Schneider Electric, a leading company in digital transformation of energy management and automation, honoured women entrepreneurs with Prerna Awards on March 23, 2018. The awards were presented during Schneider Electric’s Innovation Summit held in New Delhi on March 19 and 20. The three recipients of the honour were Ching, founder of Shakti Foundation Trust which ensures education of children of women from low income groups and prevents child abuse and delinquency; Laxmi Menon for her innovative idea of making pens with waste paper embedded with ayurvedic seed which could become a plant once thrown away and creating a team of elderly, specially abled women to support her work; Pabiben Rabari who started one of India’s first women artisan enterprises of the country-Pabiben.com which employs women artisans from the villages to help them earn a livelihood.
The Prerna Award, which was instituted in the year 2015, recognises women entrepreneurs who have excelled in largely male dominated fields of work or have made atypical contribution towards the sustainable development of the country and have empowered other women in the process.
Talking about her life journey Pabiben shared, on the sidelines of the award ceremony, “I thank Schneider Electric for giving me this honour. I have witnessed gender inequality from a very young age and always wanted to remove this from the society. With this initiative, now there are many women in our village who are employed and financially independent, while taking care of their families as well.”
Laxmi too added to that voice by stating, “It is my belief that if you are not a part of the solution, then by default you are a part of the problem. So, it is just an effort to positively impact our environment. The seed pen is what I have tried to do in my capacity to bring in some change in the plastic menace. I thank Schneider Electric for the acknowledgement.”
While Ching, stated, “Our aim is to empower women who work as domestic help. Today, we all need domestic help and without them we cannot function but in turn no one is taking care of these women. So, we have taken a step to help their children and provide them the basic education. Today, we have 74 children who are going to proper school. The award from Schneider Electric has given me motivation to do more and even better.”
The awards were presented by Chris Leong, Chief Marketing Officer, Schneider Electric and Rachna Mukherjee, Chief Human Resource Officer, Schneider Electric India who spoke about Schneider Electric’s vision to usher in change in the society by supporting women entrepreneurs across geographies.
Talking about the need for women leaders in our ecosystem, Rachna Mukherjee, CHRO, Schneider Electric India said, “Diversity is an integral part of Schneider’s history, culture and identity. At Schneider Electric India, we are committed to driving this approach both within and outside the organisation. I take immense pleasure in awarding these courageous women, who have challenged the status quo in the society, faced all odds and are now taking diversity from homes to their place of work.”
The winners of Prerna Awards are selected after a rigorous assessment of the work done by the nominees, in line with the societal commitment of Diversity & Inclusion philosophy at Schneider Electric. Among the key criteria, nominees need to be small to medium scale women entrepreneurs who have worked in empowering other women through employment or skill building, have been bold enough to break traditional mindsets, worked in male dominated sectors and have been the changing agents in contributing towards betterment of the society. The jury comprises Senior Leaders of Schneider Electric India including D&I Head, CHRO India Zone and MD & Country President.
Schneider Electric India is committed to diversity and inclusion in its organisation at all levels. It is not only an integral part of its history and culture, but also a key business imperative. The organisation is making constant effort to bring in the balance by inculcating various measures in key spheres such as Hiring (women referral policies, ensuring 40% women of the total recruits, 50% women campus recruits), Leadership commitment through programs like HeForShe and supportive policies for the existing employees such as extended maternity break, flexi work options, sabbatical options, as well as women leadership development programmes.