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New moms want challenging jobs

While companies are busy drafting flexi policies for women at workforce, it seems women are more interested in sharper career opportunities and challenging roles, post maternity.

business Updated: Mar 07, 2016 13:17 IST
Himani Chandna
Women staff at the New Delhi branch of Bharatiya Mahila Bank
Women staff at the New Delhi branch of Bharatiya Mahila Bank(HT Archive)

What do women want from their jobs when they return, post maternity? Its not flexible work hours, it seems women are more interested in better career opportunities and challenging roles, post maternity.

Sample this: Tanu Goenka, 38, took maternity leave from her organisation, Axis Bank, almost four years back. Soon after her return, she was offered promotion to the role of ‘strategy and executive assistant’ to company’s managing director. Goenka accepted the offer and today, she is a senior vice president (SVP) at Axis Bank. “We have noticed that women, if given, challenging and promising roles - post maternity, stick to working. Otherwise, if they feel their career lacks lustre, they tend to quit work and rather derive happiness out of kids and family,” explained Shikha Sharma, managing director and CEO, Axis Bank. “Two of my colleagues, including Tanu Goenka, were offered challenging job profiles, immediately after they joined back and today, they both are at senior management positions”

Axis is not alone which is hunting for women talent. Over 70% of the companies are keen on increasing the number of women in their workforce, according to a report by Flexi Careers, a social enterprise which works in the area of diversity and inclusion. To fulfil that, companies including HCL Technologies, IBM, MTS, Telenor, Dabur India, Godrej and Tata Group among others are devising strategies to retain women, post maternity, by showing them a promising career graph and offering key projects.

IT giant HCL Technologies has designed a policy, Stepping Stones, to retain women, post maternity. The program counsels new mother about their career potentials and opportunities in HCL. During the last financial year, about 949 women went under this program. “We have witnessed a healthy increase in the return ratio of women employees from maternity leave. Currently, HCL has 98% of women going on maternity leaves resuming their careers,” said HCL spokesperson.

FMCG firm, Dabur India stays in touch with women colleagues while they are on maternity leaves, to make them feel connected with their profession. Dabur offers big projects and responsible profiles, once these women are back to work. “We need to understand that women now look at maternity as an intrinsic part of their professional journey and they are willing to take on challenging roles on joining back,” said V Krishnan, executive director, human resources, Dabur India. Hiring of women in Dabur has been growing at 10% over the past 3 years.

In contrast, tech giant, IBM has seen women seeking support roles which are less demanding than their prior roles once they return from their maternity leaves. This impacts their career trajectory. “To avoid the negative long term career impact and ensure that women do not ramp off from their mainstream career, we made policies. Women can select a part time work arrangement... this ensures that upon completion of the initial 12 month period, the employee would return to a full time role,” said Dilpreet Singh, vice president, HR( (India/South Asia), IBM.

As per a survey by Flexi Careers, cited above, our society still prescribes to the ‘male breadwinner, female caretaker’ family model, probably due to which women start finding work life boring and monotonous if not supported with adequate aspirations. “Only 12% of women at the matured stages of their career were breadwinners of their families, 37% of men at the same career stage were breadwinners,” it found.

“While marriage and maternity are key reasons due to which women quit the workforce, policy intervention to re-construct their vision towards their professional goals could help in managing decent number of women in the workforce post maternity as well,” Sharma from Axis added.