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Vijay Sitlani: A valuable insight into Diversity & Inclusion at P&G

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Vijay Sitlani and I was born in India. I lived there for 25 years (in the closet). I moved to Singapore in 2000, and lived there until 2011 (closeted at work / met my partner in Singapore). We moved to Switzerland in 2011, which is where I came out, and then to London in 2016, where I started actively sponsoring LGBT inclusion. I currently live with my partner of 16 years.

What inspired you to apply for this role/this company?

I had heard about the reputation of the company as a very employee-oriented company offering long careers and reputed brands.

What is your role and how long have you been at P&G?

Finance Director UK & Nordic. I have been at P&G 20 years.

What would a ‘normal’ day look like for someone in your role?

I oversee 4 aspects of financial leadership for P&G in Northern Europe:

  1. Brand financial planning & analysis (to enable sound financial decisions)
  2. Retailer business development finance (to ensure our retailers grow along with us)
  3. Corporate Finance & Governance (Stewardship, Legal entity Governance, Part Controllership, Brexit, GDPR)
  4. Organization management (50 people strong organization – responsible for hiring, coaching, retention and bring our their best)

What do you find most interesting with the sector/industry you’re in?

Fast moving consumer goods offers me an insight into consumer lives, retail pressures, economic impacts and the power of innovation which is unique to FMCG.

We serve diverse consumers across the world and have no choice but to embrace inclusivity from the get-go to survive in what we do.

What is the company culture like?

P&G has a culture that really enables people to be their authentic self at work.  From day one, people are encouraged to be open and inclusive. We know the impact on the business of having high performing diverse team. The real power comes when we truly harness the rich tapestry of backgrounds, experience, skills and styles. This culture enables us to continue our ‘promote from within’ approach to developing future leaders as we unlock each individuals’ potential by enabling them to feel valued and included within the organisation.

How important is diversity to you and what is P&G doing in this space at the moment?

To be welcomed whole heartedly into the various P&G locations that I have worked has been so important to me throughout my career. The broad diversity of the people that I have come across at P&G has enriched me personally, giving me different perspective and insights that have enabled me to be a more empathetic and understanding leader. At P&G, living and breathing our D&I strategy is fundamental to the way we do business. As a company that touches the lives of over 5 billion people across the globe, its essential that we reflect the diversity of our audience, both inside and outside our organization. Our mission is to ensure everyone feels valued, respected, included and able to bring their full selves to work every day, without fear of bias. We know that when people feel they have to hide who they are or do not feel fully supported, they simply cannot perform at their best.

What is P&G doing to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the firm and how does that integrate with the firm’s wider diversity initiatives?

At P&G, we fully embrace the notion of bringing 100% of who you are, both professionally and personally, to work every day.  We know that when people feel comfortable in their environment, their ideas can make a lasting impact on each other, on our customers, and on our family of brands.  To promote LGBTQ+ inclusion we have a globally recognized affinity group, with a goal of creating an inclusive environment where LGBT employees feel valued, accepted, and able to perform at their peak.

Our commitment to our LGBT colleagues and consumers is felt and supported internally and externally.  You’ll find us taking a stand for equality, marching as an LGBT community alongside our P&G Allies, supporters, and teammates.  We take pride in standing together for what we believe is fair and know that our employees reflect the fantastic diversity of background, thought, and preference of our customers.  We bring this commitment to stand for fairness through our brands too.  This Pride we used our Fairy FAIR campaign, promoting equality for the LGBTQ+ community, by supporting AKT charity through one of our heritage brands Fairy, as our Corporate identity too – marching together with our FAIR t-shirts to make our message visible.

What resources do you have at your firm to support the LGBTQ+ community?

Our commitment to supporting our LGBTQ+ colleagues has deep roots. Through our LGBTQ+ affinity group, established in 1996, we work hard to shine light on the inclusivity and support for one another that truly makes P&G a special place to work. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and we’re proud to welcome humans of all backgrounds. From day one, the tone is set for inclusion, through training on ‘how to be an ally’ to welcoming external guest speakers that share their own experiences with employees, we are constantly on a journey to promote understanding, acceptance, inclusion and support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues. We are partners with key external organisations such as Stonewall, with whom we work with to ensure we continue to drive inclusivity for LGBTQ+ employees through inclusive policies and practices.

As we are aware, our identity is more than just our gender and sexual orientation. Can you share more about what P&G is doing to acknowledge the intersectionality of identities?

We have worked hard to cultivate a culture where everyone feels valued, included and able to bring their whole selves to work. Our intent is to focus on the whole person feeling included as part of our organisation, vs identifying differences that pigeon hole people into separate groups.  We do this by encouraging a learning environment where we use our own rich tapestry of a wide range of backgrounds and experiences (eg, ages, cultures, disabilities and sexual orientations) to discover how to get the best from each other.

What was the single most important thing you’ve learnt while working at P&G?

Professionalism, valuing people and their contributions, the power of diversity, the power of running a business with purpose, values and strong principles

Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at P&G.

If you are a passionate individual who wants to feel valued for all the qualities that you can bring to the organisation, in a place that allows you to be yourself and have real responsibilities from day one – then apply now because you are the type of person we are looking for.