Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest producer of aluminium, has significantly expanded the ambit of workforce diversity by welcoming seven transgender professionals into the workforce at its Chhattisgarh-based subsidiary, the Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO). Four of them have been engaged in forklift operation at Cast House, and three others in the Security function at BALCO. This is a watershed moment in Vedanta Aluminium’s mission to foster a truly diverse workplace, for it puts the company among the handful of manufacturing companies in India and the world to have LGBTQIA+ employees in core operations.
Globally, the gender diversity ratio in manufacturing and heavy engineering industries has traditionally been low, and this deficit is quite acute in metals and mining. To build a diverse workforce, Vedanta Aluminium has been working extensively towards attracting high-potential women professionals to join its ranks. This year in March, the company embarked upon the mission to expand its recruitment ambit further and tap into LQBTQIA+ talent pool, who are yet to find acceptance in the mainstream and structured corporate world.
To ease their transition from the fringes of society to smart manufacturing plants, and help them evolve from semi-skilled people into professionals, Vedanta Aluminium has adopted a three-pronged approach, that includes:
Identification: BALCO worked with local NGOs and transgender community to conduct a skill mapping study and identify trans people with minimum required skills for working in a manufacturing industry.
Training: Post selection of such candidates, the company is taking them through an extensive training program aimed at honing the required skillsets, including soft-skills and business knowledge.
Building an empathetic & inclusive environment: Parallelly, BALCO is also conducting gender-sensitization sessions for its workforce, with respect to the social and psychological challenges of trans people, proper code of conduct and ways of working to build a cohesive and encouraging environment for all. This also includes ensuring required infrastructural augmentations.
Speaking about Vedanta Aluminium’s endeavours to tap into the LGBTQIA+ talent pool, Mr. Rahul Sharma, CEO – Aluminium Business, Vedanta Ltd., said, “Our markets, customers and businesses are diverse and complex. To match that, we believe in recruiting people with diverse points of view, experiences, skills, and education so that their business strategies are correspondingly well-rounded. And hence, we are now casting our talent acquisition net wider and looking to attract competent and ambitious LGBTQIA+ people to our workforce, for merit has no gender. Our objective is to build a wholesome culture, that makes our employees and partners feel welcomed, encouraged and empowered to deliver to the best of their potential.”
To address the prevalent gender gap and foster a culture of diversity & inclusion, in a manner that is sustainable, Vedanta Aluminium works on fundamental pillars of equitable workplace practices, such as:
- All job roles, no matter how non-traditional, are gender-agnostic and empowering.
- Employees are hired for their attitude, passion to learn and grow, and sound educational and technical qualifications.
- They are then provided with the best possible training from global experts and professionally groomed by the leadership. They are set up to succeed.
- High potential talent is provided with interventions such as classroom training, executive coaching, mentoring and put into accelerated developmental programmes.
- With world-class townships having ultra-modern amenities in the vicinity of the plants such as hospitals, schools, day-care centres, swimming pools, stadiums, gyms and advanced security systems, combined with industry-leading people practices, they are given an ecosystem designed to ensure they are supported at various life stages.
In response, the trans hires who have joined the forklift team, shared their personal experiences:
Bhawani Rathia says, “It has been over a month since my joining and I feel great to work here. The workplace environment is extremely helpful and supportive and is playing a crucial role in the enhancement of my skillset.”
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and a platform where we can demonstrate our potential and learn to grow further,” adds Aisha Vishwakarma.
Roopa Kurrey believes that the company is playing a significant role in bringing people from transgender communities to the mainstream by providing them employment opportunities.
Kanishka Sona has been having a wonderful learning experience. She says, “We are being given exposure to different departments under our training module. This is not only helping us in our primary induction procedure but is also helping us to understand the larger perspective of business operations.”
Vedanta Aluminium, a business of Vedanta Limited, is India’s largest manufacturer of aluminium, producing half of India’s aluminium i.e., 1.97 million tonnes in FY21. It is a leader in value-added aluminium products that find critical applications in core industries. With its world-class aluminium smelters, alumina refinery and power plants in India, the company fulfils its mission of spurring emerging applications of aluminium as the ‘Metal of the Future’ for a greener tomorrow.