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Companies make second coming a homecoming

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Women who decide to raise a family perhaps have the most daunting cultural roles to perform — the foremost being that perfect, doting mother. For those women with little support systems, the joy of motherhood comes at the cost of their career.

The good news is that many technology firms — who are the real ambassadors of workplace diversity today — have put in place robust processes to end this brain-drain to cultural demands. From rolling out special initiatives to building a community support system within the organisation to launching learning modules, the tech industry has built a successful model of talent retention.

“If there’s one thing that employers can do to help women who want to return to work, it is to remain flexible,” says Pallavi Tyagi, chief HR officer, Capgemini India. The company’s fareWelcome programme is designed to support women during their maternity leave. It assists women to transition from office to maternity leave, helps stay connected with the organisation and their colleagues, and eases the ‘back to work’ transition process. “For women on maternity leave we also have an extended maternity leave which allows women to take an additional one month leave over and above the six months leave. If a mother needs more time to be with her child, she can avail of a sabbatical leave which is a minimum of 6 months to 2 years. Returning new mothers at Capgemini can also avail of the flexi-work option which is available to all employees in the organisation,” says Tyagi.

Flipkart’s ‘Mom on Board’ programme seeks to provide women guilt-free parenting and work experience through shared life hacks. New moms are connected with senior women leaders in the organisation, who share their learnings. There’s an online and offline community that supports new mothers and parents alike, through networking sessions, counselling and by providing relevant reading material. Then there are `hosting inclusion circles’ for managers, stakeholders and mothers, to create an empathetic work environment where parents feel supported and celebrated.

“As parents, they should not need to prioritise work over children, or vice versa,” says Flipkart’s chief people officer Krishna Raghavan.

Many companies now ease the process for new moms with state-of-art daycare centres. SAP established a massive facility several years ago. Goldman Sachs has a similarly large one in its new campus in Bengaluru. SAS India’s HR director Srinivas Rao says the company has tied up with a daycare centre near the office so that new moms can visit their babies 3-4 times a day.

Many now also have robust programmes to get women who have taken a break to return to work and to help them adjust quickly to the new work demands.

Accenture Operations’ Career Reboot, launched in 2017, targets seamless reintegration of women who are on a career break. The programme is a six-month structured journey with periodic leadership connect, domain training and learning sessions. Accenture Advanced Technology Centres in India (ATCI) have over 900 Returning Mothers Coaches.

Uber’s U4Her helps women on a break re-enter the active workforce through a 3-6 month project immersion. This is for both tech and non-tech roles across Gurugram, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Recharge is PayPal’s unique six-week programme where women on a career break, with at least five years’ work experience, are selected for a boot camp to undergo rigorous technical orientation. This is followed up with an interview, where they could potentially land a job.

Last year, Capgemini hired over 200 professionals through CAPtivate, a women-only career comeback initiative launched in 2017.

VMware describes its VMinclusion Taara, launched in India in December last year, as one of the country’s largest upskilling programmes aimed at supporting women who want to get back to the workforce and effectively give them a second chance at a successful career in technology. The programme helps women upgrade their technical knowledge. Certifications on the latest IT solutions in datacenter, networking, cloud and cloud management technologies are provided under this programme.

Flipkart’s Raghavan says that with the right policies in place, “working parents can achieve great success without any compromises, while bringing their ‘whole’ selves to work everyday.”

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