CHENNAI, India— At the six forty five am signal of the first shift, Quality Team Leader Padma Priya gets to her workstation at Ford India's Chennai plant. Working at the Quality section till the lunch break in the afternoon, she is constantly on her toes, checking the new cars rolling out for quality compliance and feeding the inputs in Ford's Quality Leadership System.
It's a challenging and rigorous role she carries out alongside her male employees, in addition to the hour-long commute to and forth and to her added role as wife and mother back home. "Work-life balance is out of my mind when I am at the Plant. There is so much to do here, and I am proud to be doing my job well," she quips from her workstation, before turning her attention to the next vehicle.
It is for women like Padma, that Voice of Women, the association of women workers in manufacturing was formed last year on International Women's Day and it has been growing stronger ever since. Formed to serve as a support group, the mission statement of VoW is to foster women empowerment and to energize women employees through motivation and mentoring.
"VoW focuses on the overall development needs of Women in Ford India, a diverse and relatively younger work force," said Vijaya Vijayalakshmi, general manager PVT and a VoW member. "We organise events in VoW's key areas of self-development: Fun, Health & Fitness, Work-life balance and Mentoring," she added.
To start with, four-week yoga workshops organised by VoW were a big hit among members. Sivasankari from Product Development of Ford India conducted these hour-long workshops every week helping to improve the fitness of employees.
Members have shown keen interest, with many more opting for the course than the number of available spaces. Such is their enthusiasm that employees from manufacturing stay late after their shifts to participate in the course. "Even though it is a stretch, Yoga sessions help us achieve fitness and peace of mind and I enjoy every minute of it," said Padma who earlier found it difficult to get the privacy and peer-support to learn Yoga elsewhere. "Here I learn and practice among my workmates, and have now started feeling fitter by the day. Now it's difficult to miss a session."
The association plans to conduct several recreational and welfare activities for its members in the coming days. In recent months its health camp and lecture on Gynaecology and logo contest saw enthused participation from members.
VoW also has identified the need for leisure and enjoying fun times together as a key need for employees and this was very evident at its first-ever offsite gathering. Held on a Saturday afternoon, away from pressures of work and home, there was much joy and revelry as women shed their shyness and took part in creative expressions of their personalities. While some took turns to croon the latest Tamil and Hindi numbers on a Karaoke, others danced to foot-tapping music while others joined a fascinating Yoga performance. New women employees were warmly welcomed into the VoW fold by cutting a cake.
"We never knew there were so many multi-faceted talented individuals amongst us. This is a unique chance for us to get together regularly, network and share our inspirational stories among other women at work." said V. Karthika, head of Legal department, and a member of VoW.
"In keeping with Ford's promise of Going Further we see the VoW as a great forum where we can support each other and contribute to the ONE FORD goal," Karthika added.View All Ford Employee Profiles
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