Italian casualwear company Benetton Group SpA’s Indian unit, best known for the clothing and accessories it sells under the United Colors of Benetton brand, says it likes to provide an open and collaborative environment to its employees.

Benettonians, as they are referred as, are screened not just on expertise but also whether they fit in with the company’s core values of entrepreneurship, collaboration and creativity.

“Apart from expertise required for a particular role, we look for two key attributes—attitude and approach towards work. I believe with the right attitude, a lot can be achieved," said Sundeep Chugh, chief executive, Benetton India.

With 333 people, Benetton India is based in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi. The fashion retail chain has been vocal about gender equality and women’s empowerment and prides itself on a diverse workforce which goes beyond the narrow purview of gender.

“We hire people from different cultural and educational backgrounds. For instance, in case of a marketing profile, I look to hire people from electronics, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) or even banking background where they have handled different sets of challenges and complexities," said Vivek Mukherjee, head of human resources, Benetton India.

The Italian fashion firm, which entered the Indian market in 1992, operates 791 outlets in 181 cities in the country.

It sells a variety of apparel, shoes and accessories for men, women and children through two key brands—United Colors of Benetton and Undercolors of Benetton. India is one of the top five markets by revenue for Benetton outside Italy. One of the challenges that Benetton India faces is recognizing and rewarding its sales workforce employed in stores across the country. The company leverages technology to cut across the geographical boundaries to reach out to people and focus on instant recognition. It has created an internal online platform called ‘Benetton Connect’ where employees are appreciated and their contribution is recognized.

“It is almost like a Facebook wall of a user where one can post comments, notes, etc," said Mukherjee. The company runs a closed Facebook group called ‘My Benetton, My Passion’ where every small and big achievement is celebrated. Under the United Stars of Benetton award, every quarter, employees are rewarded not just for achieving targets but also demonstrating values such as entrepreneurial spirit, passion and a collaborative approach.

Benetton has a set of retail awards to show its appreciation to employees working across outlets in different cities; the management sends personalized notes to the employees with financial rewards ranging from Rs1,500 to Rs25,000.

Besides work, employees’ loyalty to the organization is also recognized and rewarded. Starting from the completion of the first year, landmarks like three, five, 10, 15 and 25 years of service are recognised and rewarded.

“Our CEO (Sundeep Chugh) has been with us for the last five years. Aman Khanna, senior vice president—outlet business and IT (information technology) director Arun Kumar have been with company for more than two decades. Most of the company’s leadership has been with us for 8 to 10 years," said Mukherjee.

With a strong leadership and a dedicated workforce, the company has been growing at a 15% compound annual growth rate for the last five years. Benetton India is targeting Rs1,900 crore in revenue with footwear, inner-wear and active wear being the key growth drivers. The firm also plans to add 75 new outlets this year.

Benetton has been committed to the cause of gender equality and women’s empowerment through its communication campaigns and collaborations with non-profit organizations.

It has been associated with Project Nanhi Kali, an initiative that supports the education of underprivileged girls. It currently supports the education of over 115,000 underprivileged girl children across India. The company has won multiple accolades including Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity 2015-16, Golden Globe Tiger Award 2017 for social media marketing and best practices award 2017 given by human resources consulting firm Randstad India.