As part of commemorating International Women's Day, domestic CV major Ashok Leyland today hosted a series of events aimed towards achieving gender equality, empowering women and elevating them economically, socially, and culturally.
The events ranged from a round table interaction with senior leaders from the company to Breast Cancer Awareness, cooking without fire workshop, behavioural Intervention by Evam Team, financial planning, fair with stalls by women entrepreneurs, and a music concert.
Commenting on the occasion, N V Balachandar, president-HR ,Communication and CSR, Ashok Leyland, said: “While the success for any automotive company is staying ahead of the curve on technology, getting the right set of talent who can create a culture of innovation, and who are execution focused is imperative. Research shows that women demonstrate more transformational leadership and drive the business agenda with empathy, discipline and resilience. Hence, equal opportunity coupled with women’s empowerment are cornerstones of sustainable and fair development."
"Currently, at Ashok Leyland we have increased entry level participation of women in our workforce to about 35 percent. Simultaneously, we are also working on ways to increase their participation in the higher levels of leadership too. A combination of these initiatives will enable us build a future which provides meaningful opportunities for women across levels,” added Balachandar.
Uma Rao, vice-president, Human Resource, Ashok Leyland said, “The changing business scenario in auto sector and thereby of Ashok Leyland opens up challenges of meticulous execution, customer centricity through relationship management, higher aesthetic value of design & products and superior technology. The automotive industry is highly male dominated, which can be very intimidating for women to participate. Hence, we have initiated some beneficial and unique steps to address this scenario and to create a gender inclusive workplace accepting of all diversity."
"For instance, under our unique 'Blessing' scheme at Pantnagar plant, a first-of-its-kind girl’s hostel is inside the campus to encourage more women workers on the shop floor. The program has already achieved employment ratio of 22 percent of girl employees in plants. At Ashok Leyland, we seek to leverage the power of gender diversity to meet the challenges of providing the best mobility solutions,” commented Rao.
Having taken various measures to enable more women to join the workforce, Ashok Leyland says it calibrated the impact through a survey which shed light on some interesting perceptions – 1/3 each of the efforts were towards, engagement, career development, and inclusive offerings versus data from comparable benchmarked companies whereas about 2/3 efforts were towards inclusive offerings and the remaining 1/3 split between career development and engagement.
Building on the belief of gender diversity and wider inclusion, Ashok Leyland has engaged extensively with industry bodies through dialogues and discussions to learn on the best and the next practices. With the same intent, Ashok Leyland says it hosted a roundtable interaction with senior leaders from organisations in collaboration with WILL Forum led by Poonam Barua, in Chennai. With companies such TCS, Michelin, Ford Services, Infosys, Capgemini, Sutherland, L&T, Caterpillar, Great Lakes Institute of Management, HCL and Pfizer among others participating and making it fruitful learning and exchange of ideas and successful practices.
At the roundtable event, the leaders expressed their views on the concept of equality in the workplace as a critical component of good governance, innovative leadership, and an open cultural environment in the organisation and not as gender-specific issue. They were of a belief that there is a disparity in the current state of leadership, in corporate India. Hence, there is a significant need to lead the way in improving gender equality, particularly in corporate boardrooms and top-management positions, for better decision making and strategic overview of company performance and rewards to the stakeholders.
The attendees were in accord that having more women leaders will bring greater strategic vision, ethics and integrity, customer orientation, quality decision making, talent development, resource optimisation, and risk management to the top-management of companies.