Article: Making a Career Comeback: Second Career Study


Making a Career Comeback: Second Career Study

Returning to the workplace was never easy for women, but organizations today realise the need to rehire this committed workforce to tackle the talent deficit
Making a Career Comeback: Second Career Study

70% of the companies that harbour a policy of hiring women returnees are very happy with their performance


Most line managers responded that there was a certain level of diffidence in rehiring women, since the focus at work gets diluted


When Parul and Prashanth decided to get married, they knew their needs required both of them to remain employed with their respective MNCs. 5 years and one baby later, Parul was ready to take a break from a full-time job and devote the energy she spent in her role in a Fortune 500 company on her growing family and newborn child. This situation was not what the couple had envisaged, but it had come to pass because of the inevitable patriarchal inveiglement that subtly forces women into taking a backseat in their careers. McKinsey & Co.’s ‘Women Matter’ report points out that women enter the corporate world with a strong ambitious streak, but often end up turning down opportunities due to family commitments. Women employees who quit work due to various familial reasons form a large segment of the country’s untapped talent. Realizing this, organizations in today’s talent deficit environment, are trying hard to drive this pool of ex-incumbents back to work. Interestingly, a study by AVTAR I-WIN, More Than HR Global (MTHRG), Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management of IIT and People Matters on ‘Second Career for Women’ concluded that women who return to firms after such a break outperform and are preferred to their male counterparts.

The ‘Second Career for Women’ survey was carried out to exemplify the need for a defined approach towards the rehiring of women who opt out of the workplace at some point. Survey findings concluded that the number of women who have to leave work due to personal reasons, and then seek a second chance to pursue their careers has increased considerably.

The positives

Deepak Deshpande of Netmagic Solutions comments, “Women understand the strengths and weaknesses of people well. If we hire them back to work, we get more mature, resilient and strong people.” Also, a study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute revealed that in case of large cap companies, whose market cap is greater than $10 billion, companies with women board members outperformed those without women by as much as 26 percent. The study also iterated that former type of companies had a higher return on equity, lower gearing, higher price/book value multiples and better average growth.

The Survey reflects that 70 percent of companies that harbor a policy of hiring women returnees are very happy with their performance and employees at all levels believe that employees should be sensitized and trained to work with women returnees. Also, while male returnees usually look at pay packages and promotion opportunities, women counterparts are able to match their expectations with the organization with much ease. In addition to this, having already taken a break in their careers, such women are less likely to attrite soon. Having returned on their own resolve, they illustrate a higher level of commitment too.

Why then?

Going by the results of these studies, there are too many positives in the bargain of rehiring women. Why then do we face this crunch wherein companies have a talent deficit and the pool of women who want to work remains unemployed?

As per the survey, 50 percent of senior level executives, 48 percent of middle level executives and 57 percent of junior management staff, agreed that they have an existing policy in place to hire women willing to return. At the same time, most line managers responded that there was a certain level of diffidence in rehiring women, since the focus at work gets diluted to some extent. A considerable 26 percent of senior executives, 25 percent of middle management and 34 percent of junior staff believe, that women when rehired, often choose to leave again. Saagarika Ghoshal of Reliance Big Entertainment supplemented, “Women professionals and managers still face a traditional feudal mindset at workplaces that continues to recycle the stereotypical image of women.”

Looking ahead

Considering that women returnees are opportunity, organizations must figure out how to benefit from it. While some women may come back due to reasons such as boredom or financial need, the ones who do not have these compulsions may never even consider coming back. For the latter lot, companies must dig, and then make offers that are attractive enough for them to join back.

Restructuring organization models and strategies to suit current requirements is just the beginning. Businesses need to take a fresh stance towards hiring women returnees and find the right balance to manage this unmatched talent pool. This transformation is essential at the macro level and must be fuelled by the leadership team. The attempt should be to move away from the traditional way of managing talent by adopting a novel methodology to harness this growing dimension.

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Topics: Diversity, Strategic HR

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