It was early 2015 when Tata Steel launched its diversity and inclusion initiative, called Mosaic, for its Indian operations. One of the first discussions on the platform was the problems that women face in manufacturing companies and the need for equal opportunity for them in the company. The company got the state government's approval to allow women in mines in all three shifts at the Noamundi iron ore mine in Jharkhand. It has also started two shifts for women at its Jamshedpur plant shopfloor from April last year. Another unique move is its menstrual leave policy, called 'Raahat'. Suresh Dutt Tripathi, VP, Human Resource Management, Tata Steel, says that they are not able to deploy women employees in all three shifts in many manufacturing locations due to legal constraints. "If the permissions are in place, we will implement the pro-women policy in all operating locations of Tata Steel." The company plans to increase the share of women employees to 20 per cent by 2020 from 11 per cent now, and to 25 per cent by 2025.
The steel maker wants to build an inclusive and progressive work environment through employee-friendly initiatives. "We have introduced flexible work hours from this financial year, which is considered difficult for a manufacturing company. We have also rolled out a new HR policy that enables our colleagues from the LGBTQ+ community to declare their partners and avail HR benefits, which are applicable to the spouses of the employees," says Tripathi.
The company exercises positive discrimination to induct as many people with disability (PwD) as possible. "But we still have some distance to cover in this in the facilities. While it is not particularly difficult, it can be unsafe unless we are 100 per cent sure where we can deploy specially-abled people," he adds.
Tata Steel has 30,000-plus employees in India. The steelmaker has been reducing manpower in the UK because of reduced business, but has recruited about 4,000 in India in past six years, primarily for its 3 million tonne plant in Kalinganagar. Tripathi says that 42 per cent of the workforce in India is millennial and shows the vibrancy.
The company also offers opportunities that only a few others do. For instance, when IIT Mumbai graduate Hemant Gupta wanted to pursue a career in adventure, after completing two years at Tata Steel, in 2013 he shifted to Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. Trained under Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest and the foundations director, Gupta climbed the Everest in 2017.
"We promote a culture of self-learning and discovering career possibilities in Tata Steel's ecosystem, amplifying and expanding roles to bring impact and value. To support talent, we introduced a career conversation framework which focuses on 'Know Talent, Flow Talent, Grow Talent'. It helps employees to achieve their career aspirations with the help of seniors and mentors," says Tripathi.
These changes are in tandem with the companys own growth. Over the last couple of years, it has expanded the Kalinganagar plant and acquired Bhushan Steel (renamed as Tata Steel BSL) and Usha Martin's steel business. The acquisitions have led to a multitude of opportunities for employees. "We have developed policies that take care of the ambitions of shop-floor employees to senior executives," says Tripathi.
Tata Steel ensures that the values of the company are an integral part of the culture and the HR policies are framed according to the country and local laws. When the company had to cut the workforce in Europe and renegotiate the pension scheme about two years ago, "we took employees into confidence before making any changes. The employees and the unions were also well aware of the business scenario and it helped our process easier."
Tata Steel looks to create an ecosystem that enables innovative thinking with respect to work, workforce and workplace. "We are in multiple industries: mining, steel making, marketing and sales, logistics, services and finance. If an employee desires, he or she can have multi-industry exposure. We have internal job postings and rotations, which helps us source talent internally," says Tripathi. With business getting diversified in view of expansion and acquisitions, they expect more opportunities to be available to employees across roles. "We don't differentiate based on the criticality of the business. We ensure that performance is measured based on impact created by the role holder," says Tripathi.
Strategies are re-visited frequently to suit business requirements. Employees are required to submit their developmental plans at the beginning of the financial year, and depending on requirement, they are sent for different kinds of programmes and coaching.
A strong and consistent culture is also why the company has "people from the fifth generation of families of our past employees, who worked when the company was established in 1907," he says, adding that the retention rate at the company is 96 per cent, better than the industry average.