Unleashing The Power of Employee Networks: Insights from Tata Consultancy Services UK & Ireland
As part of the 2022 Top Employers Institute’s Best Practices Week, I had the privilege of discussing employee networks with Anshoo Kapoor, Head Recruiter, and Ieva Jankelaityte, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead at Tata Consultancy Services UK & Ireland (TCS), a certified Top Employer.
Recognising the often untapped potential of employee networks, TCS made a strategic decision to establish formal networks. The goal was to facilitate connections between employees and leverage the collective resources of these groups. By nurturing existing relationships, TCS aimed to harness their positive influence within the company, the community, and the lives of the individuals involved.
Here are some of the key insights shared during our engaging conversation.
The Power of Employee Networks
We started by discussing TCS’s motivation to bring all the employee networks under one umbrella and create the Networks of Networks. Anshoo explained, “Employee networks are nothing new. We all have them. What we’re really trying to do is create exponential value.” She explained that by formally bringing employee networks together they could learn from each other, pool resources, and have a significant collective impact on the company.
At TCS, each network has defined roles to provide structure: a business sponsor, network chair, and council members. The business sponsor offers strategic guidance and advocates for the network’s initiatives. Network chairs oversee the agenda, often driven by their passion for a specific cause. These positions rotate every couple of years to help foster fresh perspectives and broaden participation. The council serves as a crucial bridge, bringing together business and employee networks. Each business unit nominates a senior leader to join the council, enabling seamless communication between the networks and various company departments.
Collaboration between the networks and the company at large extends beyond the council. “Two-way communication is very important with employee networks,” Ieva explained, “For our decision-making process – whether it’s policies or practices – we come to our employee networks and ask for their feedback. Sometimes the networks even approach us asking if certain practices can be reviewed.” This approach ensures that TCS benefits from the valuable insights and perspectives of its employee networks, cultivating a culture of continuous improvement.
Building Bridges for Inclusion
Employee networks are employee-driven, and participation is voluntary. As the programme has grown, they have discovered alignment between the networks’ goals and those of the company. Ieva described this shared mission: “With the help of our employee networks, we are trying to empower our network members to use their influence for inclusion without exception because that is essentially what we are striving for. We want to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be their full authentic selves.”
In collaboration with employees, eleven distinct networks were established, each addressing specific areas of diversity and inclusion. The networks are:
- The Hive Gender Diversity,
- QOLORS - LGBTQ+ & Allies,
- Culture Ambassadors,
- Workplace Parents,
- TCS Minds & Mental Health First Aiders,
- Learning Influencers, SME & Faculty Network,
- Maitree & Community Champions,
- UNO Parenting Club,
- BRIDGE, &
They are bringing all these groups under the unified banner of the Networks of Networks to foster allyship. Additionally, by centralising these networks, new joiners gain valuable insights into the level and nature of engagement within each group. Moreover, individuals who identify with multiple employee networks can remain connected to all groups even if they lack the time to participate in more than one.
Realising Untapped Potential
TCS greatly emphasises on cultivating a diverse workforce encompassing various backgrounds and life experiences. The recruitment process is the foundation of an individual’s relationship with the company; therefore, ensuring inclusivity from the very beginning is crucial. Anshoo elaborates, “I can say we have been on our toes trying to get the best people in. There are a lot of untapped talent pools, and the employee networks are a great reminder to ensure we are inclusive, making reasonable adjustments to ensure people of different backgrounds can come into the workforce and have the opportunity to blossom and grow.”
Employee networks serve as a critical asset in promoting diversity and helping employees feel valued and accepted. In addition to tapping into employee networks, TCS recognises the significance of considering key people segments during recruitment. Each position is carefully evaluated with these segments in mind to ensure that potential candidates from these groups are given equal consideration. The people segments TCS identified are:
- Gender diversity,
- Culture, race, & ethnicity,
- Disability, neurodiversity, & mental health, &
- Generations/age diversity.
Through establishing the Network of Networks, TCS has successfully strengthened its commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. This initiative has not only contributed to the company’s mission but has also significantly enhanced employee satisfaction. A recent survey among network participants revealed that an overwhelming 95% of respondents acknowledged the employee network’s positive impact on their professional success.