With #BalanceForBetter being the theme and the buzzword for this year’s International Women’s Day, the conversations continue long after as organizations still look for ways to retain skilled talent who just happen to be women.
A working woman’s career graph is marked by various life stages as is the case for her male counterparts. Increasingly, organizations have observed that while they have no dearth of women talent for the entry-level, as the roles start getting more senior, the number of women in those roles starts to dwindle.
This International Women’s Day, talent leaders and HR professionals such as Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India and Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, People Matters, discussed ways in which organizations can design hands-on programs to retain women for longer--especially at various life stages such as marriage, maternity and medical care for elders.
Also, OLX conducted a panel on the topic of Going beyond diversity along with Taru Dahiya, JPAC Head, SMB Sales, Google Cloud; Nitin Chaudhary, Head of Commercial at OLX; Akanksha Dhamija, Director of User Monetization & Analytics at OLX and Ester Martinez.
The recurring theme in these varied discussions focused on how to help returning mothers transition back into the workplace and the role of mentorship in ensuring that women continue to build their capabilities and occupy more leadership positions.
Returning to the workplace
Motherhood changes not only the mother but also the family. Irrespective of the extension of maternity leave by the government, challenges such as separation anxiety, guilt and the feeling of being excluded from decision-making processes are some of the real struggles faced by women employees across different levels of seniority in an organization.
Apart from an enriching onboarding experience at the time of hiring an employee, the re-boarding of an employee returning from a sabbatical or maternity leave is just as important to ensure that the engagement of top talent within the company.
The strategy should begin long before the employee goes on leave. Chalking out a plan for how her work would look like once she is back after her maternity leave can go a long way in bringing her back into the office. Scheduling virtual phone calls or meetings during the period of the leave can ensure that her opinions are also considered while making decisions.
Flexible working options are a given, according to the panelists. HR leaders can implement those policies that empower women employees to strike a balance for themselves when it comes to their personal and professional lives. Only then would organizations would be able to achieve their goals of achieving a #BalanceForBetter when it comes to gender balance in their boardrooms.
Role of mentorship
When organizations look towards integrating work and personal lives of their employees, a support system complete with mentors and sponsors--both women and men--who would boost the employees to excel in their careers are crucial. Entry-level employees can greatly benefit from mentorship programs because they will be able to closely interact with suitable role models.
Getting honest and constructive feedback is helpful not only for women but also for men. Being able to speak out in a safe environment can help both HR leaders, employees and managers align their goals and expectations in a way that enhances productivity.
Continuous learning is the mantra of today’s digital workforce. Even more so for those employees returning to the workforce after a break--be it due to a sabbatical for medical care of family members or mothers post-maternity. The key takeaway from these discussions is that every person needs role models to remain inspired, must be engaged in work that challenges her to step out of the comfort zone and continue to learn in order to remain engaged in the workforce.