Why India Inc. guns for working mothers in its workforce

Here’s a look at the challenges women face after getting back to work from a maternity leave, and what makes them a preferred resource across organizations.

India Inc. ought to doff its hat to women playing the balancing act between the personal and professional fronts.

Encouraging and empowering women in the workforce is something the country needs to take up on a war footing. A McKinsey report indicates that if India can increase women's labor force participation by 10 percent (that’s 68 million more women) by 2025, India could increase its GDP by 16 percent.

“In the government, women are given the option of taking unpaid leaves for up to two years, without affecting their career. Unfortunately, this is not being followed by the private sector companies.”

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                 Seema Gaur, EVP & Head IT, Iffco-Tokio General Insurance

CIO India talks to women leaders across various verticals in the Indian enterprise to get a read on the challenges women face when they get back to work following a maternity break. The dialogues throw light on what organizations can do to ease the process of re-joining work, and what makes the working mother better suited for the workforce.

Challenges following a maternity break

Seema Gaur, EVP & Head of IT at Iffco-Tokio General Insurance shares that when women re-join work post maternity leave, they need to breastfeed the child. In her opinion, organizations should either have the provision of a crèche or they could be given a break to feed the child, if their workplace is close to home.

The second option, which is very common nowadays, is work-from-home. And this option is especially well-suited for the IT industry owing to better enterprise collaboration.

“In the government, women are given the option of taking unpaid leaves for up to two years, without affecting their career. Unfortunately, this is not being followed by the private sector companies,” says Gaur. There's a silver lining though - certain large MNCs in India are now beginning to adopt these policies.

Seconding her opinion is Glory Nelson, SVP – IT at SpiceJet. “Most of the companies are coming up with in-house playschool or crèche kind of a concept, which is really great because women then don’t have to worry about leaving at a specific time because of playschool timings,” she says.

Highlighting other challenges, Nelson says that some of the critical meetings happen quite late in the evenings– especially in the leadership role where one is expected to get everybody on board to make things happen.

“At Mphasis we value and work towards creating a gender-diverse workforce. We help women employees by providing mentorship and offer career counseling as well.”

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Meenu Bhambhani, Vice President and Head - Corporate Social Responsibility, Mphasis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women prove to be more focused and productive

Meenu Bhambhani, Vice President and Head - Corporate Social Responsibility at Mphasis believes that the industry today has begun its move towards a more inclusive environment within the workplace.

“At Mphasis we value and work towards creating a gender-diverse workforce. We help women employees by providing mentorship and offer career counselling as well,” she says.

She explains that it's tough to stay invested and pursue individual career goals. “With changing mindset, we have witnessed women to be more career-oriented and focused on their respective professional journey. We do see a lot of women employees upskilling and reskilling themselves in order to stay relevant and move ahead in their career,” she adds.

Nelson opines that most corporates do want more women in the workforce – because they are really dedicated and committed to completing work.

“Most corporates do want more women in the workforce – because they are really dedicated and committed to completing work.”

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                                                  Glory Nelson, SVP – IT, SpiceJet

Being able to juggle between roles and bearing the immense responsibility of raising a child, and simultaneously doing justice to her professional obligations is what makes the working mother a coveted organizational resource.

Gaur, of Iffco-Tokio General Insurance, strongly believes that owing to the immense responsibility they bear, women are more productive compared to their male counterparts. "Subconsciously, a working mother feels that because she has left her child at home, she should be doing a meaningful job to justify her being away from home," she explains.

She concludes by saying that one should bear in mind that working mothers play a very constructive and important role in the society, and should in fact, be given more weightage considering the dual role they play.