The women who power China’s factories can often face tough odds in getting ahead.
Along with the long hours and poor working conditions that both sexes sometimes endure, Chinese women frequently face gender discrimination, sexual harassment and inadequate access to health information and services. Migrants for the most part and less well educated than men, they have fewer opportunities for promotion. In fact, while women in China make up 57 percent of the country’s overall workforce, they earn nearly 33 percent less than men in cities.
But China’s female workers have the potential to change business and communities for the better.
With training, women workers could have an outsized impact as independent wage earners and consumers. And unlike the first few waves of factory workers who left their rural homes to find work, today’s young female employees don’t just want to earn a living, they want to learn and advance.
That’s where programs like Plan W come in. Developed by HP’s customer Diageo with the support of HP, Plan W is designed from the bottom up to provide the training and practical skills, from effective communication to time management, that women in factories can use to get ahead, become leaders and provide mentorship to workers around them.
Plan W is just one of the initiatives that HP, working with its customers and nonprofit partners, is fueling around the globe to improve the safety, health and financial security of the workers in its suppliers’ factories. Other programs targeted at women provide training on managing personal health and finances, including how to open bank accounts and control their own money instead of turning it over to fathers or brothers.
HP believes that promoting diversity and empowering employees within its supply chain strengthens its business, drives innovation and improves local economies. Thousands of suppliers on six continents have a hand in producing HP’s products and bringing them to market. Through programs like Plan W, HP aims to improve the skills and well-being of 500,000 employees in its supply chain by 2025.
In 2016, 12,000 women in supplier factories received training and education through initiatives including Plan W. Overall, 45,700 employees of HP suppliers participated in 14 projects in five countries in 2016, bringing the total to 123,700 workers since 2015.