Akshata Daptardar, 27, had a thriving career in a private bank until she decided to have a child two years ago. Few months into her pregnancy, the Thane resident could not tolerate the commute to her office at Malad and left her job. A year after her son’s birth, she now plans to join a leading co-operative bank at Vikhroli and has to start all over again.
She is one of the many women who take career breaks and find it hard to come back to the same job because of the child’s responsibilities. ‘WILL Mother’s Handbook,’ a study released by Vantage Insurance Brokers earlier this month said only 40% of women who want to return to their jobs after maternity manage to get a full-time job. Almost 85% of mid-level and senior women executives are being lost by companies on account of women who do not return to work after maternity,” said TK Kanchana, executive director, Vantage Insurance Brokers and Risk Advisors.
“It is depressing to sit at home but at the same time you constantly worry about the child if the workplace is far away. I was also getting worried about the gap in my career because if you take too long to get back then you are not updated with the industry,” said Daptardar, who is still searching for a good crèche.
The handbook is based on interviews with 3000 women working across 250 companies in India conducted in 2011 and 2012.
Adequate maternity leave, flexible working hours, tie-ups with crèches, re-orientation programmes are some of the practices that help retain women in the work force, said the study.
“We studied the attrition pattern and started offering a robust child care policy such as tie up with crèches close to office and residence. We also started a reorientation programme and provided mentors for women,” said Ritu Anand, vice president and deputy head, global human resources, Tata Consultancy Services. TCS is listed as one of the companies with good practices.
“It is a huge waste of talent and investment in education and training of women if they cut short their careers. But how can they keep up without messing social and familial relationships? It will not be resolved easily,” said Gita Sen from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Experts said apart from providing facilities, women also need to be accepted at par with men when it comes to performance reviews and senior level opportunities after the break.
“All the terms being used today to give mentors or “buddies” to the women who return to work will not be successful if the women themselves do not feel that they have a “level playing field” when they come back to work, and would rather start their own business or stay at home,” said Kanchana.