India: Married Women Are “Persona Non Grata” at Foxconn Plants

Reuters journalistic investigation: the unwritten but ironclad rule is not to hire married women because “they have too many problems”

Fabbrica di Faxconn in India

For Indian women, employment and the opportunity to work at the Foxconn plant in Sriperumbudur, near the city of Chennai (formerly Madras), means winning an almost golden ticket out of extreme poverty. The Taiwanese multinational company, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components and gadgets, which assembles the latest generation of iPhones in India, offers its employees food, accommodation, and a monthly salary of about $200, which is more or less the same as India’s GDP per capita. The Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing everything it can to move production from China to India to help improve living standards in a country where a large portion of the population of 1.4 billion people still lives below subsistence level.

But there’s a problem: A Reuters investigation, published on its website, found that Foxconn – one of Apple’s main device makers – systematically “excluded married women from jobs at its main Indian iPhone assembly plant, since wives have more family responsibilities than unmarried women.”

Reuters interviewed a man named Paul S., a former head of human resources at Foxconn India, who said that “company executives verbally communicate the rules to Indian recruitment agencies that Foxconn hires to find candidates, interview them, and hire them.” According to the company, there are “many problems” after marriage, Paul explained, including the fact that “they have children,” and therefore “the risk factors increase when you hire married women.”

The Reuters investigative report sparked a sharp negative media reaction in India and many other Asian countries where apparently the same problems exist. As the Times of India wrote, “to get the job, many women hide the fact that they are married and do not even renew their IDs after marriage.”