Flexible employment for homemakers is gaining ground in corporate India

Updated - January 24, 2024 10:38 am IST

Published - January 24, 2024 09:23 am IST

After easing the way back to the cubicle for women professionals through second-career programmes, organisations are now bringing stay-at-home moms on their payrolls through flexible employment.

Shikha Gupta is one of the faces of this trend. Forty years old and a mother of two, Shikha does “six calling hours” a day for app-based remote sales platform SquadStack, picking those hours at her convenience.

SquadStack, a nine-year-old company based in Noida, is fast gaining a reputation for promoting this model — finding sales talent among homemakers.

“We have embraced the untapped potential of stay-at-home moms with 70% of our recent hires coming from this segment,” says Apurv Agrawal, co-founder and CEO, SquadStack.

In addition, SquadStack also hires college students and senior citizens with good communication skills and problem-solving abilities.

Apurv notes this model empowers remote workers, particularly women in non-metropolitan areas, who may lack local opportunities but possess maturity and empathy that would be required for roles like sales executive.

Axis Bank launched ‘HouseWorkIsWork’ in January 2022 inspired by an innovative resume it received from a candidate, Pallavi Sharma, who described various facets of her experience as a homemaker as a skill needed in the corporate world.

Later, the bank tweaked its hiring policy to create a talent pool based on gender-agnostic roles in various verticals.

“The intent of the campaign was to hire at least 15 homemakers for available roles in various departments — HR, Sales, Operations and Branch Banking among them. We received applications from over 4,000 homemakers across the country and hired 22 employees,” says Harish Iyer, Vice-President and Head — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Axis Bank.

The company is planning to relaunch this campaign in the coming months.

Start-up FuelBuddy has been hiring stay-at-home moms as “Women Energy Consultants” offering flexible work options.

M2P Fintech, a Chennai-headquartered banking infrastructure company, launched ‘Better Half Program’, one that offers full-time employment to women seeking to balance home and work, with the option of a half working day.

Last year, Titan Company launched ‘Sequal’, a returnship programme that provides women professionals a pathway back to work through time-bound projects, supported by re-entry assistance, mentoring and training.

Based on performance and business needs, candidates are inducted for regular, full-time employment upon completion of the programme. Age is not a bar and roles are open across IT, digital, marketing and finance.

“Sequal is an opportunity to give women a springboard to grow, build their confidence and improve their networking skills. But we noticed that it is not easy to find the right talent and they need a lot of nudging. Of the 75 candidates that showed interest, 20 were enrolled,” says Priya Mathilakath, Head - HR (Retail and Corporate).

A nascent movement

But the number of companies targetting the professional-turned-homemaker segment of the population is still small. According to job site Naukri.com, the job listings for women with career break declined after the pandemic.

According to its data, from 48 every day on an average in October 2019, the listings have plummeted to 19 between October and December 2023.

Returnship programme

Given that gender diversity ratio in corporate India is low, many companies are expanding the scope of returnship programmes. Most companies do not place any restrictions on the age of the candidate or the duration of the career gap. Certain roles have become agnostic in terms of geographic boundaries thanks in large part to the pandemic.

Priya agrees that the silver lining in the pandemic was that hiring managers were now open to taping talent from the professional-turned-homemaker segment and also work out flexible work arrangements for them. “The larger goal of such initiatives is to give women the confidence to make a comeback,” says Priya.

This confidence could also be instilled through feedback, as a note on the Titansequal website puts it: “Feedback will be provided to candidates who are not selected.”

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