Glass Ceiling in Industrial Relations – Has The Time Come For Eradication?



Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait, an HR professional, highlights the reasons for women to be behind in the Industrial work force and reasons why they would succeed more than men here.

As an HR professional when I read that women have entered all spheres of corporate world, it really makes me proud. At the same time it triggers my thoughts too.Have they really occupied all top positions? There may be many other portfolios where women may not have been given appropriate place,but being from HR background my thoughts are really restricted to my profession. When I think further from my experiences I conclude, yes,they have but for one challenging and the most important profile-Industrial Relation in a Manufacturing Plant.

While over the years the IT and ITES sectors have been in the limelight, there has been a recent refocus on the manufacturing sector. As C.K.Prahlad puts,” there are only two priorities for India-creation of 10-15 million jobs and growth of 10-15 % per year”. The volatility of IT sector, recent IR unrest in some major organizations has added a shift of focus for Industrial Relations in Human Resource Management.

While all the corporate portfolios have been conquered by women there still is a vacuum when it comes to Industrial Relations. The supposedly most challenging portfolio which can be better handled by women is still poised by the fairer sex.The complexity, lack of modernization and inflexibility of labour laws had time and again prevented women from handling the Plant Managers position.Does this thought come from the mindset that a female IR Manager in plant cannot handle 500 odd blue collared workers? Well if that is the case, when a female CEO of a multi-national organization can handle nationwide operations then what would restrict an IR Manager to handle a plant. Maybe opportunity or what else?

Men Women Ratio

However the fact that, efficiency can be enhanced with women workforce and shop floor issues can be drastically minimized cannot be ignored. With the automation in the entire major manufacturing organizations it is quite an easy job for women to handle and manage the shop floor activities. While many of manufacturing MNCs have initiated the entry of women in their shop floor, India still remains much behind in this approach compared to western countries due to their conservative mindset that women cannot work in shifts and may find it difficult to design and execute policies in the plant where there is a domination of men. However my personal opinion has always been that a lady who can manage all knitty-gritties, politics and nuances in a family would be able to easily deliver her best at the shop floor.

The opportunities provided in this portfolio might be the empowerment in true sense for women and that is when I would consider that women have entered in all facets and portfolios of HR. Going forward I would really like to read the experiences of female managers and workforce who are placed in shop floor of the Plant.

And as Peter F.Drucker has rightly said – The best way to predict the future is to create it. The best way to empower women is provide opportunities in all facets without any fixed mindsets.


3 thoughts on “Glass Ceiling in Industrial Relations – Has The Time Come For Eradication?

  1. Vijay Singh

    Really I apreciate the good effort of females in HR , but some complixe are behind that only corporate domain are handle by woman two things are most important they are making policy based on management system because they have done the study course on management base . I really very much
    Impress of Ms. Iyer Comment about women Pogress on HR
    My Suggestion to Upgrade yourself on the following :
    HR Professional must have a good leadership and positive influance on the people.
    Must have transparent policy
    To develop fruitful cultural in the organisation.Open Mined
    Walk with talk with the people
    Must have excellent knowledge of legal law related to labour law make company policy accordingly.
    To Develop the people according to requirement of the Management
    Softspoken language
    Globally Management system
    Think about Welfare of employees.
    Please feel free to Ask Any Querry related HR,IR Subject.
    With Best Regards
    Vijay Singh
    Vijay Singh


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