Women working in the corporate sector in Maharashtra for more than 10 years have to face several challenges to successfully re-enter the company after a break. A new report revealed that this happens owing to lack of facilities such as flexible timings, pick-and-drop facilities and hiring policies, among others.
The report – ‘Second innings – Barriers faced by Indian women on re-entering the corporate workforce’ – by the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) and Indian Women’s Network (IWN) was compiled after an online survey involving 179 women and 74 corporate houses. The questions ranged from the need and requirement of women to the readiness of the companies in fulfilling those needs.
While the survey revealed that barely 5% women re-join their company after taking a break, 98% respondents said their families supported their decision to re-enter the workforce.
“It was surprising to see that companies are not looking out to re-hire talent nor do they have a mechanism in place to do so,” said Pallavi Jha, chairperson, CII-IWN, Maharashtra.
The report also found that in some cases, women are being pushed out owing to lack of professional opportunities for advancement and raises. Sixty-four percent respondents felt it will be difficult for them to gain career momentum on re-entering, and they will have difficulty settling in, while about 60% felt they are going to be offered lower level roles, designations and pay after taking a break.
Shilpa Kumar (name changed), a mid-level manager with a leading software company, quit her job two years back owing to health reasons and is now unable to find a suitable position. “It was a difficult decision to quit my job, but I was confident that I could get back into the game when I was ready. But, where ever I have applied, I have been asked to take a pay cut or a lower designation,” she said.
Similarly, an IIM-Calcutta graduate, who took a hiatus to look after her twins, had to give up her area of expertise on her return. “I had to take up a role that I was not familiar with,” said the Pune-resident, who took part in the survey.
According to the HR representative of a finance company, employees often have second thoughts about coming back to work and this could affect their work performance. Also, re-training them is an added expense. “If a person, be it a man or a woman, has second thoughts after joining the workplace after a sabbatical, the company stands to lose. We do not discriminate on the basis of gender and have flexible hours for women right from the beginning,” he said.