East London/ 1994 Ushered in a new era of democracy for South Africa, and was also a milestone year for the Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) manufacturing plant, as it welcomed the first female production operators onto the shop floor.
Between June and September 1994, MBSA recruited just over 50 woman assemblers to work in the plant’s commercial vehicles facility on the trimline. The women were employed on exactly the same basis as their male counterparts, and took up their positions on the production lines on an equal basis. Today, women can be found in numerous areas of the plant’s production environment, performing tasks which were previously male dominated.
The majority of this first intake of women can still be found in the plant today. They were honoured at a special Women’s Month event, and treated to a High Tea along with the rest of the more than 500-strong female workforce. “We are very happy with the exceptional input that these ladies have made in our plant,” says vice president for Human Resources at MBSA, Mr Johann Evertse.
MBSA is renowned for its progressive labour practices, and places a premium on diversity and inclusivity – this includes not only gender, but also race and disability.
The active and targeted development of diversity has been a key priority for the global Daimler AG group since 2005. Due to the uniqueness of the South African context, which has prioritised the empowerment of previously disadvantaged groups since democracy, MBSA is a leader in the element of diversity management in the Daimler group.
Mr Evertse comments: “If we always approach tasks using the same mindset, with the same people and in the same way, we can’t talk about innovation or progress. We require a range of methods and different perspectives. Our people give us the power to drive innovation and shape the future of our company. Today, at this Women’s Month event, we are demonstrating the value that we place on the unique outlook that women bring to both strategic and operational issues.”