IIM A PGPX Diaries: Term I completed |1st Milestone reached

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June 6, 2017. 4.00 PM. I have couple of hours before I start my journey back home after end of Term 1 of PGPX – 1 Year MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. Program started on 13th April and it has been 8 weeks of roller-coaster ride. PGPX is a very intense and rigorous program. with an ongoing medley of classes, assignments, quizzes, cases and pre reads on any day. In term 1 we completed core courses in Accounting, Operations Design, Decision making, microeconomics, Marketing and Organization Behavior. Obvious learning is the direct knowledge and skills we gain from these courses taught by the best professors in the country but I am going to focus on the not so obvious learnings and experience of staying away from family.

New | Fresh | Different Perspectives

When you have worked in one function and one Industry, the perspective gets set in context of your function and Industry. The first step of learning here is to unfreeze the current perspective and then start looking at the problem, case and the world itself with new perspectives. Our batch is as diverse as you can get – doctors, lawyer, Ex Navy, CA, PSU and private sector professionals, with each one bringing a new perspective. Learning to look at the work and life with new perspectives and appreciating those different perspectives is one of top take away from this course.

Prioritization | Time management | Speed | Efficiency

Term 1 made us practice a very important tenet of productivity which is the ability to prioritize and manage our time more optimally. The fast pace and every day rigor of program teaches you an important lesson in prioritization of tasks and efficient time management, without which it wont be possible to complete the tasks at hand. Without prioritization of activities and proper time management, there is no way you can get through a day in PGPX.  Limited time and multiple heavy-duty cases in a day not only requires time management but also speed and efficiency in execution. I could see speed improving over the term. First few cases took much more time than the later ones.

Now how the mother in me got through the self-imposed exile and how did the kids manage.

Kids manage it better than adults. Kids are very resilient and out of sight, out of mind concept is pretty strong with kids as they live in present and haven’t learned to think and then miss what they do not see. It was very hard in the beginning for both sides but then we got used to the new normal. Also with grandparents at home and support system of helps, their school, routine and usual life at home was not interrupted. You must have good alternate support system set at home to continue life as usual in your absence. We settled into our new routines and weekdays passed by smoothly for me as well as kids.

Trouble was with weekends. Weekends are relatively challenging because that is when you spent maximum time at home with family. Everybody is at home on weekends and you are used to doing things together. Weekends were tough for me as invariably I would miss home and kids more. One more reason was that weekends was when we were talking more and video chatting more and when you see each other, you miss them more. Video chatting is a double-edged sword, you want to see your family but when you see them you miss being with them.

Get a routine for communication set. Figure out what works best for you and set a routine for talking and video chatting everyday. I would talk briefly to my children when they are leaving for school in the morning and when they are back from school and then at night before they went to sleep. Nothing could replace the physical presence but at-least  predictable times set for talking brought some stability and security that I am just a call away and they could share experiences at school and home with me on a real-time basis. I would also keep a tab on if everything at home was being run as it should.

How did you manage home, kids and work together? This was the questions asked by my husband after first few weeks of him taking up my role at home. There are few things in life which you are able to appreciate fully when you experience it yourself. It was one of them. For him, it was first time real-time experience of how challenging and stressful at times it is for working mothers to continuously juggle between responsibilities of home, children and work with all being equally important.

My biggest achievement of Term 1 would be that I managed to do something I couldn’t imagine doing ever – staying away from my children. I hadn’t stayed even a single day away from my kids since they were born and it has been 50 days since I last saw them. I really had doubts If I would be able to do this but I managed to do it and it has powered my determination and self belief so much that now I feel like I can take on any challenge. This was the toughest challenge I had ever taken in my life as I take my role as a mother very seriously. What possibly could be harder for a mother than to voluntarily stay away from her children.

I have been eagerly waiting for this day to come. In my mind, I have run multiple times the moment when I would see my children and hug them. Umpteen times I have felt the joy of anticipation of seeing innocent faces of my children and finally be able to hug them(something you can not do in video chat). As I sign off on this blog, my taxi is here to get me started on my long awaited trip to home and to my kids.  See you in Term 2.

