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Women Bust the Shopfloor Gender Barrier at Tata Motors

20 July, 2017

Across Tata Motors' plants, there are over 1,500 women working on the shopfloor and engaged in auto manufacturing.

Dipali Bhalerao – NEEM trainee, Tata Motors:

My family could not afford my education. I am very grateful to Tata Motors for giving me this opportunity to ‘earn while I learn'. This will help me to build my own identity in future.

Ankita Malviya - TCF Assembly Line (Production), Tata Motors:

Working on the chassis assembly line for the past ten months has been a life-changing experience. It has made me a stronger person, not just physically but also mentally. It's hard for a freshman to gain acceptance on the shop floor, even more so for a woman. It was a tough time initially, but the shop floor experience has taught me to be patient and perseverant. It has honed my leadership and management skills, and most importantly it has taught me to be positive. The journey has been worth all the tough times. Today, I can't imagine a job off the line.

Varsha Jadhav, Manager, Auto Engines Manufacturing, Tata Motors:
I have been working with Tata Motors for more than eight years and was the only woman on shopfloor in Pune till 2014. Women who study engineering rarely get an opportunity to work in a male-dominated manufacturing environment. Tata Motors has given me and many other women the chance to prove our mettle in an atmosphere like this. The various growth opportunities and constant encouragement to undertake challenging tasks have helped me build self-confidence and has equipped me for a better future.

Loveleen Mishra, Manager, Electricals & Electronics (ERC), Tata Motors:
Fresh out of college, we found ourselves – all 40 Graduate Engineer Trainees of 2008 – in a large auditorium at Jamshedpur Works' MTC facility. The head of HR was addressing us all, and the one sentence that stuck with me was, “Tata Motors gives everyone an equal opportunity to be unequal”. I thought it made for a good sound byte only.

Today, I realise how apt the words were. Within the first 6 years of my experience at the Tata Motors, I was able to be ‘unequal' in many ways – I won a multitude of quizzing awards for the company at various quizzing events. My quizzing experience helped me give back to the society by conducting various events for school-kids. I even met the Chairman of the Group at various events. That's a lot of mileage in the first 6 years of your corporate life.

For Tata Motors, increasing the number of women employees on the shopfloor was a tough task. Challenges included social barriers and mental attitudes towards ‘the right' kind of work for women.

Here's how Tata Motors broke the gender barrier in manufacturing.

  • Getting the right candidates

The HR team took advantage of a government scheme called National Employability Enhancement Mission (NEEM). According to this scheme, even candidates who had passed 10th grade can be hired and then trained. Tata Motors partnered with government-certified agencies and looked at on-boarding women from rural India. The first batch of women employees was introduced at the Pune plant, and then other sites.

  • Intense communication and counselling

The induction of women trainees on the shop floor initially saw huge resistance from other employees, which was eased through focused communication by HR heads and plant heads in each plant.

  • Infrastructure support

New restrooms, washrooms and lockers were built in the plants to provide a comfortable working environment for women employees. The number of women supervisors on the shopfloor and women security personnel was increased.

  • Critical Exposure

Apart from skill training, the new women employees were also taken through sessions on Prevention of Sexual Harassment policies, safety and healthcare, Tata Code of Conduct, Tata history, etc.

  • Boosting morale

Once they hit the shop floor, these young girls had to adapt and start delivering with accuracy and speed. They were supported by senior leaders, women role models and supervisors who worked to keep them motivated and engaged.
The effort by Tata Motors to break the gender barrier on shopfloors has paid off.

With over 1,500 women employed at its plants in Pune, Jamshedpur, Lucknow, Dharwad, Pantnagar, and Sanand, Tata Motors has demonstrated that shopfloors can hold equal opportunities for women.

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