Women first

By Sabin Agha
Tue, 08, 23

This week You! is in conversation with an accomplished woman in a leadership role, Samia Qamar, who is passionate about elevating the roles of employees, especially women, focusing on inclusivity and diversity…

Women first


In the ever-evolving landscape of business, where success is shaped by the hands of talent and innovation, it is not possible without the visionary behind high-performing teams and thriving organisational cultures. One such visionary being Samia Qamar, Director of People at S&P Global, Pakistan. She possesses an extensive background spanning over 12 years in the field of Human Resources across multinational corporations encompassing various industries, including Healthcare, Management Consultancy, Hospitality, and Financial Services. In her most recent capacity, she serves as a reliable global business partner, dedicated to propelling the advancement of people-focused initiatives. The organisation she works at, recently introduced an initiative called ‘People First’ philosophy which embodies a dedicated pledge to prioritise its employees, especially females, guiding with compassion and understanding.

Women first

Samia’s core mission involves cultivating enriching work environments by offering guidance to leaders on fostering engagement, overseeing high-performance teams. In recognition of her contributions to the community, she was honoured with the title of Global Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan.

In this exclusive interview with You! Samia Qamar speaks passionately about the organisation’s transition from People 1.0 to People 10.0, their role in drafting policies for change, with special consideration to inclusivity and diversity, peoples’ contributions, and organisation’s learnings…

You! How instrumental is your role as a Director of People?

Samia Qamar: What anchors the company is the idea of putting people first. Our people are at the foundation of our business; they make the innovative and forward-thinking place that it is. My role, along with that of the larger purpose team, is to continue working with leaders here - coaching them, making sure that we are internalising the culture, managing the performance of the talent, as well as working on strategies to retain them. Our ‘People’s Services Team’ looks at different policies. We continue to work towards strategic initiatives for the entire country. We came up with another strategic initiative last year, which is #Inclusion. We brought in our first cohort of interns for people with disabilities and then trans people as well. We have successfully inducted 13 people into the initial cohort.

You! Your approach to women who have taken a career break is commendable. How has it encouraged women to re-join their career?

SQ: Back in 2013, when I joined as Head of Employee Relations, our female representation was quite low. We have definitely evolved, and our culture has transformed. We took a pledge that we were going to bring in more women into the workforce, so that’s where we started. At that time, we had a dedicated resource group aimed at enhancing the leadership roles of women and focusing on increasing their representation.

Today, we have 29 per cent female representation in our workforce, as opposed to 9 per cent in 2013. We have welcomed women from all walks of life, whether they were at the entry level, looking for other roles, or wanting to re-join after a break. We have a dedicated Employee Resource Group in our Parental Programme that is working very closely on devising a strategy for the transition of these women. Once they are through their 26-week parental leave and want to re-enter the workforce, the resource group ensures their productivity plan at the workplace. In 2019, Mujeeb Zahur, our Managing Director, took another pledge to mentor 20,000 girls and women across Pakistan. And we have accomplished the milestone of 17,000 mentoring relationships.

Women first

You! Can you describe your role in the different programmes initiated at the organisation?

SQ: Our ‘People First’ policy is a testament to our constant evolution and adaptation to the needs of our people. Our digital health platform provides 24/7 access as well as free, a one-on-one virtual appointment with experts specialising in pregnancy, postpartum care, lactation support, infant sleep coaching, return-to-work coaching, and loss partner support. Our ‘Global Parental Leave’ policy now provides for Global Compassion Leave, offering paid leave for parents following a pregnancy loss. Similarly, under our Cancer Support Programme, we secure the salary of any employee unable to work due to a diagnosis of cancer or other chronic disease or serious illness for up to one year, so they can stay focused on their treatment and recovery.

You! What are ‘Wellness Rooms’ and how did you come up with the idea?

SQ: An important feature of People 10.0 is Prayer, Contemplation, and Wellness Rooms. I understand that we need to support colleagues with diverse beliefs and practises. As a people-first organisation, all colleagues should feel respected, celebrated, and valued. We also provide temperature-controlled rooms, special curtains, and even lactation pumps for feeding mothers.

You! How do you ensure that the values of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity) are maintained?

SQ: I believe that diversity fuels creative insights, equity unlocks opportunity, and inclusion drives growth to power the markets of the future. Our commitment centres on our global workforce, ensuring that our people are empowered to bring their whole selves to work – but it doesn’t stop there. We strive to better reflect and serve the communities in which we live and work and advocate for greater opportunity for all.

You! How is the organisation contributing to leadership building in Pakistan?

SQ: We have a diverse network of mentors, which has contributed a lot. We don’t just hire people; we give them a platform where they are able to make a suitable choice. Secondly, taking responsibility for their placement of work assignments in reserve projects for Pakistan and to increase divisional diversity, our people are coming from various fields and working together to achieve our goal, which also includes leadership development for women.

The writer is a freelance journalist and a producer.