Intent and Progress at a Varying Pace
TELCO, now Tata Motors (one of the largest automobile manufacturers in India), put out an advertisement for job opening in early 1970s that said “Young energetic engineers required. Ladies students need not apply.” Corporate India has come a long way since then. Though it is too early to conclusively say if the mindset has changed for good when it comes to not just hiring women but also ensuring equal pay and deserved representation at the senior management level, certainly, progress is slowly visible.
To prove that there is progress, we need data to back this inference. As Narayana Murthy, the Founder of Infosys Technologies, said “In God, we trust. Everyone Else, bring data…” Quantum Advisors has been working on building a proprietary ESG scoring mechanism as a part of its overall objective of leading responsible investing in the public equities space since 2015. Over the next few months, we will share insights into Corporate India.
For a start, here is a sample set of three auto companies in India with specific focus on women representation in the workforce.
Women participation in workforce: This is from Bajaj Auto’s, a reputed and one of the largest two-wheelers producers in the world, 2020 Annual Report. “Half a decade earlier, we had very few women in our plants and in the engineering workforce. Around FY2014, we decided that it was time for a change. Our women employee strength has grown almost four times since then — from 148 in FY2014 to 595 in FY2020. Of them, 535 women are working in manufacturing plants and in engineering. Our female employees are now doing jobs which were earlier thought of as ‘men only’ activities like dynamic testing of bikes on dynamometers. We have chosen a path and begun. More needs to be done…”
Women participation in decision making: The chart below is an excerpt from TVS Motors’ Annual Report of 2020. TVS Motor is one of the top three two-wheeler manufacturers in India. Creditably, unlike some of its peers, TVS at least shared the participation of women in key decision making areas. We are pretty sure that if one scans Corporate India, this is pretty much a standard and not an exception.
Quantum’s experience of building its proprietary ESG scoring so far is that data is inconsistent. In the above two examples, both companies do not report women representation in the workforce in the same way. In this complex maze of permanent, temporary and contract employees, companies seem to miss the broader need for better quality of disclosures. So far, not only is the data on women in workforce inconsistent, the data on gender pay is totally absent. This is why we engage with our portfolio companies actively to encourage them to publish more data.
As a part of this process, Quantum Advisors recently became a member of Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) recently (link to the website https://shareaction.org/workforce-disclosure-initiative/). The Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) aims to improve corporate transparency and accountability on workforce issues. The objective is to bring Quantum’s long track record investing in India and WDI’s global understanding on workforce related issues to engage with Indian companies and nudge towards better/wider disclosures. Watch this space for more.
Disclaimer: The stocks/securities discussed above have been featured purely for illustration purposes. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell these stocks.