Diversity and community connect is the key focus for MG Motor in India: P Balendran
Mary Barra created a history of sorts when she became the first female CEO of a major global automaker in 2013. But how many Mary Barras do we have in the automotive industry? While she stands out as a shining beacon to women the world over, the automotive industry is still a male-dominated bastion. The female professionals in the sector are restricted to management and administrative functions, and the number of women in senior roles can literally be counted on fingertips.
It is this disparity that brands like MG Motor (Morris Garages) India want to attack. With plans to reach the Morris Garages (MG) brand in 2019, the company is looking to invest over Rs 5,000 Cr till 2025 to establish its presence in the country. Driven by its core ethos of inclusivity and community, MG Motor has hired several women professionals in key roles across vital business functions such as manufacturing and R&D. Right from the top management to basic job titles, MG has given wings to women by hiring 25% (more than any other auto major) women employees.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, P Balendran, Executive Director, MG Motor India sheds light on how diversity and community connect is the key focus for MG Motor in India.
The automotive industry is a male-dominated bastion. The female professionals in the sector are restricted to management and administrative functions. What can be done to increase the number of women in the senior roles?
The trend is fast changing with the overall transformation in the automotive industry. Many automobile companies the world over are now hiring female employees in different roles including in manufacturing, engineering, quality control and for shop floors activities. There are female CEOs also heading companies in the automobile sector. In our case, MG Motor India is focused on key pillars internally within the organization such as diversity, innovation, and SPEED culture.
Our intention is to break the glass ceiling as far as women hires are concerned and set new benchmarks in the auto sector. Our female strength as of now is around 26% and our intention is to increase it to 30% by the end of this year.”
A holistic change in the approach of the industry, efforts at increasing awareness among women about the automotive operations, and targeted efforts from leading organizations are needed to bring the change and have more women workers in the auto sector.
How is MG Motor India working towards addressing this gap? What are some of the policies MG Motor India has in place to hire and promote women professionals in the company?
We have the right policies in place to recruit more and more females across various functions in the company. We had already tied up with some ITIs (Industrial Training Institute), Engineering Colleges and Institutes and we have started picking up candidates through campus placements for various functions. We have taken it as a policy and the intention is to set a new benchmark in the sector. We keep our employees at the center of everything we do, be it the policies we create or the initiatives we drive.
For MG Motor India, establishing an identity as a gender-agnostic organization is of utmost importance. One of the recent examples is through our recent initiatives where we, along with The Better India foundation, hosted the #MGChangemakers conference, highlighting the extraordinary stories of six women changemakers across communities and social strata who drove a positive transformation in the society. The overall intention of this program was to highlight our internal focus on diversity.
MG India aims to put female employees in key decision-making positions within the company, thus breaking the monotony of the industry by bringing some much needed female understanding and operational style. Considering our emphasis on promoting diversity, we have also received synergistic support through UN Women India MCO, an organization leading the cause of gender equality across the Asian subcontinent.
What are MG Motor’s core people strategy drivers?
We consider employees as the biggest asset of any company, we believe in motivating our employees and motivated employees always put in their best to achieve the organizational objective. We are here not to defeat anyone but to win everyone. We encourage free expression, collaboration, individuality, and diversity.
India is one of the world’s fastest growing automobile markets and MG aims to emerge as the go-to ‘next generation automotive company’ by employing the best minds that can come together to provide an unparalleled automotive experience.”
A focus on identifying the right talent early, remuneration as per talent and not industry standards along with an extremely transparent and free working environment help us to be popular in the industry-specific job market. Also, the brand name of MG (Morris Garages) facilitates employee acquisition and retention significantly.
Our intention is to stand out in the market place in terms of products, services, and man-power resources to deliver unmatched services. We provide multiple platforms to our employees to dedicate their time to work on innovative ideas. We ensure that the core values that drive our culture remain integral to our ecosystem so that our employees continue to feel as being part of a family. We are committed to providing an outstanding experience so that they feel valued and supported resulting in a highly collaborative and engaged workplace culture that fosters creativity and growth.
How has the hiring focus at MG Motor changed over the years? What is going to be your hiring focus in India?
We had already recruited more than 1,000 people so far for various functions and the intention is to have at least 1,500 people in place by the end of this year. The focus is on having the best in the industry so that we are able to provide unmatched products and services to our valued customers going forward.
Technology is impacting all fields including automotive services. What do you see will be the impact of technology on the automotive space especially when it comes to HR?
Operations in the automotive space are set to become more efficient as AI-driven machine and data analytics will provide granular level data to give insight on productivity.
When it comes to HR practices, there are various organizations which have already started employing AI-driven voice assistants and chatbots in the HR domain. These have proved to be of great use to the management in identifying the areas of concern for employees, both at an organizational level and individually.
However, the domain still requires human touch and empathy to be truly useful and as such, tech-driven resources will serve more as collaborators and facilitators to the human management, carrying out the basic tasks to allow individuals to focus more on critical matters.