Light Takes

All-Female BPO Centre In Saudi Arabia

September 10th 2014 - Wednesday

Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest software developer by sales, on Tuesday unveiled its debut “all-female services centre” in the capital, Riyadh, part of plans to access a largely untapped pool of workers in the segregated Middle Eastern nation.

The operation will be run as a joint venture with General Electric, the US industrial group, which will hold a minority stake, while GE and Saudi Aramco, a large state-backed oil company, will be early clients.

Conservative social mores and strict rules on separation of the sexes limit female employment in Saudi Arabia. While most banks and some factories have women-only sections, exclusively female operations are rare.

“This is the first time to our understanding that anyone has done this, because this [Saudi Arabia] is a unique market,” Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the chief executive of TCS, said.

“In India, there has been huge opportunity for our industry to liberate underused talent and, while Saudi isn’t on the same scale, there is still a big opportunity to help people, especially women, find good professional jobs,” he said.

The new centre aims to eventually employ about 3000 Saudi women, although it will open with an initial staff of 400 in the second quarter of 2014.

Although it will not offer call-centre services – a step that could risk startling conservative male customers with the voice of a female operator – it will provide a range of back-office functions, including human resources and finance.