The professional sphere isn’t easy to navigate for women in our country. A 2020 study by Catalyst states that women comprise only 19.9% of the total labour force in India. As per the study, the dismal figures are a result of “restrictive cultural norms regarding women’s work.” Jobs in India are segregated on a gender basis even today and women are constantly discouraged from taking plant and floor jobs in factories. Geeli Pucchi, a short film in Netflix anthology Ajeeb Dastaans throws light on the issue. In the film, Bharti Mandal (Konkana Sen) can be seen struggling with her floor job while she is regularly jibed at, harassed, and called a ‘man’ owing to the nature of her work.
Clearly, our restrictive mindsets have been hampering women’s careers all this while and intervention is long overdue. That said, the initiative needs to come from the companies’ end as well. The need of the hour is to create a work environment conducive for women employees in factories. Thankfully, some companies are paying heed and today, we are celebrating them. Read on to find about five companies in India that are going the extra mile to support the women workforce in India:
In an announcement that’s winning plaudits, Ola recently shared that they would be employing an “all-woman” workforce at their upcoming two-wheeler factory in Chennai. They plan to hire 10,000 women for various roles at the plant where the operations would be run entirely by women. “At full capacity, Future Factory will employ over 10,000 women, making it the world’s largest women-only factory and the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility globally,” wrote Bhavish Aggarwal, founder and CEO, Ola Electric, in a blog on Monday.
He further shared that the move has been taken to empower women with economic opportunities. The idea is to change not just their lives, but that of their families and entire communities. According to Bhavish, we need to prioritise upskilling and generating employment for the women workforce for India to become the world’s largest manufacturing hub.
Pioneering the concept of women-led factories, the small pump manufacturing unit of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd. near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu was started in 2010. Set up under the company’s Mahila Mission 20 project, the plant was started with a simple idea in mind. Across the country, women were the biggest users of household pumps and it only made sense to include them in the manufacturing process. The experiment turned out to be a huge success and the all-women staff managed to reduce the assembly time for pumps to around 17 seconds. With this, they ended up setting a record that got them a mention in the Limca Book of Records!
Back in 2014, Mumbai-based consumer goods behemoth Hindustan Unilever took a major step toward inclusivity by employing an all-women workforce for its Haridwar plant. The plant was started in 2008 and prior to the transition, all women were provided with proper training to take over the operations. The company invested honest interest in diversifying the workforce and it showed results. Within the first quarter of the transition, the unit delivered a 40 per cent increase in productivity along with an 8 per cent increase in ‘overall equipment efficiency.’
Robust changes on the infrastructure and policy level are what we need for diversifying plant jobs in India and luxury carmaker Daimler has taken cognisance of the same. To encourage more women to join the workforce, the company has installed suitable infrastructure and services including specific restrooms and changing rooms. Daimler aims to create a gender-diverse staff and has been making the required changes to increase their women workforce in the coming years.
The women workforce at Vedanta Aluminium has been levelling the playing field by handling significant portfolios, the kinds that generally men are hired for in India. At Vedanta’s Jharsuguda plant, women are involved in all sorts of core operations including production, finance, procurement, logistics, innovation, security, and civil work. The company has done some tremendous work in inclusivity and has an all-women fire-fighting team at its plant in Odisha.
Here’s hoping that more companies learn from these examples and follow their lead!
Featured Image: Twitter