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How to restart your career after long career break ?

back-to-work-copyOne of the common advice I am asked as a mentor  is ” How do I resume working full-time after a long career break”?  I think in today’s fast changing times, the need to keep reinventing your skill-sets to stay employable is very relevant and important. This is applicable even more to working women who take a break from working full time. While it might not be possible to plan the duration of break always but if you can have a tentative timeline for your break and a comeback plan as well, going back to work would be easier. If you plan to resume working full time, you must keep working to build your profile even when you are technically on break or not working full time. There are two parts of restarting career post break.

PART 1 – Things to do while you are on break

Assess if you can work part-time or for few hours while you are on break

This is the best way to maintain continuity in your career and at the same time also take care of responsibilities at home. Many companies offer part-time working option for a limited duration. Explore these in your current workplace and while you are making you r break plan make a comeback plan as well. Even if you do not pursue a formal part time working, you can always look for freelancing projects or project based work which allows you to keep in touch with your industry, job function or specialization. Check platforms such as one offered by TATA group tatasecondcareer

Keep working on keeping your skill sets relevant

Irrespective of whether you are taking a break or not, you must work on reinventing and refreshing your professional persona periodically. You need to keep infusing fresh blood and thoughts into your professional persona. World is dynamic and the pace of changes whether on political or technological fronts is increasing day by day. You need to keep refreshing your skill-sets and perspectives. There are so many online education mediums available(for example coursera) to keep learning and adding skill-sets.

Keep up to date on Industry trends and how the wind is blowing

Read about latest news, trends and developments in your Industry/function. Attend seminars and workshops if available. You need to allocate time and do this systematically. The rate at which technology and business disruptions are happening currently and making technology skillsets and employees obsolete, one needs to be in tune with the changes and adapt to the them to remain employable.

Keep networking 

Lateral job fulfillment happens mostly through referrals and your former colleagues and larger network plays a big role in this. Networking is an art and this can not be done in one day. Network relationships need to be nurtured over a period to be used when you need them. Even though you are on break, keep in touch with your network in companies where you worked before. Attend college reunions or any meeting where you might be able to network.

PART 2 – Things to consider when you are ready to make a comeback

Be flexible in your job search

When you are looking at restarting your career, you need to be flexible. A long break in career is not seen favorably by recruiters and you would face the hurdle of rejections initially. You need to understand the job market, its requirements and act accordingly. You can utilize service of professional recruiters and resume writers to help you in your job search. You can also target the companies or platforms (such as sheroes) which focus on helping women restart career post long break.

Consider the option of higher studies – PG/MBA/PHD 

Good way to gain knowledge, credentials and add value to your profile is to go for higher studies from a reputed institute and re-enter the workforce from there. This route may also be specially useful if one wants to switch career tracks. There are many 1 year MBA programs for experienced professionals  in India. (such as PGPX by IIMA)

Remember, no comebacks are easy and you might face difficulties in the beginning but it is important to have a solid resolve and not give up.Whatever path you may take to restart the career, it is possible to do, provided you are ready to persevere, you are confident in your abilities and ready to make adjustments.

Here are few online platforms and companies which run focused programs in helping women  restart their careers. All the best!

Platforms  : Sheroes,  Women restart , Jobs for Her

Companies : TATA group –  Tatasecondcareer,  GE – Restart program , IBM – Bring her back  GENPACT – Career 2.0,  HUL – Career by choice,  Intel – Home to Office, SAP – Stay in touch, Axis Bank – Reconnect, Philips – Back in Game(B.I.G),  AV Birla Retail – ENCORE, Capgemini – Career Comeback, Intuit – Intuit again, Goldmansachs- Returnship,  L&T – Renew, Target – Back on Target

How to make successful career transitions ? PART II

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This is PART II of two blog series on career transition. You can read about why people want to change career tracks in PART I of this series. You have one life and if you are not happy in your current role or have clear preference or another career, it is worth to try for a career switch.

” In the end we only regret the chances we did not take” – Lewis Carroll

Here are some “dos” as when you are have decided to change your career and are preparing and planning to make the transition.

