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3/8/2019
Women drive leadership at DACHSER India

Today, women around the world are celebrated for their achievements and remarkable abilities to balance different and evolving roles in society while being game changers at their workplace. DACHSER India showcases how successful empowerment of women at work can look like.
From left to right: Mili Chikhal, Head of HR Indian Subcontinent; Nipul Chandiwala, Financial Director South & South East Asia; Huned Gandhi, Managing Director Indian Subcontinent; Swapnali Kurale, Business Processes and Organization Manager India.

In the wake of International Women’s Day 2019, organisations and companies have been gearing up to celebrate this year’s campaign theme “Balance for Better” which focuses on building a more gender-balanced world with a call to action for gender balance in the workplace.

This is particularly relevant in markets such as India, where working environments often remain primarily male-dominated. That said, empowerment and equality have begun seeping into mindsets, and some companies are leading the charge in providing the same opportunities to all irrespective of gender. One of them is Germany based logistics company, DACHSER India.

Logistics has been a traditionally male-dominated industry which used to attract relatively more men than women. In the perception of many, daily working routines mostly include physical work under unfavourable conditions. On top of this, only around 29 per cent of Indian women work compared to about 82 per cent of the men, according to labour statistics. Both men and women have around the same access to higher education yet (around 27 per cent).

With technology easing work processes, an increasing number of women are attracted by the logistics industry, while administrative functions have been offering a broad spectrum of opportunities.

The growing number of women in both, logistics and leadership positions, also shows at DACHSER India where an increasing number of women hold senior management positions at the company today.

Huned Gandhi, Managing Director Air & Sea Logistics, Indian Subcontinent: “I am delighted to see women in DACHSER India taking the lead and managing several critical functions across the company.”

“I am delighted to see women in DACHSER India taking the lead and managing several critical functions across the company,” said Huned Gandhi, Managing Director of Air & Sea Logistics for the Indian Subcontinent.

“Contribution from women has become integral to DACHSER India’s success over the years, and their involvement is growing significantly as we move forward. In the future, we strive to see even more women in our teams, especially in the management team.”

Indeed, companies that hold this view are ahead of the curve and are benefiting their bottom lines, while also contributing significantly to the economy.

According to Catalyst, an international nongovernmental organisation that works to represent women’s interests in the workplace, if the rate of women who joined the workplace in India jumped to a mere 40 per cent by 2025, it could contribute an additional $700 billion to its GDP. This alone shows the importance of creating an equal opportunity workplace.

DACHSER India is one of the companies that have realised the importance of this and therefore seeks to empower women in the workplace.

“We appreciate a balanced leadership style which ultimately drives collaboration and the performance of teams. Women are very empathic and look at things from a different perspective,” Gandhi said. “Logistics is an interesting sector for women who have a structured and analytical mindset and technical affinity. That’s why we support and empower women on different career levels proactively,” he adds.

The company accomplishes this by firstly implementing a fair and gender-neutral hiring process and then ensures that women in any role get the right support.

Mili Chikhal, Head of HR Indian Subcontinent: “Equality starts from you if you believe you are equal.”

“DACHSER India is an equal opportunity employer, and we do not hire candidates based on their gender but based on their talent,” said Mili Chikhal, Head of HR for DACHSER, Indian Subcontinent. Chikhal, who has been with the company for four years and joined when she was 32, reached the pinnacle of her department at a relatively young age, in a very short time. She attributed her success to both, the support she received at home, as well as a very open work culture at DACHSER India.

“I come from a home where everything was equal for my brother and me. I never felt that I had certain restrictions and rules that were different from my brother because I was a woman, and this made me a strong and independent individual,” she said.
“At work, we have women working with men performing the same roles and handling the same responsibilities. There is no bias or differentiation for the roles and responsibilities based on gender, and we are involved in everyday work as any other man would be.”

Indeed, this is crucial feedback from many of the women working at the company that DACHSER India excels in creating an inclusive culture and is remarkably supportive towards women.

Swapnali Kurale, Business Processes and Organization Manager India: having worked 23 years at DACHSER India, she is famous for her in-depth knowledge of processes.

“DACHSER India has not only helped me to grow professionally at work but also personally,” said Swapnali Kurale, Business Processes and Organization Manager, India. “Wherever or whenever there was a need for guidance and support in my workplace, my seniors and the management were always with my colleagues and me, too.”

Kurale, who has worked with the company for a whopping 23 years, has been through various departments and as such has a real in-depth knowledge of the business. She joined in 1996 as a sea freight trainee and slowly promoted through the ranks. Today, she is considered one of the strongest female leads in the company. Her know-how, expertise and soft skills have made her one of the very few DACHSER Expert Network Air & Sea (DENAS) qualified employees in Asia Pacific. DENAS, a responsible and long-term oriented internal qualification, are operational experts who are continuously trained to support branches in mastering every-day challenges. They are essential contributors to shaping the company’s processes and future.

Kurale attributes her career success to the culture of the company that ensures women have just as many active roles and opportunities as men and having the support and guidance from managers and her seniors who supported her.

“Women are not treated differently,” she said. “The company has never distinguished anyone based on their gender, so there are no big struggles because the company has always supported me to overcome anything.”

One of the common reactions from the women working at DACHSER India is that management takes an active and leading role to make the working environment inclusive.

Harsha Prasher, Ocean Freight Manager of India North: dedication and solid IT know-how make services under her leadership grow each year.

Harsha Prasher, Ocean Freight Manager of India North, said that “management has worked to create a very professional, stress-free and motivating environment for all the employees”.

She said that the company has been an excellent place for her to grow her career because she can leverage her strengths to contribute to the fullest. Because of this, under her leadership, her division has been growing year on year. Beyond this, Harsha is appreciated for her excellent relations with carriers and customers ensuring healthy revenue is achieved every year.

Mona Gangakhedkar, Customer Service Manager: excellent planning skills and flexibility drive her success in handling big customers.

She is not alone to highlight DACHSER India’s culture and approach. Mona Gangakhedkar, who has worked at the company for more than eight years and is currently a Customer Service Manager also says that it is DACHSER’s top-down commitment to gender equality that has opened up so many opportunities for women in its workplace.

“I feel very positive due to the leadership and the open-door policy culture which DACHSER has at all levels,” she said. “Having worked for the company for so many years, I have seen that there is absolutely no discrimination in terms of gender, but that it’s all about performance: whoever is performing is being given the growth opportunity. That’s why there are many women in senior positions now.”

Gayathri Christopher, Customer Service Manager Tamil Nadu: deep knowledge in air and sea freight and strong communication skills enable her to manage customer service across Tamil Nadu.

There are many good examples within DACHSER India of women taking a strong lead and helping to take the company to the next level. Gayathri Christopher, Customer Service Manager for Tamil Nadu, is another. Having been with the company for almost six years, she is generating considerable gross profits every month for the Tamil Nadu Area while single-handedly managing an important global key account for the last year and a half.

“I have been given opportunities to grow and to explore new areas like key account management or being a branding sponsor which proves there are no boundaries for expansion,” she said. “Prejudice against women in the workplace doesn’t happen in DACHSER India, and there are many inspirations in the working environment. I am glad that I get to grow with the company.”

So, what are the critical lessons learnt from these industry leaders? Most of the women agree that to have a more gender-balanced workplace, companies today must assess talents based on their abilities rather than on their gender.

“Gender equality does not mean employing the equal number of male or female employees,” Christopher said. “Instead, it is about treating them equally and fairly. It is about judging a person based on their merit and not viewing them as inferior or superior based on their gender.”

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