Page Industries, the Indian manufacturer and retailer of innerwear, loungewear and socks, which is also an exclusive licensee of Jockey International in India, has close to 90 per cent women working at its shop floor. Speaking to HRKatha, Ravi Kumar, chief people officer, Page Industries, confirms that the Company has around 89 per cent of women working at the shop floor and across its warehouses in India.
Of the Company’s total workforce of around 28,000, about 3,000 are corporate employees and the remaining 25,000 are working at the factories and warehouses.
As per Kumar, at the shop floor where all the cutting and sowing happens, the number of women is fairly more than men but at the warehouses, the number of women and men are almost equal.
When we think of factories and the shop floor environment, we can only imagine men lifting and working heavy machineries. Though some industries are still facing challenges when it comes to increasing the number of women at the factories, there are certain businesses, which naturally attract women talent at the shop floor. Such is the business of Page Industries.
Kumar tells HRKatha that at the shop floor, the skills required pertain to cutting of cloth, sewing, inspection of the quality and packing. Being naturally gifted with the required skills, Kumar admits that women are usually more inclined towards and adept at these tasks, and much better at these than men.
In fact, it may not be just about skills because Page Industries has a well-defined process to train new joinees at the factories. For months, they are trained in the nuances of cutting, stitching, quality checking and packing.
Another major reason why Page Industries has more women at the shop floor is because most of the Company’s factories are located in the rural parts of India and generate employment for the local women. “Generally, the men in the rural areas tend to move out to look for jobs in the cities. Women, on the other hand, do not wish to migrate too far from their homes in search of work, and that is where we fit the bill,” points out Kumar.
For the shop floor, the Company picks talent via aptitude tests and emphasises on gauging what motivated the individual to join the brand. “It is not much of a challenge to attract women talent at the shop floor as they are aware of the Jockey brand. However, nowadays, women have multiple options to join shared services centres or call centres as they are educated and can speak English and regional languages as well,” says Kumar.
“Generally, the men in the rural areas tend to move out to look for jobs in the cities. Women, on the other hand, do not wish to migrate too far from their homes in search of work, and that is where we fit the bill”
Ravi Kumar, chief people officer, Page Industries
Kumar shares that at Page Industries, the HR people working at the shop floor go out to the villages to attract talent. “I call them my field force at Page Industries,” quips Kumar.
When it comes to creating an environment for the women to flourish, the Company provides a pickup and drop service to employees who live far away from the factories, especially the ones who work in shifts. There is focus on keeping the women employees healthy by providing nutritious snacks and lunch. “Women have the tendency to skip their meals as they put their family first and are preoccupied with caring for them. Therefore, such initiatives support our women and help fill that gap,” shares Kumar.
In-house doctors and nurses are available for the pregnant employees.
Since the mix of both genders is important, Kumar shares that representation of both the genders is balanced in corporate roles. “When it comes to fashion products, sometimes men may have better ideas that will suit women and vice versa,” tells Kumar.
In addition to gender diversity, the Company is also focusing on attracting talent from different industries, which means hiring people with diverse experiences. “My appointment as the chief people officer is one example. Our COO and the head of manufacturing were picked from outside the retail industry,” confirms Kumar.
Hiring people from outside the industry helps drive innovation and such people also challenge the existing processes which can bring more efficiency.
“Our leadership team carries an open-minded approach. We have a culture where every voice is heard and given a patient ear,” concludes Kumar.