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Beyond bricks: Jindal Steel Company's effort towards inclusion of local communities

When Jindal Steel Works expanded its work to Bellary district, a small village in North Karnataka, it had more than just the success of the steel plant on its mind. In 2005 the company was already thinking about the communities around the plant and the ways in which it could meaningfully impact their lives. While the Jindal group of companies lead the infrastructure power and cement segments in the country they did not have any BPM expertise to set up and run a BPM operation. Yet, the steel giants decided to take the growing BPM industry advantage to the young girls from a small village under their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. Through its IT arm J Soft, the company set up a 20 seater BPM for young girls to have access to opportunities beyond brick lifting and other unorganised work. The BPM centre began handling data entry processes for Lason Pvt Ltd to start with. Today the centres handle processes like healthcare insurance, XML coding, scanning & indexing, image tagging (for online shopping) , data tagging-publishing with 150 at non voice centre + 200 voice data centre with English speaking seats providing opportunities to young girls in the community and empowering them.


What is truly unique about the centres set up by the company is that the girls employed at the BPM had never set their eyes on a computer before joining. Also most of them are matriculates only. This meant the girls had to be taught typing skills for two to three months before they could be put on dummy projects. Most of them now have a certification and are training and supervising the newcomers. Rafia Sultana is one such supervisor who is earning Rs 4,500 per month. She could be just another girl in the local community except that she would have spent her life trying hard to get a regular job or would have worked in the unorganised sector or worse still never left her home since she is polio inflicted. The BPM provided her an opportunity to overcome all obstacles to learn typing and computing. She is now a supervisor who manages 20 girls.1Presently, girls at the BPM are earning between Rs 2,000 and Rs 7,000 per month depending on their experience and efficiency. Candidates are recruited through advertisements in local newspapers by community interactions that are done by Jindal Foundation volunteers who meet village heads, institutional heads from nearby schools.


The company has developed a training model for young girls that includes typing skills, basic computer knowledge, English classes, personality development activities and process related knowledge. For non-voice processes the training lasts for three months after which they are put on trial. In voice BPM the training is for one month by certified trainer’s post which they are put on job. They are trained in English and other common languages which are prevalent in India.


The centre has tied up with IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) and an English language institute to upgrade skills of these girls so that they can get better paying projects. The company is also working on increasing the participation of schools from nearby villages by providing computers so that the girls (also the prospective employees at the BPM centres) can learn typing before they enrol in the BPM. The Jindal Steel Foundation has an internal matrix to assess the social impact that these opportunities have had on the communities. Some observations that the assessment has made are noteworthy. When these girls came in they were timid and unwilling to shoulder responsibility but are more confident in their approach today. They are increasingly voicing their opinions on Aadhar cards, bank opening formalities and so on. They are beginning to guide their family members and friends on ways to process documents for such needs. The IT savviness also makes them score over others and make better decisions for their younger siblings. Some positives that they have picked up include time management, meticulous planning, time consciousness and self-discipline.


JSW's focus on inclusion through rural BPM has won itself the Global Sourcing Council’s 3S Award this year in excellence in community engagement and CSR.