Expert POV: Renuka Iyer, Chief Human Resources Officer of WRI

Posted on October 5th, 2022

We asked Renuka Iyer, Chief Human Resources of the World Resources Institute (WRI) to share her Expert Point of View on the organization’s evolution in gender balance, diversity, and inclusion, and which role those elements have in their broader sustainable agenda. Read more on how the EDGE certification journey contributed to bringing more credibility to the change inside the organization

How did the business case for gender balance DE&I evolve over the last 18 months? How did the conversation around the business case evolved / What changed / What was expanded / What is considered no longer current?

Issues relating to gender balance and inclusion are systemic and not easy to unpack. It requires intentional attention and insight to work through. Over the past 18 months, WRI has intentionally paid attention to the number of women at each level in the organization. We made significant progress for example inducting more women Board members and paying particular attention to who was getting promoted within the organization. We have made our promotions process more transparent than it has been before. We have more work to do as we think about the necessary systems and process infrastructure needed to institutionalize these changes in the longer run.

EDGE Certification brings visibility and credibility to the change happening inside the organization. At the same time, it creates the premises for diverse talent to thrive at work. Tell us some stories about how your employees benefit from the EDGE Certification journey of your organization.

Issues relating to gender disparity are often experienced in subtle ways – a passing comment when a colleague announces her maternity or an implicitly biased view about her work performance after a child – these individual events are difficult to address without the necessary systemic support structures in the form of policies, processes, and communication of them to manage perception. The EDGE certification process uniquely combines quantitative, qualitative, and policy audit data in a structured and innovative manner to find solutions that will support transformative change. As an example, at WRI we were able to change our maternity and paternity leave offerings to staff from 6 weeks and 1 week respectively to 8 weeks for all. The business case for this change was directly a function of the EDGE audit process and will have a lasting impact on WRI’s benefit offerings.

What do you think workplace gender balance, diversity and inclusion mean to the next generation (e.g., of leaders/customers / investors)?

Attention to workplace gender balance, diversity, and inclusion should be the new normal for how organizations operate.  The history of discriminatory practices informs us that they were created to benefit a few people who considered themselves powerful at that moment in time. It is now time for a world in which all people have equal access to opportunity and a fair shot at economic prosperity.

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