Article: Women on the Shop Floor: Alstom Case Study

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Women on the Shop Floor: Alstom Case Study

Vinod T. Varghese, Director of Human Resources, Alstom India & South Asia, throws light on some of the company's human resources policies supporting women working on the shop floor.
Women on the Shop Floor: Alstom Case Study

The manufacturing industry, especially heavy engineering, has low or no opportunities for women on shop floors.  Being an ‘equal-opportunities’ organization, not having women workers on the shop floor would have been an anomaly for Alstom.  

Currently, Alstom India’s shop floors comprise 18 percent women approximately. These women work across various roles of supervisor, planner, incoming inspection, QMS engineers, and fitting engineers in job sectors across quality, supply chain, testing & commissioning, production & assembling, etc. Alstom India’s 2020 vision is to have at least 25 percent women in the workforce. This vision is aligned with the company’s global diversity and inclusion strategies. 

Below is the case study of Alstom on attracting and nurturing the women working on the shop-floor, an area which was considered as a male bastion. 

Why Women on Shop Floor?

Promoting women on the shop floor and off it is part of Alstom India’s People Vision. The hiring and HR initiatives are directed to achieve this common goal. Varghese believes that it benefits the firm in multiple ways. Women are creative, innovative and have better customer orientation. All these factors contribute to increased profitability in ingenious ways. Other companies can also benefit from the right strategy to attract and retain high-performing women.

Varghese shares, “We want them to rise up the ranks and lead initiatives. Job shadowing and experience sharing helps in creating a culture that fosters an environment where unique strengths thrive and generate aspiration for women employees. Our leaders also coach them regularly through workshops, and we encourage them to develop and improve their technical skills to unleash their full potential. It helps our female workforce to build confidence, and in a few years, maybe, they will aspire to become Factory Head.”

Promoting Women on Shop Floor:

Hiring, onboarding, and skilling are important step-by-step processes at Alstom that are focused on making women employees feel comfortable and welcome into the organization.

To keep women employees at ease, for shop floor jobs, the company conducts regular campus recruitment from polytechnic colleges in Tamil Nadu and Kerala that are close to industrial sites. This improves our employee retention efforts. The company also ensures that there is sufficient representation of women workforce in almost all shop floor functions. Exposure to senior female colleagues builds confidence. This is designed to make new joinees comfortable in approaching a senior staff member to tackle any issue. 

The initial experiences lay the foundation for productive employment and hence, the company conducts a two-day induction program at their Bengaluru Regional Centre that educates new employees about the organization, products, and services, cultural values, facilities, IT relevant tools, E&C, health & safety, etc. New employees on the shop floor go through a structured 15-day Technical (Special Process) & Behavioral Training. It familiarizes them with the company’s standard processes and protocols. They also go through regular skill validation workshops that help them identify scope for improvements. 

Promoting a Safe Environment:

Alstom feels high safety, and health standard at work is as essential as good business performance. The higher the standards of the work environment, the better are an employee’s performance. 

To propagate safety and quality environment for women employees, all Alstom India facilities are kept under CCTV surveillance. The company also provides transportation with security personnel for female staff for all shifts.

The organization invites local police to conduct awareness sessions on women safety and legal procedures once every quarter. The company also organizes Women’s Grievance Committee/POSH meetings.

Alstom India’s site MD/HR conducts a special session during quarterly town hall meetings to discuss issues faced by women employees. The forum addresses problems at the ground level. These sessions create an environment of mentorship and learning, where men and women are open to each other’s inputs while being mindful of their behavior.  

Alstom India has two manufacturing facilities in the South. One at Sricity, Tada—the metro train manufacturing facility and another in Coimbatore, which is a train traction manufacturing facility. At both the facilities, the company has a holistic support system to drive diversity on the shop floor. 

Varghese shares, “We want them to rise up the ranks and lead initiatives. Job shadowing and experience sharing helps in creating a culture that fosters an environment where unique strengths thrive and generate aspiration for women employees. Our leaders also coach them regularly through workshops, and we encourage them to develop and improve their technical skills to unleash their full potential. It helps our female workforce to build confidence, and in a few years, maybe, they will aspire to become Factory Head.”

Image Credits: genewsroom.com

Topics: Hiring, Diversity, Training & Development

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