Hyderabad: Gender equality is important not only for the corporates but for the entire society. Cairn India Ltd. has always been a crusader for the socio-economic empowerment of women, especially in its operational areas. Below are some initiatives by the company in this direction:-
1 Skill development and employment opportunities
Through its 7 satellite centres, the Cairn Enterprise Centre (CEC) has provided various vocational trainings, career counselling, and linkage to employment opportunities to over 7,000youth and women since 2007. In the current financial year, 1241 people have been enrolled, 945 youths have completed academic and On Job Training and 905 trainees have been placed through the program. In an area like Barmer in Rajasthan where the community has limited employment opportunities, this program has been instrumental intransforming the lives of women.
1.1 Masonry and Dairy management training
In a move away from the usual vocational training courses for women, such as sewing or handicraft, Cairn India has empowered ~300 women to be trained masons. All these women also go through a provisional literacy program specifically designed for them. This ensures that after completion of the training, they are not only financially independent but can also face their social challenges more effectively.
At CEC’s Dairy Development Programme, ~1270 women have been trained and appointed to take care of the cattle and to ensure that the milk reaches the dairy centre on time. The programme has helped the local women uplift their socio-economic status significantly. Cairn has helped set up 18 SHGs having 342 members from the savings earned out of selling milk. These SHGs have been able to secure a loan of Rs 14 Lakhs from ICICI Bank for starting their entrepreneur setup like Flour mills, bangle shops, tailoring machines, grocery shops including re-investing back into the dairy business.
1.2 Success stories
The masonry training proved to be a boon for Shugni Devi’, a mother of three at Bhimda village in Barmer. Once trained, she could break the social barrier that prohibited the local women to go out of home for livelihood. Today, she and many other women masons like her are helping to build toilets as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Similarly, Chanchal Jain from a conservative family in Barmer aspired to establish her own identity at a very young age. The CEC helped her and many other youth from the region by training them for the entrance test for HDFC Bank, one of the largest private sector banks in India. A month long course not only honed their aptitude, numeric ability, and English language proficiency but also groomed their personality for the corporate life. Post the training at CEC, Chanchal was immediately selected by HDFC Bank. Today, she is a role model for many girls of her age in Barmer.
2 Promoting entrepreneurship
Another proven way to empower women in rural India is to establish Self Help Groups (SHGs). Women from the marginalized section of the community get together and form SHGs, which help them in times of need (emergency, disaster, social reasons, economic support, etc).The CEC also provides financial support to help these women to start their own businesses. Approximately 450 women have been trained under Agri NRM project and started growing vegetables for own consumption as well as selling in the market.
3 Access to safe drinking water
Considering that water is a scarce resource in the arid land of Thar, women need to walk miles to fetch drinking water for their families. This precious time can be used for other skill enhancing and income generating activities. Therefore, Cairn Indiaexecuted a major sustainability intervention to support the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) in providing safe drinking water to communities in Barmer and Jalore districts through Water ATW (Any-time Water) kiosks. Moreover, constructing water harvesting and storage tanks in villages of Rajasthan where Cairn India operates immensely benefited these women. Now they can devote more time to skill enhancement, family care and their own health.
As a result of the above initiative, reach of the safe drinking water doubled from 30,000 to 60,000 community members in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Average Water consumption also increased 3.5 times from 24,000 to 90,000 liters per day. This was accomplished by expanding the water distribution mechanism.
4 Providing direct employment
Surasaniyanam is a remote village in East Godavari district in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The Ravva JV onshore terminal, operated by Cairn India, is village’s first and the only tryst with industrialization.
Aunique women empowerment initiative by Cairn India in the village is — The Suraksha brooms making unit. Started in December 2014 with 6 women as direct beneficiaries, the unit today receives supply of raw sticks from about 120 economically weak households from the project area. The project has helped women, who are the driving force of this business, to save money, live a better life and educate their children.
5 Women health
Aimed at women and child wellbeing,Project Rachnaby Cairn India stands for Reproductive and Child Health Nutrition & Awareness (RACHNA). So far, it has been implemented in three blocks of Barmer district namely – Baitu, Sindhari, and Dhorimanna.
The project’s goal is to bring down the maternal and infant mortality, and to improve menstrual hygiene and reproductive health of adolescent girls and women in Barmer district. Under this project special campaign is being undertaken to educate the adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene management and addressing the myths associated with this key topics. Through this initiative so far we have covered and educated more than 600 adolescent girls (of both school going and non-school going girls) and developed exclusive puppet video to address this key issue.
Further, contributing to the Government of Rajasthan’s initiative of “BetiBachaoAbhiyaan”, Cairn India has introduced a unique campaign to celebrate the birth of a girl child around the operational areas. Under this campaign, the company presents a “New Born Baby Kit” to parents of the baby girl born in government hospitals and institutions. This kit consists of a clean towel, two sets of dresses, socks, toys, a mosquito net, and an immunization check-list. The kit also has a message embossed on how a baby girl brings happiness to the family. The campaign will increase awareness about the importance of institutional delivery that brings down the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.
