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How this Cadbury Factory in AP is ensuring Gender Equality


It is a general assumption that factories and manufacturing units are dominated by male employees. While that is the usual norm across the world, one company that believed in a contrasting idea of having equal number of women workers has been more productive and efficient. Meet the women employees of the Cadbury’s Factor in Sri City SEZ in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. 
 
With heavy machinery on the factory floor being operated by women along with their male counterparts, this place sets an example to ensure gender parity at workplace. According to Vidya Kumar, plant HR lead at Mondelez India, Sri City started as a greenfield project. “We wanted to establish high-performance work systems at the facility. We felt gender parity will bring in the uniqueness to help us achieve that.”
 
While hiring women employees for this company, the officials approached locals in and around Andhra Pradesh. Vidya adds that “We interviewed these girls while most of them were still in college. Then brought in their parents to our facility to show them that Mondelez has built a safe and secure work environment for their daughters.”
 
To make the workplace safe and sound for women, numerous things are taken care of. There is a crèche facility for young mothers, medical centre that stays open 24/7, a gynaecologist visits the site every fortnight, women’s changing room is available in the ground floor and female restrooms are available on all the four floors, sanitary napkin dispenser mounted on the wall, company hostel is available 20 minutes from the plant.
 
Further, most factory machinery comes equipped with a vacuum lifter to aid women in lifting heavy bags. Only for pick-up and drop facilities and hostel food come at a subsidized rate, which is deducted from their salary.
 
For most of these women, it is their first job and money is empowering for them. The organisation also offers 6-12 month training programme in Bengaluru to make them comfortable with the industrial environment.
 
The manufacturing head at Mondelez India, Nandkumar Kulkarni says, “We give them technical training so that most of their factory work is not physical but that of adding value to the physical process by use of technology to bring consistency in cost, quality, safety, and delivery.” Interesintgly, when it comes to salary, there is no pay gap and all responsibilities are equally distributed to employees, irrespective of their gender.
 
The organization also conducts an annual campaign called Lakshman Rekha and the message is conveyed through street plays in Telugu to teach male and female workers about respecting gender boundaries at work.  
 
Taking a cue from the campaign, now 24-year-old Gopi Krishna understands the proper way of talking to women at work. “No gender is supposed to dominate the other. We have to respect each other’s role in the system. Sometimes women work harder than us,” he adds. 
 
Another employee Sarita, who works on the packaging line says, “If the Lakshman Rekha is crossed, women have the option to approach separate committees meant to hear such grievances.” For a change, women from these villages are tasting equality and comfort at their workplace.

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