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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Women's Day .. powerful business women ....all women Pump unit of Kirloskar

Forbes is an American business magazine owned by Forbes, Inc. Published biweekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, and law. Its headquarters are inNew York City. The magazine is well known for its lists and rankings, including its lists of the richest, most powerful etc.,

Despite plunging oil prices and a weakened euro, the ranks of the world’s wealthiest defied global economic turmoil and expanded yet again.  Forbes reports that for their 29th annual guide to the globe’s richest,  they found a  record 1,826 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion, up from $6.4 trillion a year ago.  The total includes 290 newcomers, 71 of whom hail from China.  Bill Gates is once again the richest person on the planet, a title he’s held for 16 of the past 21 years. His fortune grew $3.2 billion since last year to $79.2 billion, despite a gift of $1.5 billion in Microsoft MSFT -1.69% shares to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2014. Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico comes in again at No. 2 while revered American investor Warren Buffett took back the No. 3 spot from Spain’s Amancio Ortega (now No. 4).

Then there is the ‘50 powerful businesswomen in Asia’ a compilation of Forbes.  Six Indians find place in  that list of ‘Asia’s Power Businesswomen 2015’. A businesswoman from Chennai too figures in this illustrious list.  It is Akhila Srinivasan, Managing Director, Shriram Life Insurance Company Ltd., alongside,  Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman and Managing Director of State Bank of India, and Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank. The other three are: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder, Biocon; Shikha Sharma, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Axis Bank; and Usha Sangwan, Managing Director of LIC of India.

Away from the list of women in boardrooms, Germany on Friday became the latest and most significant country  to commit to improving the representation of women on corporate boards, passing a law that requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30 percent of supervisory seats to women beginning next year. Fewer than 20 percent of the seats on corporate boards in Germany are held by women, while some of the biggest multinational companies in the world are based here, including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler — the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles — as well as Siemens, Deutsche Bank, BASF, Bayer and Merck. Supporters said the measure has the potential to substantially alter the landscape of corporate governance here and to have repercussions far beyond Germany’s borders.
Manuela with Angela Merkel

In passing the law, Germany joined a trend in Europe to accomplish what has not happened organically, or through general pressure: to legislate a much greater role for women in boardrooms. “If there are no equal opportunities at the top of companies, there are none in other areas either,” said Family Minister Manuela Schwesig, according to the Associated Press. Despite having a female head of government, Angela Merkel, none of Germany’s 30 most prominent companies are run by women.  Germany joins a slew of other European countries that have set quotas for female corporate directors, including Belgium, Norway, Spain, France and others, the New York Times reports.

Moving away from the list, Forbes blog reports of ‘power women’ of different sort – that is closer home.  It’s a tribute to an all-women combine in the village of Moperipalayam near the southern Indian city of Coimbatore. Here,  a group of 65 women manage the shop floor – assembling domestic water pumps at a plant run by the $2.1 billion (revenues) Kirloskar Group of Pune. The women – in the age group of 19 to 30 – produce nearly half a million pumps per year. The rejection rate is less than one in 20,000 pieces. The interesting part is that each pump is assembled in 17.25 seconds. The women complete a set of 24 operations in that time. They are now working on reducing the assembly time to a mere 10 seconds per pump.

This feat won a mention in the Limca Book of Records (the Indian equivalent of the Guinness Book of World Records) in 2014. At that time they had reduced the assembly time for a pump from 60 seconds to 20 seconds.  In 2011, Kirloskar set up this all-women plant as an experiment to see how women would do on the shop floor. The employment of women in manufacturing is very low and he wanted to see if he could do something in a small way. It also came from a realization on the ground that in the case of domestic pumps it is often the women who ended up facing the brunt when a home pump went down. If a water motor failed in the house the woman would have to draw water from the well or fetch water from a public tap. So there’s a huge vested interest in having the motors running in the house.

So the company trained a few local women. Slowly, it grew into this all-women venture. The Kirloskar Group provides two months of industrial training to the women – who are mostly school drop outs. I never knew this, before reading this from Forbes, though it is happening in Tamil Nadu.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for ‘ ‘ global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women – and I thought of this post for the occasion !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7th Mar 2015.

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