We have already planned to double the rations of women employees in two years.
The women workforce helps change mindset of other employees towards gender bias and encourages progressive thinking. “At Tata Hitachi we have taken up initiatives to increase the ratio of women engineers and workers directly engaged with manufacturing activities in the shop-floor,” states Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi. Excerpts from the interview…
Could you please spell out Tata Hitachi’s vision on gender diversity?
Tata Hitachi is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The organisation is committed to promote diversity, equality and create an inclusive environment in which women can participate, contribute and develop freely and equitably. Being a heavy engineering company, traditionally the participation of women in the core manufacturing activities has been low. Tata Hitachi has taken up initiatives to increase the ratio of women engineers and workers directly engaged with manufacturing activities in the shop-floor.
How do you assess the concept and scope for gender diversity on the shop floor and what are the initiatives taken to step up the same?
Till around three years back, there was no concerted effort to engage women in the shop-floor activities. However, to achieve our vision of improving gender ratio at the shop-floor, we have initiated steps. The major actions taken by the company are:
- Study and understand the best practises of manufacturing companies which have achieved success in promoting gender diversity
- Take targets on the percentage of women to be hired against total number of hire
- Identify job activities on which women may be placed
- Study specific ergonomical requirements for women and make changes wherever possible
- Assess and provide workplace amenities
- Support women in arranging safe accommodation and transport facilities
- Regular reinforcement of the vision by the top management team to the employees
- Training to employees for gender sensitization
- Regular communication and feedback sessions with the women employees to identify areas for important
- Monitoring and mentoring by senior women officers
How do you ensure safety in the shop floor, especially in the assembly line?
Safety of its workforce is of paramount importance at Tata Hitachi. The company strives to achieve zero accident and there are several institutionalized processes in place to ensure the same. Special safety measures have been put in place for the women employees. These include:
- Proper induction and training before they are put on the job
- A senior employee mentor the women employees
- Proper tools and tackles to handle heavy jobs
- Deploying women on jobs which are considered safe for them
- Special care on ergonomics
What are the initiatives taken to ensure safety and quality working environment in the company premises?
- Commitment from top management to provide safe and quality working environment for all employees.
- Providing all infrastructure and amenities required for safe working environment
- Adequate security staff, surveillance and security within and around the office premises
- Formation of ICC under POSH
- Awareness on POSH and prominent display of posters on sexual harassment at the workplace
- Workplace review on safety and security by senior management
Senior women officers from our corporate office visit and review the women workplace safety, security and amenities.
What are the major roles assigned to them in shop floor and what are the steps initiated to upgrade their skill set?
Jobs which suits the women employees are where lifting of heavy components is not required such as light assembly, machine operation, line supervision etc. Regular training is provided – both classroom and on-the-job. They are also mentored by senior employees to improve their skill sets.
Tell us steps initiated to ensure ‘zero discrimination’?
The top management is highly committed for improving gender diversity, and we have clear cut focus on continuous reinforcement and sensitization of all employees to improve gender diversity; and there is Zero tolerance on sexual harassment. There is also commitment by continuous interaction and feedback session of senior management with women employees.
What do you think major advantages of women workforce on the shop floor and how the company is benefitted?
It helps the company in generating ideas for improving ergonomics and overall workplace amenities and environment, and also helps in bringing diverse ideas and solutions. It helps change mindset of other employees towards gender bias and encourages progressive thinking.
It makes the workplace more cohesive, healthy and harmonious and it is good from the perspective of good industrial relations.
What is ratio of women employees on the shop floor? What are your plans to improve the same?
Currently it is approximately 3%. We have already planned to double this in two years. We started this drive only three years back, therefore the current penetration is 3%. This is likely to go upto 6% in 2-3 years’ time.
What are the major challenges while employing them on the shop floor and how do you address the same?
There are many challenges in employing women at the shop floor. For example, acceptability by women themselves to work at the shop-floor is major block. We at Tata Hitachi provide regular counselling and support to them, mentor them and we have in place a speedy grievance redressal system.
Another area is the availability of women workers with requisite skill and qualification;
and we have set up effective in-house training, special recruitment drives. There are, sometimes resistance from some male line managers and we have specific training schedules on gender sensitization.
Finding jobs which suits women since many jobs require lifting of heavy components or tools is another area; we have been addressing the challenge by improving ergonomics, ensuring appropriate tools and tackles, and work in combination with male employees. Sometimes safety outside the company premises (in small cities) is a problem and we provide transport facilities, and assistance in finding suitable accommodation.