Winds of change are blowing slowly across the shop floors of Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and Yamaha with women taking up tools to partake in the manufacturing of two-wheelers, hitherto a male bastion. As the call for women empowerment gets louder, these major two-wheeler manufacturers are responding with an aim to create a culture where women can stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts to contribute to the growth of the companies. Most importantly, the companies found that not only women were as good as men in manufacturing jobs, their presence improved the working atmosphere at the shop floors. In 2012, Yamaha Motor India experimented with ‘Pink Assembly Line’ initiative in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh government to run an assembly line for scooters managed entirely by women workers. Under the initiative, 200 women were hired to undergo an apprenticeship programme approved by the state government.After completion of the 3-year programme, today women workers at shop floors account for about 5-6 percent of the total of around 8,000 workers at its manufacturing plants.
Similarly, Hero MotoCorp initiated ‘Project Tejaswini’ to bring in women workforce in its manufacturing operations, while Bajaj Auto has an assembly line at its Chakan plant which is run by an all-women team producing high-end bikes like Dominar 400 and Pulsar RS 200. Recollecting how the ‘Pink Assembly Line’ initiative managed to shatter stereotypes, Yamaha Motor India Chairman Hiroaki Fujita told PTI: “Through this particular initiative we were also able to break the belief that women in North India were not open to working on shop floors in the factories.” The programme empowered women from weaker sections of society to stand on their feet and help them make an even larger contribution to their families and to their communities, he added. After running successfully for three years, the programme encouraged more women to join Yamaha’s factories, Fujita said. “I am proud to say that today we have managed to build a better culture in Yamaha where both males and females can work together on the shop floors and contribute in the most effective way towards the growth of the company,” he said.
Market leader Hero MotoCorp isn’t allowing itself to be lagging behind on this front as well.”We have successfully implemented ‘Project Tejaswini’ to introduce women associates at our shop floors,” Hero MotoCorp Chief Human Resources Officer Sanjay Jorapur said. He further said: “At Hero, we have more than 150 women associates in our three facilities – at Neemrana and Haridwar plants and at the Global Parts Centre (GPC).” For Hero MotoCorp, according to Jorapur, the initiative to bring more women at manufacturing is a “step towards becoming an employer of choice and a great place to work”.Bajaj Auto President (Business Development & Assurance) S Ravikumar said there are 313 women working in different plants of the company.
“At Chakan plant, which is our model factory we have an all-women line manufacturing high-end bikes like Dominar 400 and Pulsar RS 200. This shows the capability of women to do the highly skilled job even in manufacturing,” he said. Stressing that women as are good as their male counterparts, Ravikumar said: “One of the positives that we found is that working atmosphere improved substantially at shop floors with women joining the workforce.” The beginning has been made, he said, and many more women would continue to follow the path in future.