Article: Balancing acts: New-age policies empower women's choices

Life @ Work

Balancing acts: New-age policies empower women's choices

Contemporary workplaces are evolving to assist women in navigating the balance between their careers and family responsibilities by implementing innovative policies such as fertility benefits and flexible work arrangements.
Balancing acts: New-age policies empower women's choices

We have come a long way from living in a patriarchal society to now seeing women leading the charge in the business world and shaping the economy. The modern workplace is going through a progressive shift where societal norms are evolving, and corporates are acknowledging the need for a supportive and inclusive work environment that caters to the diverse needs of their female employees.

Traditionally, women faced a harsh trade off - the difficult choice of whether to prioritise their career or start a family. According to recent Genpact research, 73% of women in India quit their employment permanently, and 50% of the working female population resign to take care of their children. Even among those who return to work, 48% have stated that they intend to resign within four months. Fearing their future fertility prospects, a significant number of them quit their employment at the pinnacle of their careers as a result of the aftercare and responsibilities associated with childbirth.  

Today, progress is being made in society, and even corporates are supporting women by upgrading their policies, which encourage women to make progressive choices without giving up on either their career or family. Additionally, there are modifications to the parental leave policies implied for both male and female employees, which are helping create a more level playing field. However, simply offering benefits is not enough, companies must also create a work environment that goes beyond financial assistance to further promote a positive shift in mindset.

Also read: Women fuel India's tech surge, yet leadership gap persists

The rise of new-age policies

The concept of family has expanded beyond the traditional husband-wife-child structure. Today, single parents, LGBTQ+ couples, and others are building families in diverse ways. The Supreme Court has also recently ruled that unmarried couples, including queer couples, can jointly adopt a child. To support the changing preferences of families, companies are creating a culture that values individual choices by offering comprehensive family benefits. This includes not only maternal and paternal leave policies, but also additional fertility benefits like IVF, egg freezing, adoption assistance, etc., which support the changing dynamics of today’s world.

Women are now choosing a different approach to delaying pregnancy while still pursuing their careers. The use of egg freezing and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) has increased in India recently, particularly among working women. The egg-freezing market in India is only 2–5% of its potential market tapped but is expanding gradually and is expected to touch the Rs 25,000 crore mark in 10 years. Moreover, India witnesses around 250,000 - 300,000 IVF treatments annually, which reflects a rise in both procedures.

Empowering women: A vital consideration for the nation's future 

According to a Barclays analysis, for India to reach an 8% growth rate by 2030, women must account for more than half of all new jobs produced. It is critical to emphasise that women's development in the workforce is more than just a moral or ethical necessity; it is a practical strategy with far-reaching consequences for India's economic growth and global competitiveness. Contemporary policies such as IVF and egg freezing are granting women greater autonomy over their reproductive schedules, enabling them to concentrate on their professional pursuits. It also relieves them of the pressure from society to get married young or give up their jobs to have children. Women can now follow their goals on their terms to start their businesses, climb corporate ladders, or start families.  

The way ahead

These benefits go far beyond just supporting women. The future of work necessitates moving beyond traditional models. Companies can create a truly inclusive workplace by embracing new-age policies like fertility benefits, flexible work arrangements, and support for working parents. Having these policies will not only attract and retain top talent but also empower women to make progressive choices that allow them to thrive both in their careers and in their personal lives. As the workplace evolves, companies that prioritise the wellbeing and aspirations of their diverse workforce will be the ones positioned for long-term success.

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Topics: Life @ Work, #Future of Work, #Work Culture, #InternationalWomensDay

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