Companies put their best foot forward to hire women in blue-collar jobs

Companies put their best foot forward to hire women in blue-collar jobs

Bengaluru | Mumbai: Leading Indian manufacturing companies are putting in place a host of initiatives to try and fix the problem of women’s underrepresentation in blue-collar jobs.

Safety audits, job training and upskilling programmes, accommodation and free transport, female security guards and CCTVs and encouragement to business partners to onboard more women are among measures the likes of ITC, Titan, MG Motor India, and Godrej & Boyce are deploying to induct more women into blue-collar roles, traditionally a male-dominated domain.

This comes at a time when women’s workforce participation — especially in blue-collar roles — continues to be low despite India Inc’s increasing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. A recent ET story, with data from constituent companies of S&P BSE India Manufacturing Index, showed that women make up about 5% of blue-collar/factory roles, less than half their 10.8% representation in white-collar jobs.

Cos Put Their Best Foot Forward to Hire Women in Blue-collar Jobs.

Companies are accelerating efforts towards creating a more inclusive workplace, and these are starting to pay off.

“ITC has been betting big on employing women as a majority workforce across factories, enthused by their regularity, dexterity and discipline leading to better efficiency in operations,” said Amitav Mukherji, head, corporate human resources.

ITC, which had 11.9% women in blue-collar roles in FY23, now has 50-75% women in some of its new integrated consumer goods manufacturing and logistics facilities in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. To help achieve this, it partnered with local vocational training institutes and created programmes to develop required skills. To ensure safety, it provides pick-ups and drops; vehicles with GPS; dedicated areas for female workers; female security guards; and CCTV cameras in vehicles and key plant locations.

MG Motor India began by raising awareness among prospective female blue-collar workers about a fresh career avenue; provided training programmes and inaugurated two hostels housing more than 350 female employees to tap women from nearby villages.

“Currently, we have a diversity level of 37% at our manufacturing plant. We have the highest women representation on the factory floors across supply chain, welding, brazing, spray painting, assembly activities, sales and aftersales, among others,” said Yeshwinder Patial, senior director, HR.

Shift timings, gender discrimination, enduring sexual harassment and negative comments/biases are among challenges keeping women away from factory/blue collar roles, say experts. That is why ensuring safety is high on companies’ agenda.

Titan, with women in over 49% of blue-collar roles, has a focused Women Safety Audit which covers aspects such as identifying vulnerability factors concerning safety of women; weekly workplace audits at specific locations; establishing self-help groups conducting self-defence training and actively seeking female employees’ feedback.

“Diversity at workplaces allows an influx of fresh perspectives. This fosters creativity and innovation in workstreams and aids business prosperity. Employing more women in blue-collar roles doesn’t just empower the woman employee, it often translates into a cascading effect and inspires her family to pursue their aspirations,” said Priya Mathilakath, head of people function, Titan.

Diversified miner Vedanta has cascaded its organisational targets to its business partners who are encouraged to onboard women in mining and asset integrity roles. Partners have been advised to create safe workplaces for women, including by the formation of internal committees to deal with grievances related to sexual harassment, as well as hygienic facilities and transportation arrangements, said chief HR officer Madhu Srivastava.

“With the infusion of technology and automation, we are seeing an increase in women’s participation on the shop floor,” said Harpreet Kaur, SVP and head of corporate personnel & administration, Godrej & Boyce.

Women comprise 40% of Godrej Locks workers at its Goa factory and 80% at the Kudal, Maharashtra, factory. Besides supervisory and core manufacturing roles, they also lead large departments such as electronics development wing, which consists entirely of women.

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Author: Shirley