Work from home helps married women return to work

MUMBAI: Last year, when Divya Kohad, 27, got married, she had to quit her job in Bengaluru because her husband was based in another city. Divya wanted to spend time with her in-laws before she took up another job. Post-Covid, as more options emerged on the WFH front, Divya, now based at her husband’s native place Jaipur, decided to look for a job.
Although initially her “career break” posed a hurdle, she has got a job with an investment bank and is happily working from home.
Divya is one of the 86% of married women surveyed who has sought a job post-Covid. This is over 40% higher as compared to pre-Covid times, says the survey of women job applicants by Avtar Group shared exclusively with TOI.

WFH helps women on break: Study
The survey was carried out by leading diversity, equity and inclusion firm Avtar Group between December 2020-February 2021, and has been shared exclusively with TOI. A majority of these women are in the age bracket of 25-35 years, where it’s a constant struggle for India Inc to fix a leaky pipeline.
“Both my husband and my in-laws were motivating me to get back to work. I share the household chores with my mother-in-law, who is more than happy to adjust with my shift timings at the new job,” said Divya.
An increasing number of married women applying for jobs post-Covid is a clear indication of rising career choice among female employees who find a better work-life integration with WFH.

The survey points towards the changing dynamics among women, marriage and careers, given that 44% of the women job applicants were from the mid-career stage. About 20% of these were married women on career breaks.
“This marks a big change. In the previous year, around the same time, the split was more skewed towards single women among job applicants,” said Saundarya Rajesh, founder of Avtar Group. Many women take career breaks due to various reasons following marriage, spousal relocation and child care.
“The broad narrative among some of the women job applicants we spoke to is that post-pandemic there has been a general acceptance among women and their families on working as a large number of organisations are offering WFH options to employees. So, they feel it is going to be easier to manage their work-life integration,” said Rajesh.
Sectors that are the early adopters to remote work options, such as IT/ITeS and BFSI, are the most sought-after by women applicants, the study said.
“Remote/hybrid work models are being adopted across industries and they offer a lot more choice and flexibility to employees. The post-pandemic world will see an increasing trend of more women joining the workforce,” said TCS chief leadership & diversity officer Ritu Anand. With over 1,75,000 women, TCS is among the largest female employers in the country.
Anand said a holistic reintegration programme that offers women who rejoin work after a break is needed. She cited ‘Ethos’, a programme at TCS, which helps create an ecosystem to “enable, engage and develop employees” who are returning after a long leave.
Google India senior director (gTech), Madhuri Duggirala, said digital services is a sector most naturally conducive to working from home in a post-pandemic world.
However, a second theme that Avtar picked up can be concerning. Among these women job applicants who are married, there were many who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Many of them are concentrated in the lower order skills, which points to a possibility that they may have lost their jobs because of a skill gap. “Even though job intentionality exists, redundancy at work due to skill gaps is an issue. This is a wake-up call for women to upskill to grow in their careers. Organisations need to sensitize women professionals to invest in skilling themselves,” said Rajesh.
Duggirala said the pandemic has served to sharpen the mission of the DigiPivot__a platform to build digital marketing skillsets among women. An increasing number of women are seeking opportunities to pivot to careers such as digital marketing, which are likely to function in a combination of on-site and remote work formats in the future. “This is a time when reskilling is extremely relevant, especially when the option of remote work eases one of the key frictions for women managing families, which is time spent away from home,” said Duggirala.
From 2016 to 2020, companies offering remote working has risen to 85% from 60%, while those having formal programmes to recruit second career programmes also grew to 65% up from 30%.
The study tracked job applications from 1,347 women professionals who enrolled for jobs across functions and roles from 11 locations in India.

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