“The role of CSR is not about writing checks or putting together fun volunteering events; but integrating purpose into the core business and leveraging the organizations’ core strengths to help societal needs.”
Balaji Ganapathy, global head of CSR and chief social responsibility officer at TCS, talks about how corporate social responsibility can help hiring managers and talent leaders win the best talent. He discusses how HR leaders can prepare and adapt to the changing technology landscape.
In this edition of HR Talk, Ganapathy shares tips for effective recruitment marketing. He also puts the spotlight on the role of technology in HR and CSR to create an amazing candidate experience.
Key takeaways from our interview on why corporate social responsibility is important:
- Top tips for HR leaders to drive engagement using CSR
- Learn more about using HR tech to focus on gaining measurable results
- Key trends to follow in CSR and candidate experience in 2020 and beyond
Here’s the edited transcript from our exclusive interview with TCS’s global head of CSR and chief social responsibility officer, Balaji Ganapathy:
Balaji, tell us about your career path, your role at TCS and how you seek to drive excellence each day.
My journey to becoming an executive leader over the past two decades has been unconventional, starting from an engineer, entrepreneur to leadership development, HR leader to innovation, business partner to community leadership, change champion to global citizenship. Graduating from university, I started my career as an entrepreneur pitching ideas to companies and groups across India – including a GV – a ‘green vehicle’ fuel-cell concept car, back in the 1990s. I also explored process consulting, training and leadership development projects with corporate houses. Joining Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in a middle management HR leadership role to support our corporate learning center, my entrepreneurial spirit has helped me at every turn. As a leader I drive excellence by articulating an aspirational vision that creates value for TCS, our employees & the community, cultivating a diverse, multi-talented team of professionals, fostering a culture of innovation & shared outcomes, and being a servant leader to remove obstacles facing the team’s path. In today’s world, purpose is integral to every business and my role is to harness the best of TCS and realize our vision of large-scale societal uplift by empowering people and communities.
What’s the role of corporate social responsibility in keeping employees more engaged at work?
In my view, the top CSR trends for 2019 were the rising voice of people, ubiquitous adoption of technology and enterprises striving to be purpose centric. We live in a world where people are socially conscious and want to participate in solving some of society’s greatest challenges. Companies can enable this by helping employees fulfill their individual purpose, at and beyond the organizational boundaries. The role of CSR is not about writing checks or putting together fun volunteering events; but integrating purpose into the core business and leveraging the organizations’ core strengths to help societal needs.
At TCS, we bring together our intellectual, technology, human & financial capital to power our CSR initiatives. Being a global top employer with 450,000 highly skilled professionals, we have a vibrant culture of community service. Whether it is our flagship global CS education program – goIT, computational thinking program for U.S. educators – Ignite My Future in School or Employability program for rural students in India, employees provide much needed industry context and real-world connection by mentoring students and support educators in classrooms. Employees rise from being volunteers and mentors, to societal champions and civic leaders, actively participating in shaping the next generation of young innovators for the 21st century. We are proud that over 90% of our employees say they feel proud of contributing to society, earning us a Top 20 spot in Fortune’s ‘Best Big Companies to Work ForTM’ in 2020.
What is your top tip for HR leaders battling it out in the war for talent? How can CSR help in recruitment marketing?
While the war for talent is being played out in the labor marketplace, it is critical that companies work intentionally and more holistically to expand access and create inclusive pathways for diverse talent. For over a decade, we have been working towards this goal, along with leaders from K-12 education, higher education, government, policy makers, nonprofits and industry. Whether it is to lead efforts like Million Women Mentors to inspire young women to choose and prosper in STEM leadership roles, or students from minorities to gain 21st century skills through US2020, or connecting opportunity youth with IT credentials and tech jobs through NPower, TCS has partnered across sectors to lead systemic chance and democratize opportunity. HR leaders can play an active role in such efforts and be a part of the solution or run the risk of fighting the battle of filling more open positions than people available to fill them.
Today’s job seekers have the power of information at their fingertips and have the maturity to differentiate between greenwashing and authentic community engagement. It is here that being purpose-centric can be a big differentiator, helping engage candidates from diverse skillsets and backgrounds. For example, TCS has been one of the Top 2 employers hiring local talent in the U.S. adding over 20,000 people over the past five years. At TCS, these employees today help a vast majority of the Fortune 100 & Fortune 500 companies on their growth and transformation journey using the power of digital technologies. Many of them have grown to become societal champions and civic leaders, passionately serving their local community. They are often some of our best ambassadors, bringing others from their professional network to build successful careers at TCS.
What are top 3 ways in which HR leaders can prepare and adapt to the changing technology landscape?
1.First and foremost, HR leaders should gain knowledge of the top technology trends, develop a deep understanding of the new business models, and shape HR strategy to create value for the company & its people. At TCS, our Business 4.0 thought leadership framework defines our world view and informs HR strategy on how talent transformation powers digital transformation.
2.Secondly, HR leaders need to actively champion change; from designing new organizational structure, contextually defining roles for the future of work, building upskilling and reskilling pathways for talent transformation, and shaping the culture towards these organizational and individual outcomes. Empowering over 341,000 employees to gain digital skills & certifications enabled TCS to disrupt our own past success and lead our organization to the next era of growth.
