Respecting Culture, Respecting Safety

Together with Tata Steel, DuPont helped to establish new safety programs for contract workers on job sites.

Hardhat? Check.
Lunchpail? Check.
Loose flowing clothing? Uh, hold on a second…

Most people don't associate a delicate, flowing sari with the gritty, often hazardous, grounds of a steel manufacturing plant. That traditional outfit is a huge part of being a woman in India, and as a result, many women came to the Tata Steel plant in India in their saris, despite the dangers of wearing loose clothing while operating heavy machinery. An errant breeze can lodge a fold of clothing into unforgiving machinery, with often fatal results.

But cultural traditions run deep in India—as they do all the world over. Changing one culture often means augmenting it with another, equally important one. DuPont helped Tata Steel work with its female employees to shape a new safety culture and dress code that respected traditional mores on the one hand and the danger of heavy machinery on the other. By working with culture, instead of battling against it, the women of Tata Steel understood how important proper work dress was to their—and their families'—health. Saris were swapped for safer uniforms of shirts and trousers on work sites. The change didn't supplant traditional culture. It added to it, letting women like P. Ganeshweri, a young mother who joined Tata Steel to support her children after the tragic death of her husband, lean to "take these safety lessons from the job to every part of our lives."

On International Women's Day, and every day, we celebrate the achievements and strength of women like P. Ganeshweri. Follow her story in the video above.