When Mahindra introduced women GETS (graduate engineering trainees) to the shop floor, it could see an immediate change in the behaviour of the workers. Even the most rude and aggressive workers adapted a calmer and more docile behaviour. The presence of young women — many of them their daughter’s age — on the shop floor made them more conscious of their behaviour and brought in a change in the environment.
In another incident, this car manufacturer increased productivity in the paint shop with a simple idea — introduction of music on the floor. This helped create a synchronised way of working. The very idea was initiated by a woman employee at Mahindra.
There are many such incidents which have helped Mahindra believe in the importance of women in the workforce, especially in leadership roles.
“Women are major contributors to decision-making in households and we need to bring the same to organisations as well. They bring a soothing effect to the organisational culture,” says Prince Augustin, EV-P, group human capital and leadership development, Mahindra & Mahindra.
Currently, only seven per cent of the top leadership team at Mahindra is represented by women, and Mahindra now wants to increase this number significantly.
Augustin says, “I agree that talent is gender neutral, but at the same time, we need to create a certain affirmative plan to provide equal opportunities and facilities for all to grow in their careers.”
Mahindra has now launched a ‘women leaders programme’ to help talented women in the organisation transcend perceived limitations and achieve their full potential.
In the mid-career stage, many women veer off a leadership track due to work-life concerns, perceived lack of fit or other factors.
This 18-month long programme, conceptualised jointly with SP Jain Institute of Management, will include, educational learning, mentorship learning, training and business simulation.
In the next two years, around 100 women will benefit from this programme and in the next four–five years as many as 400.
“This programme is all about leading self, leading teams and people, and finally, leading businesses,” says Augustin.
Diversity has always been high on the agenda for Mahindra. The mission to have a fully diversified workplace — be it religion, culture, age group etc. — started four–five years back. 70 per cent of its employees are GenX and GenY, while the share of baby boomers is around 20 per cent.
“It’s not that such programmes will not benefit the men employees. But, now the focus on gender diversity is very high,” says Augustin.
Women face many challenges and opt out of a career in the mid stage. The idea of this programme is to prevent this filtration.
“Women bring compassion and empathy to the culture of the organisation and create a business ecosystem that connects,” says Augustin.
The Indian Government has said that the GDP of the country will grow with more women employees, and Mahindra’s effort is to fuel this cause.