Retaining Talent and Helping Women Get Back To Their Careers

Date:   Monday , December 28, 2015

Headquartered in Massachusetts, Virtusa Corporation is a multinational IT services company that caters to the IT Consulting, Business Consulting, Systems Implementation and Application Outsourcing needs of software vendors and large businesses.

It is an interesting age to be a career woman! They are breaking norms and asserting their presence everywhere in a way like never before. Disruptions of hierarchy can be seen in the corporate world as well where women are breaking the glass ceiling of gender biasness and emerging to be niche talent, especially for technology companies. Such times call for an overhauling of corporate policies to help engage and retain such talent. One of the most important policies that garnered maximum attention for change by corporates and businesses is the maternity policy.

Significant changes have been seen by companies desperately trying to revamp their policies centered on women. Not to forget the burgeoning number of start-ups which are further fueling the talent war. Amidst such wars of talent hunt, established companies need to constantly pep up their policies and creatively incentivize their female workforce to retain them in their organization. Currently, about 30 percent of employees in the technology sector are women. However, a catalyst report points out that nearly 50 percent of Indian women drop out of the corporate employment pipeline between junior and mid-levels, compared with 29 percent across Asia. Therefore it pays to retain and secure such talent.

The technology industry, essentially considered to be man\'s world is now warming up to the idea and understanding the importance of preserving \'to-be mom\' employees for the development of both business and society. Top companies are leaping ahead in the race to dole out the fanciest benefits for their employees. According to the Monster Salary Index India IT Sector Report 2014, only 30 percent of the total IT sector workforce in India is women and this fairer sex also faces a huge gender pay gap of 29 percent. It is often found that women don\'t receive their due at work.

Embracing motherhood when one\'s career is flourishing can be a daunting task. More so, when one gets back in the game, there are so many challenges one faces; right from the apparent skill gap to juggling both careers and motherhood with a certain degree of success. In addition to this, there is an obvious skill gap, as once they resume they find it difficult to get back completely on a project or there is a lack of flexible timings. Even though reducing the gender gap is much more of a generic issue, increasing parity in boardrooms is completely in the hand of corporates. There is still a lot to be done to empower women in the boardroom. A well-structured, open minded and sustained maternity policy would not only save millions of rupees for companies, but empower the fairer sex to be the best of what they can.
While crafting programmes for women around maternity, the following pointers can be mulled over:
- Initially when women are trying to get back into work, they should be allowed flexible timings so that they can get adjusted to the work environment. This will help them to once again acclimatize and comfort themselves in the work environment. It provides for a smoother transition.

- Once back on board, instead of directly placing them into active roles, it would be better if they are allowed to work on specific projects with clear deliverables and support. This would not only help them regain their confidence level that is very much required at this step, but also ignites confidence on their skills and abilities. More importantly, help them manage the day-to day stress, meet deadlines and better balance their work-life.

- Also there would be a need to close the skill gap that may have surfaced due to absence from work for a prolonged period. Through specific trainings, they can pick up the relevant skill set required to help them advance and be at par with their colleagues. When women rejoin the organization, there tends to be a skill gap which makes them lose out on any interesting projects or anything challenging. The consequences are lower pay cheques, biased promotions and slower career growth. Thus, it is one of the foremost challenges that need to be overcome in order to keep the women engaged and give them some incentive to stay in the organization.

- It is also equally important to mentor and connect with women leadership to help them in the transition period. Senior leadership/managers should constantly connect with female employees, updating them on the developments in the organization and engaged with the organizational happenings. This not only engages them through this transition period, but makes them feel important and involved in the organization.

- Organizations should also provide childcare facilities like day care centres, stress management and counselling on early parenthood. Many companies now have an in-house day care centre where women employees can avail such facilities. All this goes a long way in sustaining, strengthening employer-employee relationship.

- Parenting is a man\'s job as well. Supporting paternity policies, where in organizations recognize that a father\'s role is equally important, not only results in better employer-employee relationship, but also makes coming back to work easier for women. Most women can\'t come back to work simply because they have no help. A standard paternity policy gives to-be-fathers a five day leave. Paternity leave gives men an opportunity to develop a stronger bond with the child from birth. Policies like these are adopted to stay in touch with the present generation\'s reality and their challenges. It supports employees and encourages them to give their best when at the workplace. Coming back to women, policies such as these will help in bolstering and easing a women\'s transition.

Many companies around the world have crafted progressive policies to support women during maternity and also employees better juggle work-family balance. This is a positive step taken in that direction. However, it is important for mind sets to change. As more and more women actively lead organizations and become an indispensable asset to a company, corporates must fully equip themselves with a holistic and an-all-encompassing policy to retain them.