Women Forge New Paths in the Metals & Mining Industry

Women Forge New Paths in the Metals & Mining Industry

As the world gears up to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest aluminium producer, is poised to have women comprise nearly a third of its workforce by the end of FY25. It underscores Vedanta Aluminium’s commitment to fostering greater gender diversity while also marking a significant step in bridging the gender gap in the traditionally male-dominated metals and mining industry.

According to a report by the World Bank, women make up only 15% of the global mining workforce, with even lower representation in specific regions. In India’s metal and mining sector, their participation is dismally low as well, with women representing just 7.0% of all workers in the sector between 2010 to 2015. Despite efforts to increase female representation, progress has been sluggish due to entrenched biases and a lack of role models.


In a sector where women are vastly underrepresented, Vedanta Aluminium stands out as a beacon of progress. Today, women professionals comprise over 22% of the total number of employees at Vedanta Aluminium. This is among the highest in the industry, but the company is aiming even higher. It is challenging traditional gender biases head-on by creating an equitable working environment, as evident in its gender-agnostic roles based on merit, rich job content, and progressive workplace policies such as the introduction of night shifts for women.

These moves have helped Vedanta Aluminium build a cadre of pioneering women who are setting new benchmarks in India’s manufacturing sector. They are excelling across several core functions, such as mine operations, metal production, power generation, plant management, and asset security, challenging stereotypes on the way and reshaping conventional notions of their industry.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2024, the company has rolled out the ‘Women Of Mettle’ series of short films as part of its ‘#TheFutureOfMetal’ campaign, which aims to encourage more women to explore fulfilling careers in the metals and mining industry. The films features young women professionals performing important roles during the night shift at Vedanta Aluminium.

Anjali Pawar, Head of Quality Assurance at Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), shares her experience, stating, “My experience, spanning over a decade and a half, has allowed me to witness firsthand the evolution of our processes and standards to global benchmark levels. Quality assurance isn’t just about maintaining standards; it’s about nurturing a culture of excellence and customer satisfaction. Leading the charge in this journey has been nothing short of fulfilling, blending my academic expertise with a sense of purpose.”

The company’s efforts come at a time when the metals and mining industry is undergoing a transformation, propelled by Industry 4.0 technologies and sustainability practices. With increased automation and a focus on green solutions, the sector offers a diverse range of career options, making it an attractive choice for jobseekers of all backgrounds.

Shivani Sharma, Exploration Manager at Vedanta Aluminium, armed with a Geophysics degree from IIT Roorkee and over 16 years of experience in mineral exploration, attests, “Venturing into the world of mineral exploration wasn’t just a career choice for me; it was a leap towards personal fulfilment. Witnessing the transformative impact of empowering women in traditionally male-dominated industries has been incredibly rewarding. Here, I’ve found my passion and purpose, and I’m thrilled to be part of this empowering movement.”

Vedanta Aluminium supports women through various life stages with its comprehensive Parenthood and Childcare Policy, facilitating a seamless balance between personal and professional responsibilities. Initiatives like spouse hiring and extended sabbaticals underscore the company’s commitment to familial support and employee well-being.

Breaking new ground in gender inclusivity, Vedanta Aluminium has pioneered night shifts for women at its Odisha operations through the ‘Shree Shakti’ initiative, enhancing career prospects for women entering the metals and mining industry and acting as a catalyst for more women to aspire for equitable careers. Additionally, the company offers world-class living arrangements near its plants, fostering community cohesion and well-being among employees and their families. Moreover, Vedanta Aluminium has undertaken innovative recruitment efforts such as ‘Project Panchhi,’ which aims to empower young girls from marginalized rural communities, offering financial support for higher education and employment opportunities within the company.

Jepulina Borah, Assistant Manager, Vedanta Jharsuguda, Odisha is a business analyst at Vedanta Jharsuguda and doubles up as a crucial member of its all-women Agnivahini firefighting team. She adds, “Joining the firefighting team was like discovering a new dimension of myself. Balancing work and life have never been easier, thanks to initiatives like the ‘Agnivahini’ program. Here, I don’t just analyze; I protect and thrive.”

Suprita Nanda, Head of Power Projects at Vedanta Aluminium, Jharsuguda, Odisha, having been the first woman to join the Vedanta Jharsuguda team in 2004, emphasizes the importance of diversity: “As the Head of Power Projects for a company with one of the nation’s largest power assets, I feel an immense sense of pride. The unwavering support I received from the onset of my career has been the cornerstone of my enduring commitment to this organization. As a woman in a leadership role, I am proud to be part of a company that values female contributions and inspires the next generation of women leaders.”

As Vedanta Aluminium leads the charge towards a more inclusive industry, it serves as a beacon for companies worldwide. By empowering women and breaking barriers, the organization not only enriches its workforce but also propels innovation and progress in the metals and mining sectors.