In a factory that can produce 3 billion units of Cadbury chocolates, priced at Rs 5- what makes Mondelez India’s manufacturing unit in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh unique is not their huge production but employing 50 percent women staffs. And interestingly, if you step in the factory, your first point of contact at the security booth will be a woman, who is dressed in a cobalt blue uniform, mentions the Economic Times report.
This US-headquartered FMCG giant’s largest factory is one of the 35 plants in the AMEA (Asia, Middle East, and Africa) region and on the production floor there are 300 employees, half of them are women.
According to the 2018 report of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, India’s organized sector (public and private) employs 3 crore workers. Only 61 lakh, or 20.5%, are women. At 12%, the proportion of women in the manufacturing sector is even lower.
The factory floors comprise of heavy machinery, many assume that the environment is appropriate for the male bastion due to harsh working conditions.
What is overwhelming about this factory setting is that with intelligent thinking and little effort, makers have made it convenient for the women workers as well.
While speaking to ET, Vidya Kumar, plant HR lead at Mondelez India says, “Sri City started as a greenfield project. We wanted to establish high-performance work systems at the facility. We felt gender parity will bring in the uniqueness to help us achieve that.”
While hiring women employees for this company, the officials approached villagers in and around Andhra Pradesh. Kumar says, “We interviewed these girls while most of them were still in college. Then brought their parents to our facility to show them that Mondelez has built a safe and secure work environment for their daughters.”
To make the workplace safe and sound for women, numerous things are taken care of. There is a crèche facility for young mothers, medical center that stays open 24/7, a gynecologist visits the site every fortnight, women’s changing room is available in the ground floor and female restrooms are available on all the four floors, sanitary napkin dispenser mounted on the wall, company hostel is available 20 minutes from the plant.
Further, most factory machinery comes equipped with a vacuum lifter to aid women in lifting heavy bags. Only for pick-up and drop facilities and hostel food come at a subsidized rate, which is deducted from their salary.
For most of these women, it is their first job and money is empowering for them. The organization also offers 6-12 month training programme in Bengaluru to make them comfortable with the industrial environment.
The manufacturing head at Mondelez India, Nandkumar Kulkarni says, “We give them technical training so that most of their factory work is not physical but that of adding value to the physical process by use of technology to bring consistency in cost, quality, safety, and delivery.”
Also, when it comes to salary, there is no pay gap and all responsibilities are equally distributed to the employees.
The organization also conducts an annual campaign called Lakshman Rekha and the message is conveyed through street plays in Telugu to teach male and female workers about respecting gender boundaries at work.
Taking a cue from the campaign, now 24-year-old Gopi Krishna understands the proper way of talking to women at work. “No gender is supposed to dominate the other. We have to respect each other’s role in the system. Sometimes women work harder than us,” he says to ET.
Another employee Sarita (21), who works on the packaging line says, “If the Lakshman Rekha is crossed, women have the option to approach separate committees meant to hear such grievances.” For a change, women from these villages are tasting equality and comfort at their workplace.