As gender diversity is becoming a key priority for India's organizations, one key issue is how to encourage women to the workforce since women's participation in the labor force in India has been declining. India has many well-trained women staying at home, unable to work because they cannot get out of their homes since they are primary caretakers. If they try to get back to work after they have been away for years, they frequently face the refusal of employers who look down on their career break. For most women across India, household chores and childcare are provided in addition to their regular duties. Jobs for Her's survey found that 70 percent of women in India shift after marriage. A significant portion of them relocates to Tier 2/3 cities in a country where work prospects are poor, putting a stop to a woman's career graph.
As WFH is expected to become the practice for a significant section of the workforce in the aftermath of COVID-19, businesses are opening up new positions targeting women looking for a second shot in the working world since this pandemic has changed the organization's perspective to promote more WFH involvement. When women leave their jobs for familial responsibilities, it is always difficult for them to get back in. Even when they enter the workforce, they resume at a lower level than their colleagues who have progressed into their professions by then. Many women were not offered the flexibility to follow their careers while raising a family, one of the significant contributors to fewer women leaders in senior positions. The very concept of remote work also enables spouses whose partners have a transferable job to find work. Increasing the opportunities for remote work will make a big difference. This extends beyond women with husbands who often have regular transferable careers. Research demonstrates that heterosexual couples are more likely to move to a man's work than a woman. Although new studies indicate that that is because of the nature of jobs that men pursue, it also means that women are far more likely to be what is known as the "trailing wife." Remote work enables these women to remain in the same role even though they move to work for their spouse. Now that WFH is set to become a standard in various organizations, it will be easier for those women who have not taken up work or left her career midway due to family obligations.
Rigid working hours and lack of remote working options are among the factors that historically kept numerous women away from the job market in the pre-Covid era. WFH will help build a more flexible environment where we can attract talent that wants more balance in work and life — this would include young talent and women. Technology, being one of the main enablers of WFH, leads to jobs with flexibility. WFH, an arrangement presents itself as an opportunity for those desirous to come back for women's career progression. Its flexible options of working from home open new avenues for women who wish to pursue a career, despite personal commitments. This flexibility that this has created is very good for all of us. Business heads believe that the current work-from-home environment — which saves cost and enhances productivity — could turn into a level playing field for women who have been making career sacrifices due to child care, care for the elderly, and other family commitments. Thus, it will provide many opportunities to engage with women and other underrepresented talent pools, such as people with disabilities. In the Indian startup atmosphere, Unacademy has reported that 60 percent of its 1,000-strong employees will operate from home. Indian tech companies like TCS and HCL are also looking at many employees working from home. Organizations like Dell, Shopify are introducing permanent WFH for employees who wish for it even after the pandemic is over. Tata Steel recently announced remote working for its white-collar workers. Organizations adapt to this new normal. It helps them in cost-cutting, improving employee productivity as they do not have to commute to work, and attracting the best talent without any location constraints. New technologies are rising to make remote work seamless for both stakeholders.
Data shows that the number of work-from-home jobs posted on Jobs For Her, a job search portal for women, has increased by about 30% in the last month compared with the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the number of applications from women job seekers has risen 50% in March compared with a month earlier. An increasing number of companies are opening several earlier roles do not open for women as many of those job roles are turning into work from home. As per JobsForHer data, some of the positions advertised for women comprise data scientists, data engineers, graphic designers, Android developers, customer support assistants, virtual customer support associates, and back end developers.
Businesses who support flexibility and invest in women can see the advantages of their staff and their companies. The rationale for promoting women in the company has been widely developed. It helps to drive financial results and creativity. Besides, women who want to go back to work comprise a committed pool of talent that can be brought up to speed with training and encouragement. Bringing these women back into the workforce also helps create a high-quality pipeline of senior position women, such as directors or vice presidents, which is insufficient in India. Studies revealed that female leaders could help the success in business of an organization. In contrast, prospective hires and even stakeholders are continually being challenged by all-male executive leadership.
Another significant change that the new normal has resulted in the rise in female entrepreneurship. With the technological revolution, increase in awareness because of better connectivity, more women are taking up entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship offers these motivated women the ability to take part in both their priorities- family & work. Managing their own companies allows them the freedom to set the conditions for flexibility and insist on the standard of work being completed on time. After all, the women who start such businesses are more likely to have a healthier work-life balance and a better lifestyle.
WFH opens up a world of possibilities for those women who already have the skills, qualifications, experience, and drive to resume their careers with pleasure and are waiting for the right number of opportunities to make the transition into their careers. Furthermore, except in situations where women had to return home in the middle of a pandemic, businesses were most welcoming. Some of the key strategies which can be adopted by the organizations to bring & retain 'Her' in the workforce using the WFH model are:
A good design mentorship program for female employees who wish to return to the workforce & retaining married women:
- Well curated need-based training program to restore confidence & upskilling the women
- Performance-based transparency focusing on the output rather than hours spent
- Encouraging virtual short-term projects, volunteering opportunities, internships & contingent work for women who crave flexibility
- Organizing networking events for knowledge sharing & learning from experiences for women
- Re-imagining sexual harassment policies for virtual medium