“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women” – a powerful statement indeed from the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
While there is a lot of focus on gender and diversity in corporates, some organizations have actually walked the talk.
A recent visit to a premium clothing manufacturing corporate in Bangalore demonstrated how companies can actually create a highly productive and efficient work environment by designing a comprehensive employee strategy that included a sound hiring plan, employee engagement with focus on development and retention, and alignment of people with business objectives.
By hiring women for operational roles and giving them solid training prior to starting off on the job, the company ensured that it had a skilled talent pool both for current and future requirements. A majority of the women were from low-income families and hailed from rural areas. Being employed in a corporate meant a safe work environment in hygienic conditions, in addition to getting economically empowered. Further, for those employees with young children, the corporate had an in-house facility with trained supervisors where basic education was imparted in addition to providing day-care support. A medical center was also in operation within the premises.
By thoughtfully hiring workforce from a segment that desperately needed the jobs, and offering a conducive work environment that would encourage these employees to set aside their concerns regarding safety, hygiene, supervised child care, and basic education and medical access, the company demonstrated its business acumen and strategic thinking. At the same time, it has also set in motion the route to economic empowerment for several hundreds of women that will go a long way in developing their families and their geographic area, apart from making them self-reliant and confident.
The example set by this corporate is worth emulating. If only more corporates followed suit, the business world can tap into the strengths and capabilities offered by half the global population (namely women!), currently severely ignored and under-leveraged.