~ Marco Bizzarri
Diversity and inclusion are crucial to all workplaces and great attention is paid to these aspects across professions.
We, at S.S. Rana & Co., are committed towards working on these facets and continuously improving over the years. At S.S. Rana & Co., we take a holistic view of diversity and inclusion that looks beyond the usual measurements: a view that includes the varied perspectives of our lawyers as well as paralegals and support staff, and anyone who aspires to a future in the legal profession.
We have upheld ourselves to the greatest standards and have always been strong advocates of promoting, protecting and defending the rights of all members of the firm, by way of incorporating changes in our system and raising awareness of various issues. Why? Because we know that new ideas come from diverse ways of seeing things. As a firm committed to diversity and inclusivity, we constantly engage our lawyers and other members through mentorship, teamwork, and a steadfast belief in the power of our profession to change the society. By doing so, we create an environment that encourages innovative thinking and forges stronger bonds.
From our founding, we having been working in this direction. Our aim is to consistently better ourselves in the different spheres such as gender, age, sexual / gender orientation, disability, and social, economic and cultural background, amongst others.We have an unwavering commitment to diversity with the thought that every one of our people has a full sense of belonging within the firm. As a business imperative, every person at the firm has the responsibility to create and sustain an inclusive environment.
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been achieved in the firm by way of formulating and reworking policies to achieve a trust and commitment between the employees and the firm. We believe in representation from all sections, acknowledging all contributions, appreciating the presence and taking into consideration different perspectives of our people, to create an environment where they are valued.
Having a sense of belonging, a feeling of looking forward to going to work and an equal opportunity to contribute to and influence any aspect of the workplace is the ultimate objective.
We strongly believe that all genders are equal and a balance is required between them to ensure a healthy working environment. Gender equality is practiced right from the recruitment stage, through the training and nurturing stages, followed up to the leadership stage. This is ensured by equal pay, promotion, rewards, resources and opportunities regardless of gender. We encourage removal of barriers and full participation of women in the workforce. This is achieved by focusing on mentoring and career progression efforts.
Making diversity and inclusion a part of our culture puts our business ahead of the curve. We are proud to have achieved and maintained an equal balance in our workforce, whether in the legal teams or the non-legal teams as well as at our leadership roles. A representation of our workforce by gender, which is a perfect figure, is as follows:
Legal and Non-Legal Teams
While our non-legal teams have a strength of 32% female members, our legal teams have a commendable strength of 61% female members.
We believe change starts at the very grass root level. So, we begin the efforts right at the hiring stage. We conduct on-campus hirings and offer internships and assessments across cities, universities and specializations all through the year. We conduct blind screening of résumés and have diverse interview panels. We have conducted several recruitment outreach initiatives for a more diverse talent pools.
Our leaders represent our value system. The importance we place on gender equality is seen clearly in the leaders at the firm. We have placed great importance on having women leaders and more women in leadership roles and are proud that we have a greater percentage of women at the top. Focusing specifically on our leadership team has helped us in facilitating a top-down approach, so that it trickles through our entire firm and it is quite evident as 52% of our leaders are women.
Team Leads at SSR (Legal)
Equal Reward and Opportunity
The firm believes in providing pay, promotion, rewards, resources and opportunities regardless of the gender.
We endeavor to maintain an equality in our payouts and close any pay gaps that may have existed, through hiring at the defined benchmarked pay and equal training and mentoring resulting in uniform growth and opportunities. We are pleased to have almost closed the gap in this regard through our constant efforts.
We have always strived towards achieving a work environment that acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of all members. The numbers speak of our endeavour to avoid any pay gaps by way of trainings, growth and increments.
We have ensured that the dedication and commitment of all members is rewarded. The numbers speak of our effort to provide career growth in different specializations. We ensure openness and transparency and practice merit-based opportunities in career progression processes. In the present year, partner promotions have been done for one female and one male member.
Since a great amount of training and mentoring is done for each of our members and every member is a valuable asset, employee retention is a necessity, which we attempt to achieve by concentrating on employee engagement and encouragement through setting of goals and expectations, performance of relevant work and communication of feedback and worth. Providing members with relevant trainings and resources, guidance and review and respect and recognition go a long way. While unfortunate, a balance has to be maintained in the attrition of employees.
We seek a cohesive work environment which requires a healthy reporting structure amongst teams. A representation of our leadership reporting relationship by gender is as follows:
As mothers, women are skilled at time management, communication, people management, problem solving and organizational skills, which is exactly what is a leader should be adept at. It is not surprising that 1/3rd of our leaders are mothers.
Mentoring and Career Progression: WoMentorship
The firm has introduced a women’s leadership development program, developed in-house, for training, mentoring, guiding and drawing a career path for its women members with a view to create capable women leaders of the future.
Under the WoMentorship program, all female members in the junior and mid-level will be counselled by their designated senior guide. The guide will counsel their protégé with respect to the specialization they are pursuing, opportunities that can be availed and the future endeavours that they can work towards, which will benefit their overall development and aid them in achieving their career goals.
