Edtech start-up Scaler Academy has recently introduced a new people policy of offering 12-days of ‘period leave’ to women and transgender employees. Scaler co-founder Abhimanyu Saxena told Moneycontrol that such a move will encourage diversity and inclusion at the workplace. Saxena said they have gone ahead with the initiative following a consensus in his start-up of 800 full-time staff, 33% of which are women employees. Saxena said only with more startups, and larger organisations introducing such initiatives, a workplace can convert to a platform where all the employees feel valued and heard. Edited excerpts:
Period leave is a progressive move from Scaler. What transpired before you went ahead to implement it?
We believe that for an organisation to thrive, it is crucial to make sure that the interests of all employees are equally and fairly represented. Sure, this is a progressive move, but certainly not a ground-breaking one. This only reinforces the values that we stand by as an organisation. Maintaining a work-life balance in the midst of the pandemic has not been easy. This has been especially hard for women, who are unfortunately still expected to juggle between multiple roles in their households, without much support. So, this move is only a step in the right direction towards making their lives easier in a skewed playing field.
How are women employees responding to this policy? And will this leave number go up in the future as some argue that women employees practically need more than 12 days a year?
These 12 days of period leave are provided in addition to the regularly allotted annual leaves. We at Scaler believe that only with a bottom-up approach can any initiative add value to our employees. With the collective feedback we received from our employees, we have gone ahead with the initiation of this move, with an overall consensus with this decision. Also, women and transgender employees are given the option of either applying for a full-day leave or two half-days per month, out of the total number of period leaves made available to them.
These leaves are auto-approved by managers as well, ensuring that menstruating employees are not only given the flexibility to choose their required time off from work, but also to make sure that these leaves are availed when needed, without hoarding to encash or avail for other purposes.
Do you see more start-ups adopting this initiative progressively?
This is only a small step in the right direction for any organisation that wants their menstruating employees to feel included and valued. This move is essential in encouraging greater diversity at the workplace by making the environment more inclusive for female and transgender employees. Only with more start-ups and larger organisations introducing such initiatives for their diverse body of employees, can we collectively convert our workplace into a platform where all the employees feel equally valued and heard.
Beyond this, how are you promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion?
Being aware of one’s unconscious biases and building awareness is the most fundamental step towards promoting diversity and inclusion. Only once a common ground is established among all employees, can an organisation in unison, introduce initiatives that are capable of levelling the playing field. We at Scaler believe that all are equal, but not identical. Once this is established, bringing out measures to promote inclusivity is not an uphill task. Under the POSH policy directives, we have also undertaken a program to sensitise the leadership on creating and facilitating a safe, healthy, and harassment-free workplace. It is a credit to the various employee-centric initiatives we have in place, that Scaler has managed to achieve a remarkably low attrition rate of 4% over the last two years.
What’s the workforce size at Scaler right now? Are you actively looking to recruit more women candidates to promote diversity?
Scaler increased its workforce by 3X during 2021. Currently, Scaler consists of over 800 employees. Apart from this, there are over 1,000 technology professionals who work part-time as career coaches, teaching assistants, and mentors.We at Scaler take immense pride in stating that more than 33% of our workforce are women. And this figure has seen consistent growth in recent years. This only rejuvenates our efforts into creating a workplace where all are treated with utmost respect and dignity, without any biases. We are conscious of the imbalance in the participation of women in STEM and work consistently to ensure that we are doing our bit towards reducing the divide.