A lot has changed in the last nine months. While remote working has brought in a complete shift in mindset and work culture, diversity and inclusion have become even more important now than ever before. Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG has already stepped up to make its shop floor more inclusive for women. Recently, they announced 46 women hires at the Chennai unit. Now they are looking to up the ratio to 20 per cent by 2022. The organisation now has 186 women employees, which is just about 4 to 5 per cent of the workforce. To achieve the same, DiveIn was launched, which as per, Yeshwant Kumar Kini, head of human resources, has already actioned its first step.
“Diversity and inclusion have been the most fundamental principles at DICV. That is why, we launched DiveIn to bring in diversity in our workforce. In the first stage of the initiative, we ingested about 46 women onto the shop floor of our manufacturing plant in Chennai. That’s where we thought we needed to get more women employees, and hence, the goal of 20 per cent women hires by 2022,” Kini recounts.
The need for manpower will increase in the coming days, and so, we are thinking of getting women diploma engineers to create the pipeline for the future. We have looked at opportunities and goals and we will only consider women walk-ins for these particular roles.
The Company has been taking various steps to make sure they achieve their goal steadfastly. “The potential is huge. We have opportunities to take graduate engineering trainees, post-graduate trainees and more. The need for manpower will increase in the coming days and so, we are thinking of getting women diploma engineers to create the pipeline for the future. We have looked at opportunities and goals and we will only have women walk-ins for these particular roles,” Kini informs.
During the pandemic, DICV was quick enough to rise to the occasion by moving to a digital setup to ensure safety. Now that people are returning to work, the organisation is planning to roll out a new policy, which, as per Kini, will be especially beneficial for the women. “Employees can work from home after taking permission from their supervisiors, for up to 60 days in a year. We are also looking at identifying a few roles that will not need employees to come to the office, and can be handled permanently from home. We feel women who have to care for their families and children, can definitely benefit from these measures,” Kini asserts, although he insists that this policy is not gender specific.
To ensure safety and comfort of women employees on the shop floor, DICV has worked on the mindset, infrastructure and policies to make the manufacturing units more women-friendly. “We had a comprehensive set of tangible and intangible changes in terms of infrastructure that we had to make — specific restrooms, changing rooms, dedicated medical professionals, crèche facilities, and so on. We also reinforced existing policies and measures, such as gender sensitisation training. We have Prevention Of Sexual Harassment (POSH) meetings very often. Furthermore, to ensure that the new women employees settle down, we took many steps to make them comfortable and provide them training on health and hygiene, communication skills and fire-fighting skills. They were also mentored by the senior members of the team. The intent is to encourage more women to join us by making it an attractive proposition,” Kini explains.
There are several research reports that suggest that companies practising gender diversity in the workforce receive inherent benefits, which include financial profitability, with women in senior leadership. Kini believes it also benefits an organisation in terms of bringing in better employer brand proposition. “Companies with such support policies to generate diversity are viewed as progressive and positive. It also ensures better employee retention. There is a shift in quality focus. Women at the shop floor ensures more gender mix. There is more creativity and better problem solving,” points out Kini.
Kini also mentions here that initially, the organisation was not sure how people from the rural sector would react to working at manufacturing units. The response was surprising. “Honestly, we were a bit surprised that they found it attractive enough to work on our shop floor, provided we were able to convince their hesitant parents. This is something we are going to work on more. Going forward, we would like to share a few success stories of these women on our shop floors —about how they feel and how they have improved their status. This could bring in more connect with the future employee pool.”
Researches and surveys in 2020 have hinted at the fact that there has been large-scale exodus of women from the workforce, due to the added pressure of caregiving at home. Fortunately, however, DICV did not face any such hurdles and Kini tells us why — “We adapted very fast and looked for solutions for any issues stemming from work-from-home. Most of the roles we had were moved to the work-from-home setting. Once things started to improve, the manufacturing employees resumed working on the shop floor. That’s probably why we did not witness any such exits. “
Moving ahead, Kini resolves that DICV will work on creating a good balance between work and personal life for the women employees, apart from increasing their numbers in the workforce. Kini firmly believes that employee-friendly policies will be the key to a progressive and successful organisation.