This May, S.K. Mohanty gave his wife an unconventional gift. Lipsa, a fine arts graduate and footwear designer, had been on a career hiatus for more than six years, opting out in order to take care of their daughter – a child with special needs. But Mohanty began to realise that his talented spouse was gradually drifting away from her professional identity. So, when he came across Fleximoms, a Delhi-based organisation, which helps capable women like Lipsa get back into the working world, he signed her on for one of their workshops.
“Initially, she thought she couldn't do it,” recalls Mohanty, but Lipsa now conducts painting classes at home — an initial stride towards walking the work-life tightrope.
Fleximoms, a unit of SAITA Consulting Pvt. Ltd., was founded in 2009 by Anita Vasudeva and Sairee Chahal, who say that the entity almost created itself. “We are both women professionals who have incorporated our work into our very vibrant lives; we have both worked with women professionals in our careers. And then, as we were building the teams at SAITA, we were gravitating towards women professionals and Workflex. We were consulting with businesses, and people are such a key component — why weren't they using this huge available talent pool? Why weren't we, as a country, creating an eco-system that encouraged women to get back to work? Why weren't women ramped up to work flexibly?” Vasudeva and Chahal set up Fleximoms to answer these questions.
Fleximoms programmes aid returning women to plan their back-to-work approach fruitfully – counselling them to keep in mind, at all times, their personal scenarios.
Take the case of Rajashree Mitra, an IITian who worked with a top management consultancy before she chose to be with her sons for a few years. When she decided to come back to work, she was unpleasantly surprised to find that she did not receive the warm welcome that professionals of her calibre are used to.
“Fleximoms did two things for me,” Mitra analyses. “They inculcated a certain readiness in me, and clarified my thinking about what I could do.” Mitra polished her knowledge and skills to meet current expectations – and “controlled her eagerness” – talking only to those employers whose offerings matched with her situation.
Today, Mitra says she “goes to sleep happy”. Of course, her part-time role means she will not get the critical jobs in her organisation – but she has learnt to live with that.
There is also complacence. Sudha Kumar, 57, whose partner's career has taken her to 17 locations and through varied jobs — found that her enthusiasm to network professionally was slowly decreasing. Meeting fellow-women at a similar crossroads, Kumar says, brought back her “spirit of challenge”.
Besides workshops and follow-up sessions, Fleximoms also has monthly community meets and is very accessible online.
In addition to connecting community members with corporates looking for ‘back to work' or flexible professionals, the firm also links them with day-care facilities, domestic help agencies and the like. Vasudeva and Chahal have kicked off their initiative with women in the metros – and want to enter smaller cities early next year.
The Fleximoms 2nd Chance Back-to-Work Programme for Women is being conducted in Bangalore on June 23 - 24, 2011.
The Bangalore Community Meet Up is on June 25, 2011, Call at +91 9971714690 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.