CODA’s women-only workspace at Kayalpattinam

A CSR initiative to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion:

CODA Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd. is a certified enterprise management organization that provides effective Master Data Management, Project Management, Plant Maintenance, and Inventory Optimization services for businesses worldwide to increase their ROI. The head office of CODA is in Chennai. 

In 2019, CODA took a CSR initiative to empower women and implement diversity by setting up a women-only workspace in a town named Kayalpattinam in the Tuticorin district. It has successfully completed three years in June and continues to grow.

The idea of starting a women-only workspace materialized in CODA’s founders’ minds long before they made it happen. Since it’s a core industry, the number of women working in this field is usually lesser than men. Also, most families in rural areas in India still culturally restrict women from working in STEM.

The goal of CODA was to change that narrative. Women deserve more than a seat at the table. So, CODA set up a women-only workspace where women can worry less about their safety, household chores, and discrimination to focus more on their work and stay productive.

The history of CODA’s women-only workspace at Kayalpattinam:

“We wanted to support women who couldn’t start working after their studies because of family restrictions, and women who took long breaks due to marriage, pregnancy, or to start a family,” says the chief information officer of CODA, Rizwan Nawab John. 

He added, “Our dream wouldn’t have come true without the first batch of nine women who joined CODA Kayalpattinam. They took responsibility and supported us a lot to keep the office running.”

Like every new idea that faces challenges and struggles, CODA had its moment too, says Rizwan. “Many people discouraged us saying this would be a failure because Kayalpattinam women don’t do IT and its related jobs. But we continued doing it despite that and I assure you, even to this today, we don’t regret it.”

CODA gives opportunities to people from different backgrounds and trains them to do what engineers do. Even though the path is filled with hurdles, the hunt to find the right talents for CODA will never stop.

CODA’s role in empowering women:

Empowering women is about creating a space, an opportunity to give back what is rightfully theirs in the first place, not just about ‘letting women’ work.

When we asked one of the employees from CODA, Kayalpattinam, an IT developer who has been working here for three years, what made her choose CODA, her answer was simple, “Because CODA is the first and only IT company in our town.”

She added after a pause, “After working here for 3+ years, I’ve gained a lot of technical knowledge, and CODA allows me to explore more in my field. It makes me feel like I am not a regular Kayalpattinam woman.”

Having a women-only workspace locally saves commute time as most of them come from only a short walk or neighboring places in and around Kayalpattinam.

Also, in a workplace exclusively for women, there is little to no chance of sexism. It is a great opportunity for women to learn from each other. It gives them a supportive environment and helps them identify what they are missing out on.

Freedom and financial security for women:

Before this job, almost all of the women working at CODA Kayalpattinam were once dependent on their male family members financially. It has been the history of this town for years and years. Women working in STEM are still facing questions and challenges concerning their dignity.

But women who work at CODA find it an age-old concept and use CODA to become their best selves financially and socially. CODA helps by giving them the confidence that comes with financial independence.

A material specialist who has also been working at CODA for three years says, “Working at CODA helped me meet more like-minded people.”

They feel they are recognized fairly for their contribution to team efforts. They see CODA as a place to belong that gives them freedom and an opportunity to explore while simultaneously climbing the ladder in their career. 

Work-life balance in CODA:

One of the IT developers says, “Initially, it was too hard to balance work and family, as I had a newborn baby when I started my career in CODA. Those were very stressful days. She sighs and adds, “But now it is not so hard.”

CODA’s focus on flexibility has proven to be a great success in providing employees the necessary freedom to balance work with family and give them job satisfaction. There are added benefits for working mothers who work from home.

Even women who restart their careers after a long break find this environment comfortable to settle down in.

When asked about her experience, a material engineer who resumed her career after ten years at the CODA Kayalpattinam office says, “I worked before my marriage and had six years of job experience, but then family happened. Women like me from rural areas have the disadvantage of having to leave their hometowns for the city to acquire a decent job. It was the key reason I hesitated to pursue my career. But the thought of not doing anything for myself started killing me every day. I thought my career had ended and lost hope until CODA came to my rescue.”

She then beams a proud smile and says, “The flexibility at CODA makes me realize how fortunate I am to be able to run a family and make a career for myself at the same time. Every day when I leave work, I have the satisfaction of having done something for myself more than just as a wife and a mother.”

Future plans for CODA’s women-only workspace:

CODA intentionally and actively hires people from marginalized backgrounds and ensures their basic needs are met. By opening a new and different network of opportunities, with enough training, people from these societies can make a change for themselves and give back in return to other such communities over time.

CODA has plans to train women from such communities in the future to encourage them to study for work.

Rizwan says, “Women are like light and to diminish that light in a closed box is a betrayal to humankind.”

Women can shine if they put their minds to it. CODA’s successfully running women-only workspace in Kayalpattinam is an excellent example. CODA will continue doing its service relentlessly regardless of the setbacks by focusing on the intent of becoming a better society and even better economically.


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