Richard Sutton has the same question for everyone who contacts him at Genpact, where he serves as VP and legal counsel.
“I always ask, ‘Can you give me the layman’s explanation of what you do?’” Sutton says. “We do such a wide variety of work and we’re always picking up new services, so I always have to ask. It’s a way that helps me provide better service.”
The global professional services firm has more than a hundred thousand employees worldwide, so it’s a question Sutton has had to ask often since joining Genpact in 2007. But it’s also what has kept him at the organization for fourteen-plus years. The work is never the same.
“One of the things I enjoy most is the variety of people that I get to work with on a daily basis,” Sutton explains. “In terms of both geography as well as the types of work they’re doing, I may be speaking to someone performing accounting work one minute, a PhD in computer science the next, and a high-level engineer after that, and they could be located anywhere in the world.”
Sutton says that since coming to Genpact, he’s not only seen the organization change dramatically in size, but he’s also seen the focus on the work of his organization shift from providing people-oriented solutions to fully embrace areas like digital solutions and AI.
The variety of work has also offered Sutton the chance to examine the laws of numerous countries and jurisdictions. His working knowledge of British and Japanese law has become strong, he says, and his aptitude for South African law is coming along. But employment law is never static—and that’s the way Sutton likes it.
“A lot of basic US employment law protections are fairly bare-bones documents,” he says. “Every time a judge interprets a law in a different way, the laws change. In a sense, it’s like surfing. You’re trying to stay up on the board, but the water below you is changing all the time.”
Case in point: There’s perhaps no better example of employment law shifting as “fast and furiously” (as Sutton describes it) than the ever-changing COVID-19 protocols. With two different presidential administrations, federal mandates, individual states challenging those mandates, and new information rolling out all the time, the only constant is change.
“Every day, we’re getting a barrage of new laws in multiple cities and states,” Sutton says. “That’s just in the US. There’s this constant push and pull of figuring out how to implement one law that was passed with another law that was passed that seems in almost direct contradiction to it.”
Sutton says he’s proud not only of the way his organization has handled the crisis, but its overall commitment to what he calls “being a humane place to be.”
According to Sutton, Genpact creates an environment that can be felt and lived every day through both large-scale programs and smaller, but equally as valuable, efforts. Regular town hall meetings allow employees to interact with leadership and make their voices heard.
“We also have created an innovative way for our people to raise alerts within the company, so prospective issues aren’t ever in danger of being isolated,” Sutton says.
Genpact is committed to making sure its people feel connected and their differences are celebrated. Affinity and allyship groups are available for the LGBTQ+ community and minority employees, and multiple formal mentorship groups are available, including a sponsorship program for minority employees and a twelve-month leadership program for female assistant vice presidents to help them grow into new roles.
Genpact also employs a policy to protect transgender employees and supports LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace.
Then there’s Genome: free classes put together from universities, inside talent, and other resources that are provided free of charge and allow employees to learn new skills that can be valuable to their development.
“I love our storytelling class, which I think is a great idea for all kinds of different roles, from lawyers who need to be persuasive to anyone who’s ever pitched at a meeting,” Sutton says. “There’s a huge catalog that provides people an informal way of developing new capabilities.”
The cumulative result of these efforts has led to Genpact employing a diverse array of talent, including a board of directors with a gender parity of nearly 50 percent. “We’re in the twenty-first century, so the numbers should always be better than they are, but I know that we’re far ahead of where a lot of organizations are,” Sutton says. “It’s something we’re very proud of.”
The supportive culture at Genpact is indicative of an evolving approach to its work—one that values challenging every assumption. “If we have an internal process that we think is antiquated or not going anywhere, we’re going to change it,” Sutton explains. “We don’t stand on tradition unless it provides results worth standing on. It creates a thriving environment that welcomes change, and I think you can see that in everything we do. And we do a lot.”
“Richard is a knowledgeable and pragmatic problem-solver. McGuireWoods has the pleasure of working with Richard regularly, and his practicality and insight are an asset to Genpact and set him apart from his peers.”
–Michael J. DiMattia, Partner, Labor & Employment