Mumbai: There is a rush to hire women riders at India’s leading online delivery companies amid increasing attrition levels and need to rapidly ramp up manpower, said industry executives and experts. Women have a better retention rate and are seen as efficient and more disciplined, they said.
“Hiring women riders is one of our several efforts to strengthen the participation of women in the workforce,” said Saurabh Deep Singla, chief people officer, Ecom Express. “We hire women not just to improve diversity numbers, but their retention rate is higher… women associates are sincere, diligent and highly focused, and they are also very efficient.”
Ecom Express, which has four women-only delivery facilities in Delhi, Jaipur and Ludhiana, plans to set up ten new all-women delivery centres this year. The company has more than 2,000 women working at its hubs and fulfilment centres and about 100 women are in delivery roles.
The delivery industry has a very high attrition rate of 6-7% per month, according to estimates by staffing solutions company ManpowerGroup India.
The industry expects the delivery segment in India to see women workforce increase to 15-20% in the next two-three years from 4-7% in 2021.
Shadowfax Technologies, which works with online marketplaces such as Flipkart Quick, Zepto, BigBasket and Swiggy Instamart, has currently around 6,600 female delivery partners out of its total delivery workforce of 100,000.
“We are witnessing a growing demand for women as delivery partners with a considerable increase month-on-month across tier-1 and tier-2 cities and intend to grow this multifold,” said Abhishek Bansal, CEO, Shadowfax Technologies. “The entire hyperlocal delivery segment is contributing significantly to the increase in demand.”
The availability of short distance delivery jobs with pickup in instant delivery is attracting many women.
“Zomato Instant has gained significant attention from female and transgender delivery partners considering its short (less than 2 km) and defined routes along with our care and emergency support,” said a company spokesperson.
To attract more women to be part of its last-mile fleet, Swiggy is allowing delivery by bicycles for short distance orders.
“Several women either lack access to personal motor vehicles or don’t have a driver’s licence. We are assuring them that delivery by bicycle is a viable option for short-distance orders… we are also working with electric mobility partners to facilitate electric cycles and bikes (sub-25 kmph) on rent,” said Mihir Shah, vice president-operations, Swiggy, which has 22% of its women delivery partners delivering on bicycles.
The company allows two days paid leave a month for female delivery partners, to voluntarily take time off during their menstrual cycle, with a minimum earnings guarantee during that time.
Companies are trying to create a women-friendly work ecosystem – which includes access to hygienic restrooms and various measures to ensure safety of its female delivery person – including safety training, SOS alert system, etc.
Swiggy has partnered with Shell to provide its delivery partners (male and female) access to restrooms across the latter’s petrol stations in the country.
However, staffing experts said while companies are proactive to tap into this talent pool, it is still not easy to attract women for last mile jobs.
“There are still very few women wanting to take up delivery agent jobs despite companies setting huge internal targets for gender diversity,” said Alok Kumar, senior director for sales, account management and global accounts, ManpowerGroup India. “There are biases still against hardcore delivery jobs which are perceived to be not appropriate for women.”