New Delhi: In a work environment where many women already often battle barriers like unequal pay, inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment, and find it hard to break through the 'glass ceiling', it can be daunting to get back to full-time work after a maternity break. How, then, can potential employers help?
"I often find that some women in fact tend to overcompensate post maternity leave and even later to prove that they haven't fallen back in terms of productivity because of being a mother. So what you have are women who are passionate, wanting to work hard and wanting to prove themselves -- all that adds up to a committed employee.
"Then giving them flexibility, days off when they need them, work-from-home options, caregiving facilities nearby and cut them a little slack is a small price to pay," Deepshikha Dharmaraj, CEO, Genesis BCW told IANSlife.
Hena Mehta, Founder and CEO of Basis, a domestic financial platform for women, finds there are "many things that need to be improved in the current work ecosystem to make it a level playing field for women".
She adds: "Something immediate that all companies can do to get talented women on their team is to listen to them. The focus should be on what a potential employee can bring to the table and not be limited by a past role."
She joined the company as a full-time employee after years of freelance, which she took up a couple of years into a career break, shares Sushma Naik, AVP Content, Basis.
"I work from home in a different city and travel to work as need be. The flexibility to do this is helpful to me on the home front and child care. Setting tasks, deadlines and having respect for getting the work done makes flexible working a possibility."
According to online surveys by JobsForHer, around 70 percent of women who quit never return to work at all. The challenges to restart are many -- outdated skills being a deterrent faced by 1 in 4 women.
"When asked how reskilling impacts career re-entry, 36 percent women said that it gave their careers a jumpstart, 26 percent mentioned that reskilling gave them the necessary confidence to attend interviews, 22 percent said it compensated their break, and 16 percent said it increased their market value," Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO, JobsForHer shared.
However, it's not gloom and doom.
Parul Ohri, Founding Member and Chief Editor at momspresso.com finds it encouraging to see "many companies moving beyond tokenism and recognizing that gender diversity is no longer a business imperative but rather an economic one - and this includes hiring women returning to work after maternity or childcare break".
She also suggests having onsite infrastructure solutions, including a clean, private place for breastfeeding moms as well as breaks throughout the day to pump.
There is also a need to find leaders committed to building equal cultures. A global report by Accenture identified a small percentage -- just 6 percent -- of leaders (called Culture Makers) who recognizes the importance of factors such as pay transparency, family leave and the freedom to be creative in helping employees thrive.