India loses 50% of its women workforce within the first 5 to 7 years of their professional careers- the time frame when they get married and have children. A big reason for that – While we mothers cherish motherhood, we let it engulf us instead of enriching us.
Our mission at TalentNomics India is to create an eco-system that will empower more women to stay the course, pursue their careers without drowning in the dual responsibilities or wallowing in guilt of non-performance. We impart skills and knowledge to women to become confident and capable enough not to be engulfed by motherhood and reach the pinnacles of their careers, if they desire to do so. We work with women to address issues at the workplace as well as at their homes, since career trajectories of women are defined not just by their professional prowess but their ability to navigate the challenges of their personal life cycles as well. Virtually every working woman goes through a phase of rethinking her career aspirations after having kids-thanks to the conditioning girls grow up with and the societal norms. Should I continue working or should I take a break? Will my kids and family suffer if I am not able to give 100% of my time to them? , Is it worth missing the moments in my child’s growth for the sake of my career these and similar questions pop up very often in the minds of professional women (but rarely for professional men) once they become parents. Some are able to build up a support system and carry on their professional journeys even after having kids, while several women end up taking temporary or permanent breaks.
Therefore, as part of CruciBOLD – our Leadership Development program for women, we mentor women on how to navigate their way out of the personal-professional dilemmas and discover the keys to achieving that elusive work-life balance. For instance, our recently concluded session on Negotiating for Self was all about equipping the participants with skills to ask for what they need and negotiate the best terms at work and at home. We also help women address their guilt by making them aware of research that has proven that children of working mothers turn out to be high achievers and grow into happy adults.
We have also gathered pathbreaking and actionable insights from TalentNomics India’s Annual Conferences that bring together Thought Leaders from across industries and sectors to deliberate upon themes related to advancing women’s careers and building a leadership pipeline of women. Some key takeaways on this issue, from the last four Conferences include-
- Motherhood and career are not mutually exclusive, and women should believe that right from the beginning of their professional lives.
- Mothers should focus on investing quality time with children instead of fretting over the quantity of time
- Women should look for a championing spouse rather than just a supportive spouse!
- Creating equal partnership at home should be the responsibility of both parents so that they can be role models for their boys and girls.
- Both partners should swap gender roles at home and share the parenting responsibility by seamlessly stepping in for each other.
- Women should find their inner drive and make choices without regrets.
- Working parents should leverage their personal and professional networks to raise families and meet their work commitments.
- Marriages based on shared passions are found to be the most rewarding, creating a home environment that naturally helps all members to move away from traditional norms to models that can lead to greater fulfillment for all.
- Mentoring women at this crucial stage of their career could help them make the right choice for themselves and their families. More mentoring programs should be offered by organizations for women to deal with this specific challenge.
- However, sometimes women may need to take on the full responsibility of running the home and bringing up children because of circumstances. This is fine as long as women get their chance to focus on what they want to do and the men/family support them fully.
In addition to mentoring women, we also realise that the women alone cannot fight the patriarchal mindsets deeply embedded in society or find their way up in workplaces that were traditionally designed for men. Which is why we at TalentNomics India are also trying to play a role in addressing the inefficiencies in the ecosystem around working women and to build an environment that is conducive to helping women thrive in their careers at every stage in their life.
For instance, our recently concluded Perception Survey to understand how Women Friendly are India’s Organisations showed that workplaces are highly biased against pregnant women and working mothers and we are now offering internal perception studies in organisations to help them cull out and address such biases.
To showcase role models for women, Our book, Bold and Untold-Life and Leadership Lessons from women who dared to dream outlines stories of women who even in traditional and conservative families had found allies to to create a space for meeting their aspirations.
In the coming future, we will be rolling out other initiatives in partnership with various players in the ecosystem, in an endeavour to create a more level playing field for women at all stages of their life.
Shravani is the Founder of elleNomics, a digital platform aggregating resources for enabling women to advance and thrive. She is an Economist with more than 12 years’ experience in policy research with organisations like ICRIER and World Bank.