How Hindustan Zinc mines a path for women in leadership

Overcoming regulations and stereotypes, the Indian mining giant shatters glass ceilings and empowers women underground

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In the rugged world of mining, traditionally a male domain, Hindustan Zinc, a leading Indian zinc producer, is making history. Forget quotas; the company has mandated a groundbreaking 25 per cent female representation in decision-making bodies, ensuring women have a powerful voice in shaping the industry’s future. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hindustan Zinc is on a mission to shatter stereotypes and empower women to excel in every facet of mining operations, from the boardroom to the mine shaft.

The journey wasn’t easy. Stringent regulations often restricted women’s work hours and relegated them to specific roles. But Hindustan Zinc refused to be deterred. They embarked on a bold quest, securing permissions from regulatory bodies such as the Digital Mining Services (DGMS) to allow women into previously restricted areas such as mine management and even underground operations. This wasn’t just about compliance; it was about creating a level playing field and unlocking a world of opportunities for women. The company invested heavily in safety measures and gender-specific facilities, paving the way for women to take on leadership roles and thrive in this challenging environment.

“We’ve become a trailblazer in promoting gender diversity in mining,” says Munish Vasudeva, senior vice president & CHRO, Hindustan Zinc. “We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.” This commitment extends far beyond quotas. Hindustan Zinc fosters an inclusive culture from the very beginning. They meticulously evaluate the entire employee experience, from the initial recruitment process to ongoing development, ensuring every woman feels valued, respected, and empowered throughout her career journey.

“We’ve become a trailblazer in promoting gender diversity in mining. We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.”

Munish Vasudeva, senior vice president & CHRO, Hindustan Zinc

 

Recognising that diversity goes beyond gender, Hindustan Zinc takes a unique approach. They leverage advancements in automation and technology to create a meritocratic environment where skills, not stereotypes, dictate success. Additionally, the company broadens its talent pool by strategically integrating veterans, many of them women, into key operational roles.  Their leadership abilities, honed through years of service, and expertise in managing large-scale operations prove invaluable assets for Hindustan Zinc.

But empowering women requires a dedicated focus on their development. Enter ‘VDesire’, a programme that allows employees to chart their career paths.  Women can express their aspirations for specific roles beyond their current positions, and Hindustan Zinc equips them with the tools and resources to achieve their goals.  Another innovative program is the ‘V-League’, specifically designed to cultivate female talent. Through a comprehensive mentorship, training, and networking programme, V-League helps women hone their leadership skills and confidently step into more prominent roles.

“We’ve identified opportunities to fast-track promising women into leadership positions,” explains Vasudeva. V-League is about dismantling barriers and creating a more equitable environment where women have the chance to excel alongside their male counterparts.

This unwavering commitment manifests in several ways. Not just 25 per cent female representation in decision-making bodies, in situations where women leaders haven’t yet emerged, the company proactively includes them as special invitees, ensuring their voices are heard.  With a clear target of achieving a 30 per cent female workforce by 2030, Hindustan Zinc is not just setting an ambitious goal; they are actively paving the path to achieve it.

The impact extends beyond the company’s walls. Hindustan Zinc boasts an industry-leading parenthood policy, offering extended leave options that recognise diverse family structures, and actively promotes equal opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated roles like mining engineers.  Perhaps the most emblematic example of their success is their pioneering all-women mining rescue team, national competition victors against their male counterparts.

Hindustan Zinc’s story is one of courage, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of equality. By overcoming regulatory hurdles, dismantling stereotypes, and investing in the potential of its women, Hindustan Zinc is not only transforming its own company culture, but also serving as a beacon of hope, inspiring a new generation of women to see mining as a fulfilling and rewarding career path. In the heart of the earth, Hindustan Zinc is truly mining a path for a more inclusive and successful future.

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