Satish Bhat, Managing Director, Ador Welding Limited
Women are underrepresented in India’s manufacturing sector with participation ranging from only three in the core engineering sector while it goes up to 12% in the computer engineering sector as per latest studies. Compounding this problem and creating an urgency around getting more women into manufacturing is the fact that plenty of jobs are out there ready to be filled, as manufacturers currently face a workforce crisis. Attracting more women is critical to helping manufacturing companies grow, fill job vacancies, and replace their existing aging workforce.
However, this does not mean that opportunities are scarce. With each passing year, we see an increased representation of women in the core manufacturing sector with companies consciously providing the necessary safety, convenience and skill development for women .
There are a wide variety of positions including high-level, high-earning positions in manufacturing in areas such as life sciences, technology, media and telecommunications, energy, automotive, and many others.
Today we already have several examples of companies having significant women representation including our own.
There is a dearth of women in senior positions overall. A study reveals that this is due to lack of role models.
To dwell on this topic further and reasons for it, I would say that this is due to a number of factors – some like a general underlying thought that women are not built to handle tough conditions on the shop floor. Women in India face biases in gender discrimination right from their upbringing where the roles of their parents become very crucial. When they grow up, they are expected to strike the right balance between work and family which makes them leave career half way to focus on their family among other issues.In the manufacturing industry, as a direct result of the abundance of men, internal company cultures tend to be male-oriented. Abolishing this culture will help increase women’s interest in manufacturing.
Women represent one of the largest pools of untapped talent for manufacturers and closing manufacturing’s gender gap is the key to closing the skills gap that has limited businesses’ ability to evolve and expand. In addition to filling open positions, gender diversity benefits manufacturing firms by creating a culture that improves their ability to innovate and grow. Today opportunities are available at every level for women in the manufacturing sector. The need of the hour is to facilitate the growth of women in their careers. The manufacturing Sector is facilitating this with actions taken to ensure that women are provided a conducive working environment and relevant training. Ador Welding has been taking giant strides in enabling the entry of women at various levels and providing opportunities to women on the shop floor. Women in manufacturing are increasing; they are building meaningful careers and quite literally building the future.
We have taken a lot of effort to provide a conducive working environment to all employees within the organisation. We have a POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy in place with the sole intention of educating the male counter part on enabling a conducive working environment for his lady colleague at work. At Ador Welding we have women at all positions working-hand-in-hand with their male counterparts at our Manufacturing plants, be it as Manufacturing In-Charge, Welder on the shop floor or Women working on assembly lines. Besides we have women working across departments at senior managerial positions at F&A, HR, Legal & Secretarial, R&D & Marketing.
I agree. Rapid technological advances and the convergence of physical and digital manufacturing are helping change the way manufacturers operate and raising the bar for required employee skill sets. The manufacturing sector is seeing large scale digitalisation, the use of IOT & AI as it progresses towards smart factories and Industry 4.O. The skill sets required for running these factories will even out the playing field to a great extent for women and hasten their presence in the Manufacturing sector. Also, the Manufacturing sector provides vast avenues for continuous core learning which gives an added appeal to this sector.
Attrition: It has been observed in India that a woman may take maternity leave and not come back. To ensure that women are retained, the concept of parental leave should be brought into place, to ease the burden off women’s shoulder, and the responsibility could be equally divided between both the parents.
Eliminate difference in Pay scales: There is still difference in pay scale when it comes to men and women, but now there are more women who are willing to work, a lot of them don’t really mind working odd shifts as well because they want to grow on par with men
Creating the right culture: Organizations can unleash the full potential of their female workforces by creating a culture where unique strengths thrive. Culture can’t change without women in the room, so companies should incorporate strategies to attract high-performing women and develop solid retention strategies.
Grooming them for Leadership positions: Further, focusing on leadership development can drive retention and foster diverse leadership perspectives. Understanding and addressing needs such as flexible workplace options also aid in recruitment and retention. If unique strengths aren’t thriving, it is time to adapt and make changes to build a beacon that attracts the best and brightest.
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