Not long ago, if Candy Luo experienced a challenge in her job—a difficult co-worker, say, or a difference of opinion with a supervisor—she was as likely as not to sidestep it. There’s not much I can do, she would think, because I’m a woman. And women are supposed to be soft.
She rarely shrinks from a challenge anymore.
An order-entry clerk in the customer service department of our Retail Branding and Information Solutions factory in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, Candy, 28, is a graduate of A New SHE Program, a professional development program we launched in partnership with the NGO BSR in 2015. Offered at three of our facilities in China, the program provides more than 100 hours of education on issues both personal and professional. Women learn about exercise, nutrition, and personal financial management. They also build career skills like public speaking, problem-solving and becoming a line leader.
According to senior human resources manager Lily He, A New SHE grew from a need among the thousands of women who’ve moved from rural areas to work in China’s booming manufacturing sector—and among the global companies, like Avery Dennison, that employ them.
“Recruiting and retaining shop-floor workers has become a big challenge,” she says. “Almost half of our factory workers are women, and 97 percent of them have a high-school education or less. They are in high demand at factories, and they are no longer satisfied to simply get a job. They want a career where they can learn, advance and lead.”