Diversity & Inclusion

A Clear Vision, and a Lifetime Commitment to DEI

Gwen Kolader, the Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Hexaware Technologies, has carved out a notable career in the field of corporate diversity and inclusion. With over 20 years of experience in people and culture roles, Kolader’s journey reflects a deep commitment to fostering inclusive work environments. Here we explore her career path, highlighting the experiences and insights that have shaped her approach to DEI in the corporate world.

Early Career Path and Journey to DEI

Gwen Kolader’s career in human resources (HR) laid the foundation for her eventual focus on diversity and inclusion. Starting as an HR Business Partner (HRBP), she gradually took on more complex roles in various international companies. “You start with smaller projects and learnings, working closely with your team members, leaders, and employees. And over the years, you grow in experience and seniority,” Kolader explains. Her career path included diverse roles, such as leading international talent programs, serving as an interim HR Director in Scandinavia, and managing people and culture integrations.

Kolader’s shift toward DEI was influenced by her personal experiences as a woman and a person of color, which instilled in her a drive to advocate for equality and equity in the workplace. This focus on DEI was present throughout her career, even before DEI was widely recognized as a crucial aspect of organizational strategy.

Her formal entry into the DEI space occurred at Mobiquity, part of Hexaware, where she led HR and Recruitment for EMEA and APAC. It was here that she was offered the role of Global Head DE&I for Hexaware. “This role combines two important aspects for me: the social and the business,” says Kolader. The position aligned with her professional skills and personal values, marking a significant step in her career dedicated to enhancing workplace diversity and inclusion.

Establishing a New Role in DEI at Hexaware

Gwen Kolader’s journey to becoming the Global Head of DEI at Hexaware marked a significant milestone for the company. This role, a new addition to Hexaware’s leadership, was a testament to the company’s evolving focus on diversity and inclusion. While the role is new, Kolader says that Hexaware “has always valued diversity, especially being rooted in the rich culture of India.” Now, though, she says, “we’re expanding this scope to a global level, which is both challenging and rewarding.”

Advancing DEI Initiatives

Under Kolader’s guidance, Hexaware has launched several key initiatives to deepen its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The company’s Diversity Wednesday campaign is a notable example, offering a platform for sharing DE&I-related content. “We aim to raise awareness and foster understanding through our internal campaigns, webinars, and newsletters,” Kolader explains. Additionally, Hexaware has initiated its first Employee Resource Group (ERG), Allies to Pride, to support the LGBTQ+ community. “Launching Allies to Pride was a significant step for us, creating a safe and inclusive space for meaningful dialogue and support,” Kolader says.

Hexaware’s Unique Approach to DEI

Hexaware stands out in its approach to diversity and inclusion, implementing unique programs that differentiate it from competitors. “Our Strong Her Up program is particularly close to my heart,” Kolader explains. “It supports women returning to work, aligning their skills with suitable roles.”

Another innovative initiative is the annual Diversity Festival, which includes seminars and discussions on various D&I topics. “These programs reflect our commitment to embracing the diverse tapestry of our team members’ backgrounds and beliefs,” Kolader adds.

Supporting Diverse Workers

Hexaware’s commitment to its diverse workforce is evident in its inclusive culture and various initiatives. Kolader emphasizes the importance of this approach: “Creating an inclusive culture is not just about diversity in numbers; it’s about enriching our workplace with diverse perspectives and problem-solving approaches.”

The company’s initiatives, like the Faces of Hexaware series and the Rising W@H program, celebrate and empower employees from diverse backgrounds. “These initiatives are crucial for fostering a workplace where everyone feels valued and can thrive,” Kolader notes.

Inclusive Recruitment

Gwen Kolader highlights Hexaware’s commitment to diversity in its recruitment strategy. “In our quest for a diverse workforce, we’re constantly revising our hiring practices to eliminate bias,” she says. The company harnesses AI and other advanced technologies to focus on the skills and potential of candidates, rather than just their resumes.

Kolader adds, “This inclusive approach in recruitment ensures fairness and opens doors to a broader range of talents.” Hexaware also uses language analysis tools to identify and correct biases in job descriptions and other communications, reinforcing their commitment to inclusivity.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Culture

Kolader notes that Hexaware’s has made significant investment in and efforts towards creating and nurturing a diverse workplace culture. “Our initiatives are designed to foster awareness and acceptance, ensuring everyone feels recognized and valued,” she explains.

Hexaware’s strategy extends beyond its workforce to include customers and community members, emphasizing respect and value for all. Kolader believes that prioritizing people is key to their success. “By focusing on our people, we not only do the right thing, but we also enhance our ability to deliver innovative solutions to our customers,” she asserts. This people-first approach is central to Hexaware’s mission to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.

Hexaware’s DEI journey is ongoing, something that can be said for any organization that is truly committed to effective DEI policies. “We’re deeply committed to our DE&I journey, recognizing there’s much more to accomplish,” Kolader says. She takes pride in the tangible progress and positive feedback from employees who notice an increased emphasis on DEI initiatives.

Kolader emphasizes the importance of leadership commitment and collaboration with customers in this journey. “Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all stakeholders is imperative,” Kolader says. Her vision is clear: to foster a workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and part of a larger, inclusive community. This commitment not only shapes the company’s culture but also strengthens its position as a leader in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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