our knowledge and resources, it stimulates self-mobilization and actions and we convey our enthusiasm to our colleagues. Outside of our organization, we create awareness by sharing our experiences,” affirms Soumia.
If there is one message I would like to convey it is that we are change-makers, we have established a platform to learn and grow and it is available for all”, says Nithya. “I am looking forward to seeing the platform grow and increase our allies within and outside of KONE."
10. Improving gender equality
“We promote gender equality in several ways. We are taking action to create an inclusive workplace, improving professional development, and ensuring that women are on the roadmap for managerial positions too. Our organization is even making efforts to make gender neutral job descriptions, thereby creating equal opportunities for all. We are making role models accessible for all and sharing success stories to inspire us,” summarizes Srividhya.