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When working women feel at home …

K. T. Jagannathan
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What do working women require to prolong their career? Job protection is certainly not the answer if a nation-wide study titled ‘Viewport 2012', conducted by Chennai-based social enterprise FLEXI Careers India, is to go by. The study has identified certain ‘career enablers' which women can utilise on their own to succeed in the workplace.

FLEXI Careers works towards increasing the workforce participation rate of women in the country.

The study, in fact, has identified 10 ‘career enablers' which could help working women prolong their careers. The women interviewed for the study also have identified the top three enablers that could result in a dramatic increase in their engagement levels. They are: Flexible working arrangements; mentoring and sponsorship; and skill-building initiatives. These three could make the difference between women staying on or leaving an organisation, finds the study. The women covered by the study want corporate India to take up the mentoring and sponsorship responsibility. However, they feel they are capable of negotiating themselves the two other enablers — flexi working and skill-building.

“Career enablers are both organisation-led and individual-led. For instance, appointing a care-giver at home is an individual-led career enabler, which allows the working woman to outsource some of the basic responsibilities at home. Provision of an inspiring peer group is an organisation-led enabler, since this is the onus of the company to ensure that the culture of the workplace is empowering and motivating for a woman employee,” the study says.

The participants have identified five organisation-led and four individual-led enablers, which together could result in greater gender diversity in the Indian workplace. The study identified four broad categories of enablers — sustainability enabler, growth enabler, balance enabler and satisfaction enabler. These four help women not only to lead a productive and satisfying career, but also manage their work-life integration well. The women participants are from diverse industries such as BPO, telecom, IT, banking, FMCG and hospitality.

Describing a ‘hierarchy of requirements' which are essential for retaining women in the workplace, the report, which is authored by Saundarya Rajesh, Founder-President, and Karthik Ekambaram, Assistant Vice-President (Consulting Services) at FLEXI Careers India, offers a ‘how-to' model for organisations to attract, retain and grow women in their workplaces.

“The implementation of career enablers will allow organisations not only to engage their current women employees better, but also bring back the over 1.5 million women who have stepped off the workplace due to non-sustainability of careers. Implementing just one of the career enablers, namely, flexible working, will ensure that over five lakh women professionals re-enter the workforce. The impact this will have in terms of rupee value in addressing the skill-gap that India faces is humungous,” the study says.

According to Saundarya Rajesh, “career enablers serve not only to reinforce the fact that new factors are required for enhancing the growth of the woman employee, but also to ensure that she performs well in all spheres.


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