Vedanta Aluminium is empowering its women employees with a structured approach to gender diversity

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Ms. Anshuma Binani, Head – Commodity Hedging, Vedanta Limited – Aluminium Business


  1. Could you please introduce yourself and provide us with your academic and professional background?

 After my Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from NIT Raipur, I joined Vedanta Aluminium. My experience, over the years, has been extremely enriching. From technical roles in the smelter shopfloor, I expanded my ambit by moving to the Commercial department. Where I was the Lead Buyer for aluminium fluoride (Alf3), pot relining, and alumina for seven years and was instrumental in setting up alumina hedging for the group. In 2015, I moved to marketing where I managed exports, business excellence, and many other critical verticals, while working extensively in metal hedging. In 2019, I took yet another leap and moved to Finance, where I started working with the treasury department. In 2020, I became the Head of Commodity Hedging at Vedanta’s Aluminium Business.


  1. What is your current position at Vedanta Aluminium, and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?

 As mentioned above, I am currently heading Commodity Hedging for Vedanta’s Aluminium Business. With customers in 50+ countries, we offer among the largest portfolios of aluminium products globally which are registered on the London Metal Exchange (LME). This makes my role extremely strategic in nature and that offers a vast playing field for me to work on innovative solutions for extracting maximum value from the market for the company. Hedging is a daily activity that requires one to have a laser focus on the LME market every single day and undertake immediate market action throughout the day to ensure that we capitalise on opportunities and there is no price risk exposure, thus enhancing our ability to offer maximum value to our stakeholders.


  1. In the manufacturing sector, do you observe a considerable number of women in the roles you have chosen? Did you face any challenges when you initially started your journey in this field?

Every job is demanding in its own way, and offers both opportunities and challenges. My job is no different. While the mining, metals & heavy engineering industry does have a smaller gender diversity percentage compared to say BFSI, IT or similar sectors, the equation is changing rapidly. In fact, Vedanta Aluminium is home to some of the most talented, enterprising and passionate women, who are competently leading unconventional roles – from smelter operations, power plants, quality assurance, security, control systems, and more. In my experience, there are no challenges on the industry side, especially at Vedanta Aluminium, where women can simply raise their hands and ask for opportunities on merit, and the company ensures that they get it. For example, while I do not have a background in Finance, the company management entrusted me with this role, seeing my interest and capabilities. This not only gave me a sharp learning curve but also gave me the confidence to independently handle commodity hedging for the company.


  1. In what ways has Vedanta Aluminium provided support and encouragement for women to take on leadership roles within the organization? / What strategies/initiatives have effectively increased diversity and promoted gender equality at Vedanta’s operations?

Vedanta Aluminium has a very structured approach towards enabling women professionals to take up leadership roles. And it starts right from the moment of hiring. At Vedanta, all job roles, no matter how non-traditional, as absolutely gender-agnostic, which means anyone can be considered for any role in the organisation – from production, plant operations and maintenance to fire-fighting. The focus is on hiring the right talent.

Secondly, the company hires women, like all employees, for their attitude and willingness to learn, and sound educational and technical qualifications. Once on the company’s rolls, employees are provided with structured growth pathways such as classroom training, executive coaching, mentoring, and accelerated developmental programs to high-potential talent. All this in an ecosystem designed to ensure they are supported at various life stages.

The company goes above and beyond to ensure that job content is rich and meaningful, so that no matter what life stage they are in, women have enough motivation to continue. Our job roles are designed to be empowering and interesting. Our business is currently at a remarkable inflection point which allows for a lot of innovation, new ways of working – and a truly diverse and inclusive workplace that allows for unprecedented learning and a ringside view of global best practices.

Lastly, but very importantly, the company puts wellbeing of employees centre-stage through their different life stages. Although our plant operations are located in remote areas, we have state-of-the-art townships that are well-equipped with all modern amenities such as day care centres and creches for children, hospitals, schools, stadiums, playgrounds, gymnasiums, swimming pools, movie theatres, shopping complexes with a vibrant social lifestyle, all conducive to a wholesome family life.

This fundamental shift in approach has increasingly levelled the playing field. This has also deepened the talent pool for the company, with more people who passionately contribute towards the organizational vision of becoming the world’s best aluminium producer.


  1. What are some of the unique initiatives that Vedanta has?

Vedanta is known for its policies, talent development programs and employee welfare practices that promote gender parity, diversity and inclusivity. For example, V-LEAD is Vedanta’s initiative of developing a strong pipeline of women leaders, who are mentored by cross-functional leaders, many of whom are also women. This allows aspiring professionals to learn from the experiences of industry stalwarts and chart their own career path. There are several talent development programs like Diversity Growth Workshop, whereby high-potential women candidates undergo multiple rounds of assessment, following which they are selected for elevated roles in the organization.

Another unique example is our Spouse Recruitment policy, which strives to address gender bias by encouraging wives of our employees to explore a career in the manufacturing industry, and in the process, stay together as a family. Equally, it gives husbands of our women employees the opportunity to freely opt for a career in our organisation. This allows spouses of employees, be they men or women, to apply for suitable job roles at our organization, based on their skills & competencies, and to stay together as a family. This has both deepened our talent pool and helped us retain several competent people in the company.


  1. Why is it important for more women to join the manufacturing, metals & mining sectors?

There is no reason for women not to consider the industry for fulfilling careers, akin to any other industry. What makes the manufacturing, metals & mining sector unique is this – In India’s aspirations to be a USD 5 trillion-dollar economy, the metals & minerals industry will play a crucial role as the backbone of the country’s economy. This needs the metals & mining industry to harness the best of human capital, for creating innovative products for high-end applications for India’s resurgent tomorrow.

Such a scenario promises enriching career options in an industry that has grown leaps and bounds over the years, with extensive deployment of cutting-edge digital technologies, advanced automation, robotics, etc. With the industry also consciously working towards attracting diverse talent, with a focus on women professionals, the time is perfect for women to enter the industry.

For the industry, it is important because a diverse workforce ensures more prolific ideation, greater innovation, a better mix of skills, higher engagement, better talent attraction & retention, and robust decision-making, all of which lead to better rounded solutions and greater customer fulfilment – the recipe for better business and a source of competitive advantage. Women form a sizeable chunk of India’s workforce, and manufacturing sectors must capitalise on this latent talent pool for giving themselves an edge in the market.


  1. What advice or message would you like to share with women and girls who aspire to build successful careers but have not yet considered a career in manufacturing?

It is a misconception that a career in manufacturing is physically demanding or is a man’s job because of the same, given the significant developments in smart manufacturing that have levelled the playing field for all. The manufacturing sector offers tremendous growth opportunities for women, offering the chance to work on a diverse array of roles, from plant operations & maintenance to ESG, Finance, Marketing, Security, HR, PR, CSR and many, many more, which is not as freely available in many other sectors. Vedanta, in particular, is an organization that actively encourages employees to explore different domains as part of their growth trajectories. Take a leap of faith, and trust me, it will pay off in more ways than one.


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