Bangladesh jeans manufacturer, Denim Expert Ltd., has just partnered with sexual minorities campaigning organisation, the BANDHU Social Welfare Society, to offer work opportunities to people who are transgender. Denim Expert’s founder and CEO, Mostafiz Uddin, blogs on the initiative’s importance.
Shima Akthar and Dilruba Akther are members of Bangladesh’s transgender community.
Not only that, as the founder and CEO of Denim Expert Limited, I’m proud to state that they have both started working in my factory.
Shima is working as a Junior Safety Assistant on the production floor and Dilruba is a Junior Supervisor in the housekeeping team.
Shima and Dilruba are proud too.
They’re delighted with their employment as they never thought that they would have the opportunity to secure gainful employment given the stigmatization they face in society.
As Dilruba explained: “Denim Expert Ltd. is not just a company – it is like a family to me. All of the employees treat me with respect and help me in my work.
"Having joined the company, I feel more accepted by society.”
What’s more, having a job is already helping to reopen doors to her family.
“Before I joined Denim Expert Ltd. my family disrespected me and did not communicate with me,” she said, “but now we have regular contact.”
Shima and Dilruba’s jobs: Shima is responsible for safety measures on the production floor. This includes checking fire and electrical equipment, the management of personal protective equipment, the arrangement of safety meetings, sharp tool control, monitoring workers’ identity papers and uniforms and working with the safety committee. It also includes checking aisle markings and sewing-line blockage control. Meanwhile, Dilruba is responsible for the cleanliness and upkeep of office areas and overall housekeeping on the production floor, under the guidance of her supervisor.
Everyone should benefit from work
As an entrepreneur, not only am I passionate about all aspects of the denim industry, I also believe everyone should benefit from the world of work.
That includes work for the approximately 10,000 transgender people in Bangladesh who, as representatives of BANDHU explained when the visited the factory earlier in the year, are too often stigmatized and alienated from society and their families.
After talking to BANDHU, it became obvious to me that integration is key.
Members of the transgender community must be given the opportunity to find gainful employment and in doing so, contribute to society and to the nation as a whole.
It’s why I decided to enter into a partnership with BANDHU and with USAID, which has also expressed its interest in the work we are doing, and take members of the transgender community into the Denim Expert family
This has meant that Denim Expert has become the first company in Bangladesh to take steps towards transgender inclusion.
Our transgender implementation project
Put simply, I believe transgender inclusion is the right thing to do. More broadly, it is about human rights and access to justice.
I also believe it’s important to ensure success, so we’re therefore:
- Providing orientation and necessary awareness-raising training on issues around transgender and human rights to management and workers
- Offering job support to transgender workers within the workplace
- Ensuring coordination between management level staff at BANDHU and our HR department to monitor the partnership.
Putting these building blocks in place has meant that employees who work with Shima and Dilruba have accepted them into the company. They’re also working well with them to ensure the successful completion of their duties.
Personally, I am happy that Shima and Dilruba have become part of the Denim Expert family and wish them every success for their long-term careers with the company.
But, I’d like to give the final words in this blog to Shima, who has confirmed how happy she is to get an opportunity to work at Denim Expert.
She said: “I feel proud that I am an employee in the garment sector and that I no longer rely on the charity of others.
“All the employees of Denim Expert Ltd. are very supportive and have accepted us very positively.
“MD Mostafiz Uddin respects me, and the company management team is also very helpful.
“I am trying my level best to do my job successfully.”