6 Women leading the change
Cairn India believes that when women are empowered, they can be the change agent for the society. Therefore, through its various unique initiatives, the company aspires to enable more women to cross social barriers and chart out a new future for them, their families, and the society.
Drilling through the gender wall in the Oil & Gas industry
By – Madhu Srivastava, Deputy Head – HR& Admin, Cairn India and Head- Diversity & Inclusion, Vedanta Group
Despite a long (and ongoing) struggle for gender parity at work, many industries and job roles were not equally open and welcoming for women until recently. Traditionally, women were considered suitable for job roles that had fixed working hours, well-defined and comfortable working conditions, and most importantly- social acceptance. However, with the changing social landscape and mindset, the scenario has changed rapidly. Now there is no shortage of success stories of women who defied the social and corporate norms to accept and excel in various job roles considered unsuitable for women 15 years ago. But, not all the industries have got the same success with gender equality.
Oil and gas is primarily a male-dominated industry. Extreme working conditions like high or low temperatures, remote operation sites, and requirement to stay away from family for long periods does not let many women join the industry. Regardless of various industry initiatives to attract more women to join the oil and gas industry, the numbers do not tell a great story. An analysis conducted by LinkedIn in 2015 found that women make up just 26.7% of all oil and gas industry profiles on the professional networking site. This represents the lowest proportion in any of the dozen industries examined for this study. Healthcare has about 59.8% women while there were about 30.6% women with technology profiles.
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Another lady in the Men’s World?
Arpita Pandey, Petroleum Engineer at Cairn India
Arpita Pandey, started her journey with Cairn in June 2015. Prior to Cairn, she was associated with another Oil and Gas organization for 3 years. Moving to Cairn was all together a new and a different experience.
“I still remember my first day in Barmer when Arunabh Parashar introduced me to the field team- ‘One more lady in the Men’s World’, and my journey at Cairn begun. I was new to people, to the working condition,everything was too new for me at Cairn. But People of Cairn did not let me feel the same for a longer time. When I look back now I find my ‘Cairn Barmer’ journey as one of the most adventurous experience of my life. My bosses at Cairn have always been very supportive. They have always given me opportunities to learn new things and implement it on work. I am a proud Petroleum Engineer. It is only because I have got such a nice platform to perform. At Cairn, I got a chance to work on many other Petroleum Operations as well. I worked at isolated locations as well and never felt unsafe or uneasy. I believe that we like our work only when we like the surroundings and people around.
Above all, I feel privileged working at Cairn. This organization made me more robust and diligent. Now I am nowhere lesser than a Man…J
The above scenario does not paint the brightest picture for the industry. However, the silver lining in the cloud is thatour industry has realized the need to have a gender balanced workforce and have taken policy initiatives in the right direction. As a result, we can expect the career prospects for women in the oil and gas industry to improve significantly in the coming days.
Cairn India believes that Diversity and Inclusion are important pillars of a successful and sustainable organization. Women employees play a major role in bringing varied perspectives, collaborative decision making and ideas, and can collectively create superior outcomes for the business. Therefore, the company has in place best-in-class people policies and practices that create a conducive environment and foster a healthy gender diversity in the organization. There is for instance a clear mandate to focus on gender balance while hiring entry level talent from universities as well as lateral talent and also for appointing women in key revenue generating roles at the leadership level.
From Heels to Safety shoes…
Petroleum Engineer, Cairn India
Arpita recalls 14th July 2014 as her happiest day after being placed at Cairn India Limited. She wasn’t new to the firm as she had interned with the company.
It was during her internship, when she first heard of Barmer. A super exited young girl was all set to explore the oilfield. She had imagined working amidst sandstorms around the well in middle of sand dunes, until she came face to face with the reality.
“This three years long journey has never been a cake walk. Working in the extreme weather conditions, climbing up and down cellar pits was more like an adventure every day. These years havetaught mea lot, not only about the Oil and Gas industry but also about life as a whole.I learnt to work with different people in an industry dominated by men, at times even supervising them. ”
The company has in place best-in-class and progressive women-friendly policies in place. These include enhanced maternity leave of 6 months, adoption leave and paternity leave. Gender parity and inclusive opportunities are amongst our top organizational priorities. There is also a strong emphasis on preparing women for future leadership roles. For example-Tarang is a developmental program for women in leadership roles in Cairn India. Started as a program for individual development, it now covers the entire women workforce at the company, providing training on financial acumen, strategic thinking and business management.
Cairn India works towards reinforcing a culture where diversity of gender, thoughts, experiences, ethnicity, personal orientation, dis/ability status is valued by one and all. Cairn Diversity and Inclusion Council (D&I) has been tasked with responsibility of architecting the overall Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the Organization. It aims at achieving greater diverse representation all across the organization at all levels and geographies, through well-defined initiatives
Women bring a new dimension to thought leadership, execution and outlook to the business. They add immense value to projects and create teams that deliver outstanding results. Global insights demonstrate a strong positive correlation between gender diversity and business performance. Energy companies would do well to ensure more women on across the organization- not just in corporate offices but also on remote sites.