The program would include brainstorming sessions, training plans, review meetings inter-department rotations, one-on-ones with the partners, coaching circles, amongst others.
All new members of the firm are integrated in the system seamlessly by way of the Buddy program, wherein each new member is assigned a buddy to provide any assistance required, help them ease into the working structure and feel like a part of the team.
The firm has in place an active POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at work) Committee and Policy, for the benefit of its women members, which is fairly reconstituted annually. The firm also conducts trainings for its members on a regular basis.
The firm believes in embracing all groups in its workforce and providing a work security and stability. We are of the opinion that acceptance of different ages in the workplace benefits the firm from a variety of experiences, views and perspectives, enabling innovation and improvements. The firm has a stable and dynamic environment with a balance in conventional and contemporary practices and traditional and modern thought processes.
At the firm, we respect a person’s choices and continually strive to ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts include all members, with an aim to make the workplace a safe space, devoid of any discrimination or harassment. We celebrate our members and their life choices with pride.
The firm supports the cause by way of awareness and sensitization sessions and contributions to the community on a regular basis.
Inclusivity and diversity focuses on the equality, dignity and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community. And, this gives the firm a small opportunity to champion diversity and inclusion. Focusing on Pride without any Prejudice, we look to empower those within our community to have a voice and open discussions regarding diversity and inclusion. As allies, we have created a safe space to speak openly and be free. Here’s what our Associate Partners have to say about Pride:
Gender Fluidity / Non-Conformity
At the firm, we respect a person’s gender expression and identity. We understand the need for a shift in the way we think about gender and are working towards enabling and equipping ourselves with the understanding to support gender fluid / non-conforming members.
We have transitioned from gender specific to gender neutral terms across our systems and in-house platforms and are constantly trying to identify any remaining references that can be bettered. We also encourage information and usage of appropriate pronouns.
People with Disabilities
At the firm, we have always believed and practiced providing equal opportunity to all members, irrespective of any challenges they face, whether visible or invisible. We ensure that we provide them with equal opportunities to learn, succeed, be compensated fairly, and advance.
Social, Economic and Cultural Backgrounds
India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world. We endeavor to make all communities a part of the firm, which is why we have representation from each and every corner of the country. At the firm, the people come from different social, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”
– Winston Churchil
“Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.”
– George Dei
Holistic Well-Being: YogaIndia is a mosaic of cultures and we are immensely proud of our rich cultural heritage. At the firm, many of us are Yoga practitioners and believe that Yoga as a part of our lives has helped us focus our energies in the right direction. It has been the most effective tool for stress busting and management. We regularly conduct Yoga sessions and retreats for our members to promote a holistic well-being, for the mind, body and soul.
Benefits and Welfare
Since we regard adding to the culture more significant than fitting in the culture, employee well-being is of utmost importance. Keeping this in mind, numerous policies have been adopted and provisions made that can be availed to the advantage of our members, for their benefit. A few are as follows:
- Provision of flexible / remote work arrangements for members with such needs or requests
- Provision of leaves and other leeways to pursue education / sports while working or medical emergencies
- Provision of working arrangements to support mothers’ transition back to work from maternity leave
- Provision of mandatory paternity leave
- Creating spaces within the office for medical / nursing purposes
- Provision of bereavement and celebratory leaves
- Implementing a strict 5-day work week with focus on time-bound working
- Embracing married partners / spouses at workplace
- Absorbing of family members into the system (especially at the time of Covid)
- Creation of employee resource group / engagement committees such as the Employee Engagement, Sports, Green Policy, Workplace Safety, Newsletter, IP4Kids, CSR etc.
- Conducting regular employee trainings, feedbacks and surveys to on attitudes and satisfaction
- Embracing casual dress code where possible
The Road Ahead
Meeting people where they are and walking together forward is a beautiful thought. To put that into action, we have the following on our to–do list:
- Formulating a LeadershIP policy to form mentor-mentee program for the counselling of younger generation of lawyers by the core leadership team.
- Establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Council with goals, internal reporting and review.
- Appointing a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and conducting more D&I brainstorming sessions for leaders in unconscious bias and active listening.
- Encouraging more trust, courage and empathy through open dialogue to promote mental health at work.
Our firm is constantly evolving, and diversity and inclusion are among the most important forces driving the evolution and reinvention. Our commitment comes from our conviction that reaching a critical mass of women and underrepresented minorities in our workforce bring ample benefits. These go far beyond the professional benefits to the firm – which are many – to include the entire legal fraternity and our wider communities beyond. It requires ensuring that all members are, and feel, free to bring their full selves to work, offer their true and unguarded perspectives, and find a welcoming and inviting place for those ideas. True change is made through both diversity and inclusion. Together, these concepts are transforming and defining our culture and how we all work together at S.S. Rana & Co. True inclusion is about embracing difference.
We as a firm believe that government laws, regulations and business practices should uphold the principles of equity and equality and that no one should be discriminated against because of their differences, such as age, ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion or sexual orientation. We remain committed to an inclusive and diverse workplace.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.”
*The data is inclusive of legal and non-legal departments.
**No member has identified as any other gender apart from female or male.
*** As of May 2022.