Careers

Moms watch out for each other

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Part of a huge online community, these mothers meet offline regularly to chalk out programmes that would advance their careers

For those who have allowed themselves to be largely defined by their work, a sabbatical can be agonising, even if they have opted for it.

They would dread being a rusty tool in the corporate shed when the D-Day arrives. If it’s an indefinite sabbatical, the pain can be even more excruciating.

So, how do they fill the gap-years between “work” and “return to work” with meaning, which is essentially about ensuring the purpose of the sabbatical is served, and at the same time, they stay on course as professionals?

In the case of mothers on a sabbatical who want to return to work, part-time or full-time, there is now more support than ever before. There are recruitment companies that specifically focus on this section of the workforce. An increasing number of companies make it easier for mothers on a comeback trail to settle down in meaningful jobs by relaxing certain rules for them.

The support comes in various permutations and combinations, all of which serve the same goal. Out of these, there may be those initiatives that are clearly off the beaten track.

UNIMO Universe of Moms, a Facebook initiative with local moorings, seems to typify such initiatives. In its essential form, it is a huge gathering of moms who watch out for each other.

“UNIMO Universe of Moms has 21 chapters, with some of them representing cities outside India. The most significant chapter is the MUMO Mumbai Moms, as it has 1.94 lakh moms as members, and it was the first chapter to be formed. All the 21 chapters put together, we are a community of 3.4 lakh mothers, digitally connected on Facebook, which also makes us the world’s largest community of mothers supporting each other,” says Neha Kare Kanabar, founder of UNIMO Universe of Moms. Incidentally, Neha is the lead of the Mumbai chapter of Community Leadership Circles, a global Facebook initiative to empower community leaders.

Neha explains that the UNIMO community helps moms in various ways, and one of these is ensuring career-advancement.

'Her turn to earn'

One of three initiatives for moms, “Her Turn To Earn” gets moms looking for a new job to fill a Google form, listing the profile of the jobs they are looking for, and their choices in terms of work-hours, compensation packages and flexibility.

“Recruiters come to us with job profiles. We go through the Google forms filled by our moms and establish matches.

Based on that, we approach the moms and tell them they could upload their resumes on the portals of the recruiters who have jobs that match their (moms’) expectations. There is no fee for this service. Another element to ‘Her Turn To Earn’ is inviting brands to a job fair we organise.

“The job fair will be attended by those of our moms who are looking for jobs. Here, we only charge the companies a fee for the opportunity we provide them to amplify their brands before their target group. We don’t charge the companies on the number of hires they have managed at the job fair. Again, no fee is charged for the moms,” explains Neha.

Mentorship skills

Mentoring is the second intervention carried out on this model.

“We encourage moms who believe they have mentoring skills, to announce it to the rest of the community. Those of the other moms who want to be mentored by any of them can connect with the person. To run this model, we are using the mentorship-programme option that Facebook offers to some groups. There will be a button suggesting that this option is present,” says Neha.

“Besides, we also conduct seminars with the help of leaders from the corporate world, and every seminar is built on a three-hour format. In the first hour, a corporate leader would give a ‘mentoring’ talk. The second hour is about ‘brand-opportunities’ talk; and the third hour is for networking,” says Neha.

‘Hiring’ moms

UNIMO follows a policy that whenever it has to find expertise to carry out any aspect of its community work, it would not look beyond the moms in the group.

“Moms on a sabbatical would work on a volunteering basis. Our moms find it fulfilling, as it lets them stay in touch with their professional-domains. We don’t pay the moms, but there is a system of barter in place. We usually send these volunteering-moms for a workshop of their interest and they don’t have to pay for it. It is a win-win situation.

“Let me give an example. Poonam Pandit is an IIM-graduate from Hyderabad who came to Mumbai on account of marriage. Childbirth meant that she had to keep her career in suspension. She was on a sabbatical for six long years, and the long break dented her confidence as a professional.

“We made her our alliance head, and she served the community for two years. She would say she gained in confidence, thanks to the two years of her break being spent more meaningfully. She landed a good corporate job at the end of it.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 11:25:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/moms-watch-out-for-each-other/article30161602.ece

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