3.Thirdly, HR leaders need to lead adoption of digital technology to disrupt their own practice. Using the power of tools such as AI, ML, Data Science, Blockchain, we can mass-personalize employee experience, power insights-driven decision making, automate repetitive tasks and deepen HR’s shift from cost-centric to value-centric.
What are the top 3 lessons in recruitment marketing you can share from your experience for budding people officers?
- I’ve always strived to build teams with diverse background and experiences, who are more talented at their craft than me. They become the best ambassadors to attract future talent to the company.
- Be authentic in your messaging, aspirational in presenting the career opportunity, and transparent in your expectation setting. This helps establish trust early on, promotes a long-term view, while being realistic in integrating and setting them up for success.
- Promote behavior that helps live your company’s values and come hard at it to solve any dissonance. You cannot sell something that doesn’t exist, so work hard to create your company culture.
What best practices does TCS follow to recruit and retain talent, while fostering a culture of meritocracy and inclusivity?
At TCS, we believe that while technologies may become legacy, people can transform to participate in new opportunities in the digital economy. Since 2016, more than 341,000 employees have gained new digital skills and certifications, through personalized offerings, synchronous & asynchronous learning, using cloud based digital learning platforms and moved into new roles. Armed with the skillset and mindset to thrive, our employees are even more committed to leading digital innovation for customers; resulting in accelerated business growth along with industry-leading retention.
We have also democratized access to talent at the entry level, through a pioneering TCS National Qualifier Test. Piloted in India, this approach vastly expands the set of students – from a few hundred colleges that we used to visit for campus placements to every college and every student in the country. As a result, in FY20 we made offers to over 30,000 students through this pioneering model and further expanded that to 39,000 for FY21. We also use gamified contests on the platform to engage the students, identify those with a strong penchant for specialized domain and technology tracks, and onboard them into different career streams.
Integrating purpose and inclusion into our employee experience has helped us foster a culture of service and belongingness. For example, every campus hire in North America has a nonprofit as their first ‘customer’ through an award-winning pro-bono tech program. Under guidance and mentorship of experienced TCS mentors, these new hires learn the TCS way by applying human-centered design and digital knowhow to help a community organization build capacity, improve user experience, create a technology roadmap or improve their digital strategy. Globally, our leadership and diversity initiatives have also helped foster a culture of inclusion across 145 nationalities, 46 markets, with 150,000+ women.
Modern recruiters aim to create an amazing candidate experience. Can you elaborate (with examples) on how TCS drives engagement with candidate experience?
Personalization and empathy are key drivers for building an experience that is tailored to the needs of the ‘segment of one’. At TCS, we are striving to build personalized experiences for different talent groups, by developing personas and a journey map with physical and digital touchpoints traversing from scouting to spotting, sourcing to selection, onboarding all the way to integration.
For campus hires, this is in the form of internships, externships, hackathons and other engagement opportunities, often using our early career employees as ambassadors who can share their own journeys with prospective hires. We also do deeper integration of community service opportunities for interns and campus hires to work with students, educators and schools in need in their local community. Our initial learning program helps new campus hires with an average of twelve weeks of professional development on technical, communication and business skills that provide an on-ramp to their first client project. For experienced hires, our engagement is also personalized through one-on-one interactions with professional and technical recruiters, who help them evaluate the career opportunity, while connecting them with leaders and peers within the company to gain a better understanding of the work environment and culture.
What has been your experience working with the various components of your HR Tech stack? What tips do you have for HR leaders investing in new HR tech?
As a global Top 3 information technology leader, TCS has made ongoing investments in designing bespoke systems and integrating COTS solutions, based on the myriad organizational needs over the years. Almost every HR leader and team interacts with our core TCS systems across the employee lifecycle including workforce planning, recruitment, onboarding, resource management, HRIS, talent development, talent management, compensation and benefits, compliance, associate experience, ethics and separations.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sponsor some exciting internal projects leveraging AI, ML, Data & Analytics, Automation & Conversational Experiences to improve employee experience, cross-functional collaboration and business partnering. My word of advice for HR leaders is to not just feel enamored by the plethora of digital tech and its ease of adoption but build for purpose. Ground yourselves on what value the innovative solution is going to create for your employees and the business. It should be the innovative solution looking for the most appropriate tech to bring it to life & not the other way around.
What trends are you tracking in recruitment marketing and the future of work for 2020?
For a three-year period, TCS worked in partnership with the World Economic Forum on the skills gap and preparing companies, countries and systems for the future of work. Based on the experience of leading that effort, I believe the ‘future of work’ is already ‘here and now’.
By 2020, 52% of current employee skills will change and companies need to systematically invest in upskilling and reskilling their workforce. Among the top 10 skills for 2020, a vast majority are non-technical skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, decision making & service orientation. These are the same skills that will build resilience among people and communities, futureproofing to help ‘human’ intelligence drive the adoption of artificial intelligence.
Purpose will be a key differentiator in people choosing which company to work for, across generations in the workforce. Companies that are more intentional about telling the story of their societal impact will organically rise to the top as the best companies to work for.
About Balaji Ganapathy
Balaji Ganapathy serves as the global head of CSR and chief social responsibility officer for TCS. In this role, his mission is to harness the power of purpose, people and technology to advance access, equity and inclusion across society. Under his stewardship, TCS has leveraged its technology, innovation, thought leadership, and a global pool of skill-based volunteers to make a significant impact on the communities in which TCS employees live and work, with a special focus on impacting women and young girls, minorities, and under-represented groups.