Bacardi driving a gender diverse and inclusive work culture in the alco-bev industry

Bacardi driving a gender diverse and inclusive work culture in the alco-bev industry

India Inc is well on its way to change the dynamics, with companies like Bacardi leading the way.

Zeenah Vilcassim, Marketing Director, Bacardi India (Left) and Radhika Maheshwari, Director of Finance, Bacardi India (Right) Zeenah Vilcassim, Marketing Director, Bacardi India (Left) and Radhika Maheshwari, Director of Finance, Bacardi India (Right)

Discussions around gender diversity and inclusivity at the workplace have been gaining momentum across industries, globally and in India, in recent years. We need to continue building on the conversations until such a workforce becomes the norm across the world. India Inc is well on its way to change the dynamics, with companies like Bacardi leading the way.

The 2020 Working Mother & Avtar Best Companies for Women in India report states that the total spends on gender diversity by Indian companies increased from 23% in 2016 to 32% in 2019. The percentage of women hires, it reveals, rose to 37% in 2020 from 31% in 2016. Studies have already shown the various benefits of building and nurturing such a workforce. A McKinsey report, for example, finds that businesses that are gender diverse are 25% more likely to clock in above-average profitability. Bacardi is one such company that is fostering gender diversity, inclusivity and enabling all Primos (meaning ‘cousins’ in Spanish, Bacardi’s way of referring to team members) to unleash their true potential.
Sanjit Randhawa, Managing Director, Bacardi, says, “As one of the leaders in the alco-bev space, we are not only committed to ensuring gender diversity and inclusivity within our company, but also across the industry. To ensure sustained progress, we have made it a part of our strategy for growth at Bacardi. All our Primos across roles are deeply invested in building a dynamic, diverse and inclusive work environment where all employees can excel and grow in their careers. We have ambitious goals to continue integrating these changes thoroughly within our company, the industry and the workforce on the whole.”

Sanjit Randhawa, Managing Director, India & South East Asia, Bacardi

A 360-degree approach

To make gender diversity and inclusivity a core pillar, Bacardi has created a 360-degree approach that encompasses various initiatives and programs. Sanjit says, “We’ve focused on building an ecosystem that instills ownership and accountability among all Primos at Bacardi.” As a company, Bacardi believes in creating a culture where everyone has a say and encourages all its employees to voice their ideas and opinions. Arijit Sengupta, the HR Head of India and Neighbouring Countries, says, “At Bacardi, we believe in creating equal opportunities for all our Primos across departments and functions. We are always striving to give our Primos the right platform to shine, irrespective of gender. We are resolute in stirring up the age-old gender dynamics at work by creating a workspace where Primas can thrive in their job roles.”

Arijit Sengupta, HR Head, India and Neighbouring Countries, Bacardi

To increase the brand’s diversity ratio, Bacardi has put in place a range of talent acquisition and development initiatives. It prepares individual development plans for key talents and moulds them for succession in important roles. Bacardi also conducts industry talent mapping to track key women performers in the industry. Radhika Maheshwari, Director of Finance at Bacardi India says, “Bacardi has built a workforce where women feel included, championed, and empowered to voice their opinions and chart their journeys in the organization. There are a host of policies to help women progress in their career with ease like childcare support, flexible working hours, and safe work commute, to name a few.”

Empowering women leaders

An integral part of Bacardi’s 360-degree approach is the Women in Leadership program that is focused on creating women leaders of today and tomorrow. The program includes various initiatives like formal mentoring programs, personal and professional development activities, networking opportunities and programs to empower employees in a winning work environment. It furthers Bacardi’s inherent belief that immense value can be created when a diverse, inclusive community and workspace are brought together.

Bacardi’s women leaders are pushing the boundaries and charting an exciting course for the company. Zeenah Vilcassim, Marketing Director of Bacardi India, who has spearheaded the marketing of three award-winning innovations, is among them. Before joining the India team, Zeenah was working as the Global Brand Director in London for Dewar’s. “Over the last four years at Bacardi, I’ve learned a lot, both personally and professionally, from my peers. It’s inspiring to see our Primas excel in their fields whilst being their authentic selves. Bacardi’s Women in Leadership program is a great catalyst for change by empowering not just women, but all our employees, to unlock their true potential,” says Zeenah.

The program includes formal mentoring where Primas are paired with experienced women leaders from different regions, markets and functions to facilitate greater exposure and learning. Radhika says, “The Women in Leadership program is driven by women from various functions and job roles with strong support from the leadership team. When I had joined Bacardi’s Finance team, I was the only other woman in the department.” Despite being a clear minority, she never came across any bias or barriers to her growth.

“From marketing to finance to innovations, Primas today are playing an integral role across various functions in Bacardi. We have exceptional women leaders spearheading Bacardi’s growth, including Anmol Gill, Head of Customer Marketing; Ayaesha Gooptu, Head of Innovations; Sameeksha  Uniyal, Brand Manager; Ekta Hussain, Trade Marketing Manager – South; Khushboo Verma, State Head; Angira Mitra, Trade Marketing Manager, LHA and many more,” says Sanjit.
Heading Innovation across four clusters, Ayaesha Gooptu is the driving force behind Bacardi’s innovative products and launches. She creates new categories, products and brands from scratch and helps build the future pipeline of innovations. Ayaesha believes the mentorship program in Bacardi has helped progress her career and motivated her to take risks. She is also a part of the Women in Leadership’s core team and works toward ensuring that women at Bacardi are supported and encouraged to build their careers. Like Ayaesha, Angira too credits the Leadership program for her success. Angira, who handles a complex territory in terms of business and scope, says she learnt to be fearless from the strong women leaders at Bacardi.

Bacardi has been breaking stereotypes and scripting its own narrative in a male-dominated alco-bev industry for years and will continue creating equal opportunities. Radhika says, “We have programs for female graduates who wish to pursue a career in this space as well as initiatives to support the female bartender community.” Every year, the company is pushing the narrative on gender diversity further by increasing its efforts to create an equal, balanced and thriving workspace.