There is an increased focus from corporates towards getting more women into technology to help them to thrive: Lalitha Ramani, Myntra
Lalitha Ramani, Chief Product Officer, Myntra tells Express Computer that the e-commerce giant has enabled an inclusive environment for women workforce to grow and thrive at every level- starting from diverse hiring, to sustained learning, coaching and development interventions and finally to inclusive work policies for facilitating a supporting environment. Excerpts:
How do you see women in technology progressing ahead in India in the current times?
These are interesting times we live in. I believe that India presents a vast opportunity for women, particularly in tech, to contribute and make a career in many domains. The current pandemic situation has further democratised this by providing a sort of level playing field by bringing working-from-anywhere more mainstream. Further, the increased ecommerce and digitisation trend has given an opportunity to include people with diverse thoughts and backgrounds who bring in creativity and well-rounded perspectives to address the paradigm shifts.
The challenge for women in technology, especially in India, has not been so much at the education-level or the starting point in their careers, but more in sustaining that representation at the mid and senior levels of management.
Progressive organisations like Myntra are taking this challenge head on and addressing this with various growth and development interventions, including Women Leadership Development programs, Speed Mentoring sessions and Sponsorship Programs to shape women to take roles right upto the senior leadership levels. Above all there is sensitisation across all employees and a clear realisation of what women bring to the table and their importance in the workforce.
We also provide necessary support through policies and programs for women who aspire to learn, innovate and grow.
How have you been able to strengthen Myntra’s product proposition through technology and innovation to cater to the needs of your consumers?
At Myntra, our mission is to democratise fashion through the use of technology while offering a superlative customer experience.
Myntra is today, the go-to fashion and lifestyle destination for millions of consumers and the platform of choice for global and domestic fashion brands. Our objective is to offer the best experience to shoppers across the country, while enabling growth for our brand partners, who hail from India and abroad.
We want to go stronger on the path of being the source of inspiration to our customers, be it engagement, learning about the latest fashion trends, dressing up tips, or makeup. Our idea is to understand our customers’ and partners’ needs and cater to their aspirations at scale and or that we are leveraging the latest technology to build strong relationships with them. For instance, we use deep personalisation to understand the intent of our customers and tailor their experiences. We provide detailed videos and content for giving accurate information on an article and how to use it to create a top-to-toe look, using AI to give customer-specific size and fit recommendations, giving them confidence about the product they are purchasing. We use tech to provide our customers a seamless and frictionless shopping experience and engaging content at all points of their purchase journey on any device of their choice – Android app, iOS app, mobile website or desktop.
In addition, we also provide customers an enjoyable post-purchase experience with respect to exchanges, returns and care of the products. For instance, we recently introduced Style Exchange after realizing that a majority of customers buy another product on Myntra within five days of returning a product – so now they can effortlessly receive an exchange of a different item when returning any item, minimising their wait time and number of transactions.
Ultimately, our goal is to delight all the fashion-forward consumers across India, by giving them access to world-class brands and products and also educate and inspire them on fashion and lifestyle.
Can you explain in detail about your recent experiments with emerging technologies to boost the firm’s business?
Amazing customer experiences are constantly moving targets for brands and organisations to chase in this VUCA world where customer expectations are rapidly evolving. We are using product and tech to fuel our business aspirations while we exceed customer expectations, as we continue to innovate and converge seamless online-offline experiences. Myntra is one of the first players to deploy omnichannel technology at scale and it has taken a lot of experimentation over the last 18 months to help our store partners thrive in this pandemic, fast-changing world. This has been extremely well-received during the lockdown time, since brands were finding it difficult to reach customers, and vice-versa.
How do you intend to promote gender diversity and inclusion in the technology domain?
There is no silver bullet to solve gender diversity and inclusion issues, we as a society, currently face, but we are on the right path. At the base level, we already see stereotypes being broken in the tech industry. This is happening by inculcating a gender-agnostic mindset in young women, for example, their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Also, there is an increased focus and concentrated effort from corporates towards getting more women into technology and helping them to thrive in their careers.
At Myntra, we enable an inclusive environment for our women workforce to grow and thrive at every level – starting from diverse hiring, to sustained learning, coaching and development interventions and finally to inclusive work policies for facilitating a supporting environment. We also provide many platforms for giving women and their work, visibility, while also creating conscious opportunities to network. With a clear focus on our goal to create a great place to work, centred around inclusivity and meritocracy, as we accelerate towards greater democratisation of fashion in the country, we see women as an integral part of what we do and achieve.
We are also constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to create a better balance across functions. There is no one-size-fits all approach to helping women grow at all career phases and life stages. At Myntra, we understand this and hence have customised learning and development programs. I personally am passionate and committed to be a champion, not only for gender diversity and inclusion in the product management domain, but for a host of other functions such as product engineering, user experience, cataloguing among others.
How does Myntra plan to increase the share of women executives within the company in the near future to create a positive impact in the society?
We strive to invest in creating a strong pipeline of talented women. Firstly, we have made bold commitments and have amped up our focused efforts for diversity hiring for each function. Next, we strive to offer right opportunities and roles that are an optimal fit to their skills and pertinent to their aspirations. We then work towards the right kind of mentorship programs and development opportunities for women leaders in the company, to thrive and grow. We are working hard to enable our women workforce with well-thought through policies including some industry-leading initiatives to provide more flexibility and an optimal environment, such as motherhood and beyond program, infrastructural support and flexible work arrangements.
The thought is, if we are able to help women sustain through their biggest challenges and make it easy for them to stay and grow in the workforce, we will be able to bridge the gap at the leadership level.