More women are entering car manufacturing as Tata Motors, Hero and MG accelerate gender diversity

Women are storming the male bastion of car manufacturing as companies like Tata Motors, MG Motor, Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto step up the promotion of gender diversity in workshops.

Tata Motors, which currently has more than 3,000 women working in its workshops at its six factories in India in different roles for the production of a range of vehicles from small passenger cars to heavy-duty vehicles, plans to add even more women in its factory workforce.

Similarly, MG Motor India plans to achieve a gender-balanced workforce in which women would make up 50% of its overall workforce, including in factories, by December 2023.

Currently, women make up 34% of the 2,000 employees at the Halol factory in Gujarat.

Hero MotoCorp has over 1,500 employees with a diversity rate of 9.3% at the end of 2021-22 and aims to increase it significantly in the near future.

Another Indian car company, Bajaj Auto, which has an all-female range of manufacturing high-end bikes like the Dominar 400 and Pulsar RS 200 at its plant in Chakan, Pune, has seen the number of female employees increase by more than four times, from 148 in FY2014 to 667 in FY22.

Nearly 64% of women work in manufacturing plants and in engineering, according to the company’s annual report for 2021-22.

“Diversity and inclusion in the automotive and manufacturing sector in India has become increasingly important over the past few years, with more and more companies keen to create a fair workplace.

“While companies have a comprehensive framework in place to encourage women to take on key roles, the numbers show that there is a wide gap between idealized criteria and reality,” said Ravindra Kumar, President and Chief Executive Officer. human resources of Tata Motors, to PTI.

In a bid to close the gap, Tata Motors is taking action in its own way.

The company’s passenger vehicle plant in Pune has seen its female workforce increase nearly 10-fold in the past two years, from 178 female workers in April 2020 to 1,600 to date, he said. .

“We have also undertaken the difficult task of building a store in Pune that is entirely comprised of a female workforce, and to date, 1,100 women are employed in this store. We plan to increase this number to 1,500 in the next two months,” Kumar added. .

At MG Motor India, women are deployed in critical manufacturing areas, paint quality and surface testing, research and development (R&D), assembly and have played a key role in the deployment of the first the company’s model in India, the Hector SUV from its Halol factory in Gujarat.

When the company inaugurated in September 2017 the Halol manufacturing unit, which it had acquired from General Motors, it chose to apply the principle of “maximum diversity” by hiring completely new candidates for the unit. Since then, it has been consistent with its diversity-based hiring strategy, with 34 percent of shop floor employees now women.

“Across the MG workforce, women are active agents of change and can be seen at the helm of multiple departments. However, despite having one of the highest gender diversity ratios in the automotive industry, we continuously strive to achieve the perfect ratio of 50:50,” said Yeshwinder Patial, Human Resources Manager of MG Motor India.

As for Hero MotoCorp, a spokesperson for the company said through its “Project Tejaswini” initiative, the company has “increased the number of female employees in its workshop, changed mindsets and made the workplace more holistic manufacturing, in line with its larger vision”.

In addition, the spokesperson added, “To achieve its diversity goals, the company has taken an integrated approach through targeted recruitment initiatives, education and training, career development and programs. mentoring to increase and maintain workforce heterogeneity within the organization”.

Hero MotoCorp is also a signatory to the UN Women initiative and the UN Global Compact – Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which offer guidance on how to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. women in the workplace, said the spokesperson.

Asked about the challenges of having more women in the factory workforce, Kumar of Tata Motors said: “The automotive industry has been a male-dominated sector since its inception, and the concept of female technicians, saleswomen and engineers joining the Plier seemed like a distant dream.”

This view has slowly changed over the years, he said, adding: “Since the 2016-2017 financial year, the number of women in the workshop has seen a gradual increase and today, Tata Motors has more than 3,000 women operating in the workshop across all of its factories.”

Tata Motors has taken several initiatives such as its “Kaushalya” program, which provides its female employees with comprehensive training and formal education of two to three years to those who come from different parts of India after their 12th standard or ITI qualification .

“During these years of formal apprenticeship with us, the girls get a degree in manufacturing, after ‘Kaushalya’, they can either choose to continue their higher education by accepting admission into BE/B.Tech or continue with a job inside or outside the company,” Kumar said.

“Tata Motors is one of the few companies in the country where women are part of the workforce in various portfolios and organizational hierarchies – from the company’s board of directors to the workshops,” he said. .

Improving gender balance in automotive operations and ranks will certainly lead to better decisions and more innovative ideas, Kumar concluded.

Marjorie N. McClure