Daksha and Dipti are two strangers leading similar lives in a traditional Indian society. Both have little education and struggle as the sole providers for their families in a society where women have historically been caregivers while men earn a living.
Their stories are not uncommon, and though India has come a long way in redefining the role of women in society, there is still a stigma around independent women making it twice as hard for them to besuccessful on their own. One diamond manufacturer in Surat, though, has brought Daksha and Dipti together, helping them and hundreds of other women like them achieve financial independence and stability despite the odds that have been stacked against them.
In 2012 KP Sanghvi became the first diamond manufacturer in India to open a cutting and polishing factory with a specific goal of aiding and empowering women in Surat. The first of its kind facility started off with just seventeen female trainees and has since grown to employ over 100 women who were previously struggling financially and socially.
A role model for women in her society
For years, Daksha was forced to do jari work (an intricate art of weaving threads made of fine gold or silver. These threads are further woven into fabrics, primarily made of silk to create intricate patterns) that paid very little due to her lack of education. Though she knew she was capable of more, the immediate need to provide for her family kept her working multiple jobs tirelessly to afford the bare minimum necessities. Socially, Daksha was not respected due to her poor economic status, and she constantly worried. Oftentimes, she could not even afford to buy enough
food to feed her whole family, so she frequently went hungry.
After the opening of the KP Sanghvi factory, Daksha became a trainee and has since worked herself up to the title of Top Care Worker in which she is in charge of “final bruting,” or ensuring that all diamond girdles are perfectly round and smooth.
Though she had never seen or operated a computer before, the company believed strongly in her potential and admired her willingness to work hard to develop the necessary skills to succeed. With her determination and the dedicated support of her management team, Daksha now earns more than enough money to take care of her family. “Now I can operate everything,” she says. “Give me any machine and I will operate it.”
Since joining the KP Sanghvi team, Daksha has not only become independent and successful, but she has also become a role model for women in her society, encouraging many of them to believe in themselves, follow in her footsteps and break the mold to earn a living for themselves. She is proud to have been able to pay for her son’s wedding and for a baby shower for her daughter-in-law, and she now looks forward to her future thanks to her independence and freedom from constant financial worry.
Defying the odds and gaining independence
Much like Daksha, Dipti was left as the sole provider for her family after her husband left her while pregnant, and she struggled as a single mother to make ends meet. Also having very little education, her only options were jari work and odd jobs like selling vegetables on the street, but, just like Daksha, Dipti quickly learned that this was not enough to feed her family. She had very little confidence and did not know where to turn for help, until she too became a trainee at KP Sanghvi’s female cutting and polish factory.
After starting at KP Sanghvi, Dipti faced more challenges in learning new work that she had never done before. But, like Daksha, the support and encouragement from her managers and the women around her and her determination to succeed allowed her to learn the skills necessary to succeed. “[With] guidance from the trainer and our
hard work,” says Dipti, “I feel like I can manage everything now.” She can not only pay for her child’s education, but can financially support her parents as well. This job has given Dipti confidence that she never knew she had in her, allowing her to become a “Star & Halves” Top Worker.
This role is responsible for polishing and adding the final facets onto each diamond, which are called stars and halves. Her job is to bring out the diamonds’ sparkle, just like this job has brought out the sparkle in her.
A Company Catalyst
The concept of helping women gain financial independence and personal confidence is one that has not historically been done in traditional Indian society, but KP Sanghvi understands that, now more than ever, supporting women is crucial, and that empowering them means creating a better and equal future for all. “[Women] are the most important part of anyone’s life,” says Director, Arvind Sanghvi. [We] are in this world because of them.” It is this ideology that has allowed the company to become a model for others with this first female-operated factory, but in the eyes of its management, they are merely following the company’s business philosophy of integrity, honesty and trust. “[Social Responsibility] is the most important and integrated part [of our business],” says Mr. Arvind.