Equitas Development Initiative Trust (EDIT), a public charitable trust established by Equitas Small Finance Bank Ltd, focuses on imparting high-quality and affordable education to children from underprivileged families.

It has grown from two schools in 2010 to eight; 5,700 students are enrolled in Equitas Gurukul Matriculation Schools in Tamil Nadu. S. Muralidharan, chief people officer at Equitas, talks about his experiences with the people of the organization and what it means to be a great workplace. Edited excerpts:

How important are people to Equitas Development Initiative Trust?

Our people—the teachers—are the ones who provide the holistic education to the children that we constantly talk about. Whatever we plan, design and conceptualize, they are the ones who ultimately deliver and since they carry our mission and vision forward to the next level, the teachers are the most important aspect of our trust.

What methods do you implement to resolve employee issues at the workplace?

There are three important policies: the grievance redressal policy, whistle blower policy and prevention of sexual harassment policy. Any grievances are raised to the immediate boss. If it doesn’t get addressed, then it is taken up to the second-level supervisor, the functional head, the HR head and finally to the managing director of the company, P.N. Vasudevan.

As per the whistle blower policy, employees would directly write their complaint to the managing director and it is investigated completely in a confidential manner.

Another important policy...is the prevention of sexual harassment policy and senior women employees, along with an external person, who is well aware of the policy, are part of the committee (that looks into complaints).

What are your personal experiences with people?

Initially when we started, I found that many teachers lacked English proficiency because many of them had a Tamil medium school education. But they quickly picked it up through the various training programmes that were offered. Over a period of time, I realized that the kind of motivation the teachers bring in...makes a difference to the children.

Have you been conscious about the gender ratio and does it reflect in 90% of your employees being women?

To be honest, the gender ratio is defined more by the context...not that we have a number in mind. Of course, subject expertise is more important than the gender factor. However, for smaller classes, we thought it will be better to have women teachers to nurture the children.

What is your people philosophy that makes it different from others?

We nurture and empower our people who demonstrate honesty and high performance in a fair and transparent environment.

This is our people mission statement and we follow it keenly.

What does it mean to be a great workplace?

It always feels nice when your employees give a good feedback. It gives satisfaction that you are taking care of them well. We also see it as an opportunity for us to continuously improve our people practices so that we truly remain a great place to work.