The Imperative of Nurturing India's Women in the Workforce
New Issues & Opportunities for India's Professional WomenWorking Mother Media hosted its Women's Advancement conference here in Bangalore, co-sponsored by Diversity Best Practices. Over three days, there were sessions and networking opportunities designed to encourage companies that do business in India to participate in dialogue on how to enable working women to be successful, grow their careers, and manage personal and family responsibilities. HR participants shared best practices for creating inclusive workplace environments that leverage individual talents, for the good of the organization and for its employees.
It is an exciting time to be a working woman in India, but also a very difficult one as well.
We at Horizons Workforce Consulting just completed a survey, Workforce Insights: India, in collaboration with the WoMentoring Initiative of the Mumbai chapter of the National Human Resource Development (NHRD). We learned a lot about what it's like for working people with "great jobs" in organizations throughout the country. As I sat on the bus in Bangalore, I was reminded of one response: " My major worry is dropping and picking up my child...while managing the office timings and daily travel." Many with "great jobs" are with multinationals who keep hours supporting operations in the USA and UK. With the time difference, this can be a challenge and source of significant stress for working parents.
Work, Life, and Career Aspirations in IndiaPerhaps the biggest finding in the survey was how important career aspirations are to the engagement of employees. Workers in India are well-educated and career-oriented. When they cannot continue in their chosen career, it is at great loss to the organization. One respondent noted that "I have basically quit work full time and taken up part time assignments to bring up my children." Organizations in India that address the barriers and challenges to having a career and managing one's life have a competitive edge. It's key to provide supports like mentoring, coaching, child care provisions, and resources to help women re-integrate back to work after the birth or adoption of a child.
While in Bangalore last week, I was reminded of how hard it can be to manage work and life. These families, those who are educated and those employed at "great jobs," are the lucky ones.