The Women of Jendamark

The Women of Jendamark

Globally, the manufacturing sector is still male-dominated, and many companies struggle to attract skilled female candidates. But with digital technologies creating previously undreamed-of job possibilities, Jendamark is working hard to redress the gender imbalance.

The management teams in both India and South Africa have set clear targets to develop a diverse and inclusive workforce across all departments.

“In a perfect world, we would want a 50:50 ratio,” says Jendamark Automation human resources manager Mariette Geldenhuys.

“But we are hopeful that with the intake of more women through our skills development programmes, such as apprenticeships, we are actively working towards closing the gender gap, especially in the traditionally ‘male’ technical roles.”

The big picture
At Jendamark India, where women currently represent 7% of the workforce, the company has set an ambitious target of doubling this in the 2023 financial year. The aim is to employ at least one or two women in every department. “The advantages of having women in the workforce are manifold,” says JMKI’s head of HR, Pallavi Chavan.

“On a micro level, working women become financially independent and will have greater control over their own lives. This encourages women to stand against physical and emotional abuse, enabling them to handle social issues and pressures. At the macro level, greater participation of women in the workforce is good for the overall economy.”

In South Africa, women are one of the under-represented minority groups covered by the Employment Equity Act.

“In terms of affirmative action, we absolutely want to contribute to the success of various policies in this regard, but our aim is always to be an equal opportunity employer and appointments will be made according to experience and merit,” explains Geldenhuys, adding that female representation has grown from 16.9% to 24% in just two years.

Digital transformation
Both Chavan and Geldenhuys agree that the rise of Industry 4.0 technologies is transforming and creating new opportunities in the manufacturing space.

“In terms of innovation, women are adding great value, but a lot can be done to encourage young girls to enter into the fields of ICT, science and technology, which will enable them to apply for the various types of jobs that will inevitably be created by 4IR trends,” says Geldenhuys.

“It will become society’s duty to empower girls to be able to pursue these careers, specifically those in rural areas where access to technology is near non-existent.”

Employer of choice
According to the human resources professionals, diversity is becoming a strategic imperative for organisations looking to build a sustainable future. Women tend to bring a different dynamic to the workplace, with collaborative management styles and multi-tasking abilities, which fosters more balanced, motivated, and creative teams, helping the business to grow to its full potential.

“But this requires change from the top and, in Jendamark’s case, this change is being driven from exactly there. Being able to offer flexibility and a positive work-life balance by incorporating various policies and incentives will make a difference in attracting and retaining these skills,” Geldenhuys says.

Both agree that Jendamark’s flexible work-from-home policy, maternity leave benefits and empowerment programmes, such as self-defence training, are making a difference.

“Ultimately, our aim, when it comes to both male and female employees, is to be the employer of choice,” affirms Chavan.

Ma’am with a plan

Ma’am with a plan

From starting as key account manager for a previously unknown core business to setting up the whole Jendamark India marketing division, Sayali Mahajan’s career journey has certainly been a challenging one.

“Five years ago, I started my journey with Jendamark as a key account manager for catalytic converter assembly lines. The canning business was very new to India and nobody really had much of an idea of how it worked and what it takes to install a canning line. It was very challenging and exciting to go through the process. I also worked as a project manager for the first ever canning line delivered by Jendamark India.

Being a woman working in a hardcore manufacturing industry can be a bit tricky. Many times people tend not to take you seriously. We always have to put in extra efforts to prove ourselves and make our opinion or work valued. Personally, I have never felt that I am less than any man when it comes to my work as I have the knowledge of the products I am selling. I am also willing to learn and get better at it. I love my job and all the challenges that come along with it.

After my maternity leave, I was promoted within two months to head of marketing for Jendamark and all other associated business verticals, including ODIN Manufacturing, ODIN Education, eepos and Dobot. Before I came into the picture, there was no dedicated marketing person or team. Marketing activities were ad hoc but the rapid growth of our business has meant that leveraging the Jendamark brand has become a key function within the company.

It was a great experience building a team and creating marketing strategies for all the different business verticals as we knew we couldn’t have the same strategy for all.

I was adamant on hiring all women in my team. I am extremely proud of the fact that my entire marketing team is female. We are a ‘Girl Gang’.

Unfortunately, there is this mistaken impression, which many people have, that girls have it easy or we have to make less of an effort in our jobs. But the reality is that we are expected to deliver the same results as that of any male employee and even put in extra effort to get there as we have to take care of our work, our children and our families too.

After having my baby, I thought it would be a bit difficult for me to manage work and my child, as I have to travel a lot for my job. But flexible working hours and work-from-home facilities made it easier. My child is also very accommodating and co-operative. My baby is my biggest cheerleader.

My Jendamark journey has been an amazing rollercoaster ride. I have learned a lot, made use of all the different opportunities I’ve been given, and gotten to do so many new things. I am sure my next five years will be as exciting as the last five years.”