As Flipkart gears up for its annual mega sale, Big Billion Days, a large number of women are silently leading from the front as part of its supply chain.
Flipkart began its journey to enable active participation of women in the supply chain in 2017 with Project Vividhta. Within three years of the launch of this initiative, women are employed in host of roles across the supply chain, including sortation, packaging, supervision, and last-mile delivery.
Today Flipkart has women-only shifts, called the Pink Shifts, at the sortation centres or mother hubs (MHs) across cities and has employed women delivery executives for delivering furniture and large appliances to consumers’ homes.
In the current scenario, its initiatives are also helping women ward off the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and earn a livelihood, thereby making them financially independent. For many of these women, this will be their first festive season experience as a salaried employee.
Krishna Raghavan, Chief People Officer at Flipkart, says, “As consumers from across the country rely on ecommerce to fulfill their festive shopping needs, their shipments will be checked, packed, sorted and delivered by the diverse workforce of thousands of Flipkart supply chain employees, including women who are pursuing careers in supply chain across a wide array of roles.
“As an equal opportunity employer, Flipkart is working to make its supply chain more diverse and inclusive. These women form an important part of the larger workforce diligently working towards bringing festive cheer.”
A few days ahead of its festive Big Billion Days sale, HerStory spoke to three women in Flipkart’s supply chain, as they gear up for the annual festival, braving challenges in the time of coronavirus, and taking pride in their jobs.
Sumathy Nagendran, Hub-in-charge, Chennai Mother Hub
After completing her BE in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Sumathy Nagendran joined a project for VIP bags straight from campus. This was her first introduction to supply chain management.
“I grew up watching a lot of shows on logistics on Discovery Channel and my aim was to join this field,” she says.
After moving back to Chennai from Mumbai, the 25-year-old joined Flipkart a year ago at its Mother Hub. As in-charge, she supervises a team of 110 people on a 6am to 3pm shift, oversees day-to-day operations on the floor.
Ahead of Flipkart’s Big Billion Days, the hub is the centre of activity. “We have planned in advance on how we are going to manage the workload, process a large number of shipments, and satisfy customer needs,” Sumathy says.
The pandemic has not been an easy time. Sumathy says all safety measures like “individual transport, screening, sanitisation” are in place to make life safer and easier.
“Being on the floor is a good lesson in people management. I am looking forward to becoming a manager in the future and learning something new every day,” she adds.
Mohima Khatun, Wishmaster, Howrah, West Bengal
Twenty-four-year old Mohima Khatum is a Flipkart wishmaster at this new hub in Howrah. Besides being the only woman working in a team of 20 at the hub, she also handles large deliveries like furniture and home appliances. She is also a footballer playing for East Bengal.
“I was able to study only till my second year of graduation. After my father passed away, I had to take on the responsibility of my family, including my mother and sister,” she says.
She joined Flipkart three months ago but soon tired of a desk job and asked to be put on the delivery team. She works for six pin codes and handles around 16-17 deliveries in a day.
“Many times, I am asked how I manage to lift heavy packages. I tell them it’s a part of my job,” she says with a laugh.
As for the pandemic, she has just one pragmatic answer. “How can you work if you are afraid? It’s better to be safe and continue working.”
A footballer since the age of 13 and having played at national and international levels, Mohima hopes, post-pandemic, to be a coach. She wants to continue working at Flipkart and help her family financially. Mohima also wants to inspire other women to take up wishmaster jobs.
Ashwini DN, Senior Assistant, Fulfilment Centre, Malur, Karnataka
At Flipkart’s Fulfilment Centre in Malur, Karnataka, Ashwini’s day starts with mandatory safety checks such as temperature screening, sanitisation etc, after reaching the facility.
“We do a morning team huddle before we start work, where priorities for the day are discussed. We then proceed to our assigned parking station in the hub and commence work. As I am in charge of packing products, I receive the details of the product that is to be packed and instructions on the size of packaging that needs to be used on my computer,” says the 23-year-old senior assistant.
Back home, Ashwini helps her mother with household chores and finds time to study for her exams.
The youngest in her family of five, Ashwini is self-funding her own studies and aims to ultilise this opportunity of working in a high-octane environment to fulfil her dreams of joining the police force.
“The Big Billion Days is a learning experience for everyone. It teaches us to perform in a high-pressure environment and is a fascinating experience to witness the magnanimity of this event,” she says, adding that these learnings would help her become a sub-inspector.
“My aim is to become a sub-inspector. I’m already in the midst of the selection process and have cleared my physical evaluation rounds. I am awaiting my written test now. From the salary I receive from Flipkart, I am saving a part to buy books. My goal gives me the motivation to fight harder every day. I look forward to achieving my dreams and making my parents proud,” Ashwini says.
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