BALCO, inclusivity is at the core of its aluminium operations

“Aluminium production is a team effort, and I am proud to contribute alongside my colleagues,” says Bhavani a trans-employee working as a forklift operator at BALCO. In Korba district of Chhattisgarh, there are many inspiring stories of empowerment, like Bhavani’s, that serve as beacons of hope for trans-persons in the community.

BALCO, India’s iconic aluminium producer and a unit of Vedanta Aluminium, boasts a workforce of 17 transgender employees, each sharing their journey of transformation from isolation to a strong sense of identity. From inducting 7 transgender employees in the year 2022, BALCO has marked a significant milestone in increasing inclusivity with its industry-leading people practices. These employees take on various roles, from forklift operations and store management to security positions, becoming vital contributors to BALCO’s operations and security.

Deepa vividly remembers her initial nerves when she started working in the security function at BALCO. While she takes pride in her job, she credits her supportive manager for helping her navigate challenges, helping her grow personally and professionally.

On the other hand, Akansha Soni, a supervisor in the forklift garage stated, “BALCO has been a guardian for all the hired transgenders.” She highlighted how job security can do wonders in boosting a person’s confidence and reflected, “BALCO has supported my dreams and helped me realize my potential. Today, my confidence drives me to work as a supervisor in the forklift garage, managing forklift operations with gusto. I also contribute to the safety of the plant by ensuring the highest standards of safety by promoting the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

Showcasing gratitude for the respect and identity she has received for her work, Akanksha recalls how her fear has transitioned into confidence, which gives her the ability to stand tall in society. Recalling the benefits of the gender reaffirmation policy, she further acknowledged “It used to take us years to plan and execute the gender reassignment surgery but with the support of BALCO’s policies, LGBTQ+ employees have got a benefit of 30 days of paid leave and compensation of 2 lakh rupees for the gender reassignment surgery.”

Speaking of the company’s reward and recognition policies, Ayesha, a security personnel at BALCO, said, “My performance here is duly recognized and appreciated. I have recently been awarded for my performance ensuring round-the-clock security in the plant. These kinds of recognitions motivate me to do better each day.”

Appreciating the initiatives, Ms. Vidya Rajput, a member of the Transgender Welfare Society and the President of Chhattisgarh Mitwa Sankalp Samiti, expressed her gratitude towards BALCO’s commitment to advocating and inspiring inclusion within and around its operations while setting a remarkable example for its peers to follow.

In its steadfast dedication to nurturing an inclusive workplace, BALCO adopts a strategic three-pronged approach. Firstly, the company embraces inclusive hiring practices, evaluating and identifying transgenders displaying appropriate skills essential for working within core operations through skill mapping studies. Secondly, it focuses on the comprehensive skill augmentation of operational skills, soft skills, and business knowledge to build their acumen for profound impact at work. Finally, BALCO enables an inclusive atmosphere through gender-sensitization sessions and gender-neutral infrastructure, cultivating a workplace culture that thrives on understanding and respect.

The ‘CII National HR Excellence Award 2023-24 for ‘Significant Achievement in HR’ is testament to BALCO’s consistent pursuit towards excellence in people practices and fostering an environment where every individual feels respected, valued, and empowered.

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