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Apple supplier Foxconn rejects married women from India iPhone jobs

The two women standing near the entrance to the iPhone factory in southern India were upset.

Parvathi and Janaki, sisters in their 20s, had come to the plant, run by major Apple supplier Foxconn, for interviews in March 2023 after seeing job ads on WhatsApp. But they had been turned away at the main gate by a security officer who stopped them and asked: “Are you married?”

“We didn’t get the jobs as we both are married,” Parvathi later said in an interview at her village shanty. “Even the auto-rickshaw driver who took us from the bus stand to the Foxconn facility told us they wouldn’t take married women,” she added. “We thought we would still give it a shot.”

A Reuters investigation has found that Foxconn has systematically excluded married women from jobs at its main India iPhone assembly plant, on the grounds they have more family responsibilities than their unmarried counterparts.
S. Paul, a former human-resources executive at Foxconn India, said the company’s executives verbally convey the recruitment rules to its Indian hiring agencies, which Foxconn tasks with scouting for candidates, bringing them in for interviews and employing them.

Foxconn typically doesn’t hire married women because of “cultural issues” and societal pressures, said Paul, who said he left the company in August 2023 for a better-paying role at a consulting firm. The company’s view was that there were “many issues post-marriage,” Paul added. Among them: Women “have babies after marriage.”

“Risk factors increase when you hire married women,” he said.

Paul’s account was corroborated by 17 employees from more than a dozen Foxconn hiring agencies in India, and four current and former Foxconn human-resources executives. Twelve of these sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

The agents and the Foxconn HR sources cited family duties, pregnancy and higher absenteeism as reasons why Foxconn did not hire married women at the plant, located at Sriperumbudur, near the city of Chennai. Many of these people also said jewelry worn by married Hindu women could interfere with production.

The ban isn’t absolute. Three former Foxconn HR executives told Reuters that the Taiwan-headquartered manufacturer relaxes the practice of not hiring married women during high-production periods when it sometimes faces labor shortages. In some cases, hiring agencies help female candidates conceal their marital status to secure jobs, Reuters found. Reuters

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