India’s Companies Make Working Moms A Priority

According to a new report from The Economic Times, Indian firms are far more likely to hire returning mothers in 2011 — 56% companies compared with 36% globally. ”With increased participation of women in the workforce , companies, especially existing employers, look at bringing them back instead of losing them to the market,” says E Balaji, managing director, Ma Foi Randstad, a staffing services firm.

Companies in India including IBM, L’Oreal and Maybelline are working on programs to ease working mothers back into industries. ”We want to identify the most effective channels and methods to bring back qualified women professionals who’ve taken career breaks,” says Kalpana Veeraraghavan, workforce diversity manager at IBM India.  IBM India is piloting a programme titled ‘Bring Her Back’ , in its Global Delivery Business unit. It also has a separate program called Liquid Plus, designed for women who want to work on a part-time basis when they come back.  According to the report, IBM depends mainly on employee referrals and taps high-performing alumni who left 3-5 years ago. Training on technical and soft skills upgradation , and mentoring is done on the job. The IT industry has done a very good job of retaining women with these types of programs because they know they don’t want to lose this talent pool. These people can pick up quickly from where they left,” says Purvi Sheth of Shilputsi, an HR consulting firm.

L’Oreal in India doesn’t have an officially policy yet but on a case-by-case basis at least a dozen women have benefited from the company allowing female employees coming back from maternity leave to have flexible work options. “We’re sensitive to individual needs. We make sure the gap does not affect their careers,” says HR director Mohit James. At L’Oreal nearly 50% of employees are women, close to the 60% in its global operations.

Though the U.S. and Canada are making some strides, it seems India is in better shape in this department. A flexible work schedule helps employers retain mothers who have just returned to their jobs after giving birth, according to a new study. ”When confronted by one or more job demands, a flexible schedule provides working moms with alternatives for meeting those demands while caring for their newborns. When working moms are better able to control their work environment and adapt, work-related stress is less likely to become a family issue,” study author Dawn S. Carlson, a professor of management at Baylor University. She and her colleagues also found that working women with new babies were more likely to stick with their jobs if they have job security and can make use of a variety of their job skills, while the effects of work-related stress on their physical and mental health increases the risk of them leaving their job. The researchers surveyed 179 full-time working mothers in North Carolina, average age 31, at three intervals, scheduled at four, eight and 12 months after they gave birth. The women had worked an average of 39.7 hours per week and planned on returning to work 30 or more hours a week four months after giving birth.

Photo: wong yu liang/

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