Women representation in the workforce in India has been lower than desirable for a long time. For cement companies, challenges such as remote plant sites, and concerns over round-the-clock work shift hours, have been perceived as deterrents to improving gender representation in the sector. Despite the challenges, more women are now entering the buildings solutions sector, and breaking barriers as they pave way for future women talent.
UltraTech is delighted to be part of this positive change. UltraTech has put in place a robust practice of ensuring gender diversity in its workforce. The company has been taking several steps to create an inclusive work environment. The representation of women talent has been increasing across our functions, including manufacturing and sales, and across our businesses such as UltraTech Building Solutions and Ready-Mix Concrete. The Company has recently hired its first woman mining manager. It is heartening that around eight per cent of the engineers in-charge of frontline manufacturing operations are women.
Leading from the front
Rural India and non-metros are a major composition of India’s cement demand. This demographic of demand combined with the remote geographic locations of our manufacturing units, requires our workforce to reach out to customers and stakeholders across various locations in the country.
Our women colleagues are at the forefront, ensuring best services as part of our last mile connect— be it with retailers, customers or the local communities living around our units. As customer relationship managers, our women colleagues in the sales and marketing team, act as a single point contact to maintain the required service levels and customer relationships.
Ensuring well-being of our various stakeholders, along with customer delight, is core to UltraTech’s approach to grow sustainably. With the outbreak of COVID 19, our women doctors have been at the frontline, providing timely medical care to employees and their families as well as the local community to help combat the pandemic.
Driving sustainable growth
From ensuring seamless cement production to building a circular economy, our women colleagues are leading the way. The Central Control Room (CCR), for instance, monitors the manufacturing processes in a plant. CCR operations demand discipline, alertness, and leadership, to ensure seamless cement production. Women employees at UltraTech, are piloting CCR operations at several units ensuring seamless and smooth production at all times.
As part of our alternative fuel and raw materials (AFR) team, women also play an active role in protecting and building a sustainable future. The Company is working to reduce its carbon footprint in its manufacturing process through various innovations and by using waste and by-products from other industries as alternative raw material or as a fuel source. Solid Municipal waste, industrial waste and non-recyclable plastic waste are used as alternative fuels and raw materials in our manufacturing process. Our dedicated AFR team ensures smooth sourcing of these alternatives. Our women colleagues as part of this team, coordinate with several stakeholders across the country, including multiple small municipal corporations to source suitable waste material. This repurposing of waste helps reduce the burden on our landfills, offers an eco-friendly option to incinerate waste, and prevent soil and air pollution.
Strong leadership and a diverse human resource pipeline are critical for UltraTech to leverage the potential of the huge production scale it has invested in. Low retention of women talent is a major impediment to ensuring healthy gender diversity across levels. The Company looks to tackle this hurdle through various training initiatives and nourish a healthy pipeline of future women leaders. Currently, along with experienced hiring, the company is also strongly focussing on diversity through women employee hires.
The Springboard Programme, an initiative of the Aditya Birla Group, is aimed at building a diverse leadership pipeline for the group. UltraTech’s women employees have started enrolling for this programme since 2016. The programme is a learning intervention conceptualised exclusively for women leaders in middle management and facilitates retention of ‘High Potential’ women employees.
UltraTech’s management trainee programme Ulchemies, is designed to address the generational and gender diversity needs at UltraTech. Talent is hired and trained through a robust one-year learning journey to meet the needs at front line critical roles. The Summer internship batch of 2020 saw 50 per cent women representation in the ‘Ulchemies’ hired. UltraTechies is another entry level hiring program for manufacturing, aimed at creating a feeder pipeline through young leadership. The company focuses on hiring female talent under this programme.
UltraTech has adopted a holistic approach towards women empowerment, which means our efforts encompass our stakeholders across our value chain of operations. Women are active beneficiaries of the Company’s various social initiatives aimed at upskilling, including tailoring and masonry.
The Company supports various women led self-help groups across the country and helps their business build scale. Our SHG focussed initiatives, aim at enhancing financial independence of women, the SHG led carpet unit in Khor is one such example. The carpet centre set up a decade ago, now exclusively exports all its produce to developed countries. UltraTech also conducts masonry training programmes every year including Sakhi Shilpkaar (A masonry training programme for women). During FY2020, about four thousand women masons participated in the Sakhi Shilpkaar training programme