Amazon scales up efforts to increase its women workforce in India

E-commerce giant Amazon is scaling up its efforts to increase the number of women workforce in India and towards building diversity at the workplace. The firm is putting the spotlight on women employees, associates, and partners who have not only fought societal, cultural, disability, and economic barriers to achieve their dreams but are also redefining the powerful role of a woman in the fast-paced e-commerce industries. These include women frontline employees which are also increasing.

“We have redoubled our efforts as an organization. It becomes very crucial, as corporations (have) lost women workforce during this time (Covid), how do we really make sure that we are really putting the right programs to attract women back into the workforce,” said Swati Rustagi, Director, DE & I, International Markets, WW Consumer, Amazon. “It is also a very difficult transition for people working from home to start coming back to workplaces, create hybrid models, schools are starting up. How do you really support in terms of caregiving and provide multiple mechanisms for employees to cope with all the changes happening all around, I think that’s been a big focus for us.”

One such initiative is ‘rekindle’ to provide a launchpad to women who have taken a break in their careers due to any circumstances. Through this initiative, Amazon India aims to provide opportunities and support women to professionally re-integrate themselves and resume their corporate careers. Structured onboarding, focused mentoring, flexible work options and on the job learning are key elements to help potential candidates in ramping up.

There is also Pinnacle and Transcend leadership development programs that aim to provide ample opportunities, or in other words, a launchpad for women in the middle management to grow into leadership roles. Through coaching circles and mentorship programs, Amazon expands women leaders’ reach and makes them feel more valued and connected. Another program is ‘Sunshine’, which enables women leaders from across the board to engage and offer their mentorship to new talent.

Amazon WoW is a networking platform for women engineering students in India. The platform provides the participants with an opportunity to interact with Amazon leaders on essential skills, participate in workshops, connect with alumni on career experiences and opportunity to apply for roles at Amazon. The objective of the platform is to help women engineering students build long-term careers in technology.

“At campuses, we are mentoring women in science and technology and really encouraging them to have a career in science,” said Rustagi. “Because this has been a challenge for India, where we have a large number of women who graduate in science and we don’t see that translated into the workforce.”

Amazon’s Ramp Back Program enables employees to transition smoothly to work post their maternity and paternity leave. This helps them ease their way into working full time without getting overwhelmed.

“What we are especially proud of is through this period whether it was during the pandemic or post-pandemic, we consistently made significant strides on our employee representation,” said Rustagi. “Be it for women or persons with disabilities and for individuals with different sexual orientations. More specifically two pilots that are very close to our heart have been: Pilot with Transgender and Pilot with young adults with learning disabilities and those continue to be a big focus for us as we go into 2022.”

Such initiatives are present across Amazon India’s operations network. To engage with women and create unique job opportunities in the logistics space, Amazon Delivery Service partners in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh run all women delivery stations. Women deliver packages on two-wheelers, covering a radius of 2-3 km from the delivery station. Also, the first silent station was launched in Mumbai in January 2017, in partnership with Mirakle Couriers, a Delivery Service Partner. Today this dedicated Silent Delivery Station is completely managed and run by these associates. The second silent station was launched in Mumbai in June 2018.

Amazon also piloted an initiative designed to create opportunities for persons with hearing impairment in its fulfillment center (FC) in Hyderabad. The pilot started with a handful of associates with hearing impairment, who were trained to pack shipments at the FC. This initiative has now expanded to more than eight cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Indore, Mumbai, Pune, and Hyderabad. The firm said its operations team has created opportunities for transgenders in its operations network including fulfillment centres, sort centers and delivery centres.

“We haven’t focused our gender efforts on a type of job or profession where women are easier to be compared to others,” said Rustagi. “When we say that we have a great number of women working for us and we are making great strides in coming very close to being an Equal Employment Opportunity employer, I mean that, in jobs, (related) to frontline, office, and leadership . We are also looking at women partners and sellers. These are very wide programs and in each of these sections we are driving significant goals to gender parity.”

Amazon India said it is also committed to creating opportunities for military veterans across various functions of our operations network as well as fulfillment centres, sort centers and delivery Centers in India. In addition to this, Amazon’s Military Ambassador Program (MAP), focuses on the specific development needs of veterans and provides tailored training experiences to support them in their transition.

The firm has also set up All-women Virtual Customer Service (VCS) center in Bengaluru. Through this initiative, Amazon India is providing women with a channel to integrate themselves into the professional world as well resume their careers. These include homemakers, new mothers, or single parents. The program will provide them with opportunities to continuously leverage their skills, strengths, and capabilities, from the comfort of their homes.

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