Research . Get to hear from people in your desired shoes.

Talk to people in your target profile. Learn about their experiences in their career. Ask specifically about challenges they have faced and what they don’t like in their job or what they would like to change. Research current profiles and their core competencies in your target roles on LinkedIn.

Try to gain a first hand experience of your target function

If it is consulting that your heart is after, try to do one project or at least be part of it if not in active role. There is nothing like experiencing it yourself and you must try for it if possible. Most likely the first brush with the job should have generated your interest towards it but if you are planning to switch job functions based on popular perceptions about it, please make sure to test the waters first.

Look for lateral transitions in your current company

This is the safest route. For example if somebody want to move from profit & Loss core function to a support function such as marketing or Human Resources, it would be good to try to do that within your existing organization, if possible.  The risk is low and you won’t be new to everything. Industry and company remains same. Your existing network and past performance can also help you in transitioning to new role.

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Make the transition multi step , one at a time

Any job would have at least 3 components.  Try to change one thing at a time. Carry forward some common skill sets and experience which would be relevant to new role.

  1. Your Job function – Revenue generating or Non revenue generating support function. Example Marketing department.
  2. Your core competency/capability or specialization. Example in Marketing , your specialization could be digital marketing.
  3. Your Industry – The industry your company belongs to. Example IT industry.

Here if you try to change all 3 parts in one go, transition could be difficult. Plan for a multi layered transition where you can carry forward your past work experiences.

Higher education – Post graduate Programs , MBA, MS or Doctoral programs

Professional Education is one way of bridging knowledge gaps, acquiring new networks and credentials which are helpful in opening the doors. Now there are 1 Year MBA programs designed for experienced professionals. In India , PGPX from IIM A is known for helping experienced professional in switching careers. If you want to switch to teaching a doctoral program equips you for that. Professional certifications are also helpful in bridging the knowledge gaps.

Some tips on how to make career transition successful once you are in  your desired role:

” We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Carlos Castenada

  1. Don’t give up too soon. All changes are tough in the beginning. 

mm_dontgiveupInitial months in new role are going to be hard. You would need to work harder to learn ropes of your new role and establish yourself in the organization. First 6 months, be prepared to toil and give your 200 %. The first project or assignment would teach you more than any of many more your would do.  Treat the first opportunity as a test to prove and establish yourself in the new role. Aim to not only meet expectations but exceed them. Trick is to do more than expected and pleasantly surprise your stakeholders. Believe me, the extra hard work put in during initial crucial period would give you rewards in long-term. Perseverance is the key.

2. Adapt to new role, culture and people.

Don’t just focus on getting the work done. Every Industry or company has unique characteristics and a unique culture. You need to not only adapt yourself to the new role  & its responsibilities but also to the new organization and its way of life. You need to assimilate into the new company/Industry’s culture and become one with its people, processes and the way things work. Work relationships, networking and managing stakeholders expectations are critical to success in any role and you should start working on these from day 1. You get only one chance to make the right first impression. Don’t lose that chance.

3. Reflect. Realize . Reverse the decision

Not all changes are successful. If possible, keep the lines open in your last company, Industry and networks. However things might appear from outside, there is nothing like first hand experience. Give yourself at least 6 months in the new role. Keep reflecting on your experiences and evaluating if your expectations are met. If you realize, this is not what you wanted and want to go back to what you were doing, do not waste further time and try to reverse the switch as soon as possible. Be careful to realistically evaluate if the problem is not in job profile but in your ability to settle down in any role and looking for change all the time. If it is latter, you need to work on it and fix it before attempting any more switch.

Successful career transitions are all about first seeking the change and then embracing it with all your heart and might. With lot of introspection, effort and bit luck, if you are able to successfully transition to a new career, the decision to change could transform your life. Afterall, nothing is worth it, if you are not happy.

How to make successful career transitions ? PART I

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” The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” J.P Morgan

About one-third or 30% of human life is spent working to earn livelihood. It is important to spend one third of our lives doing something which makes us happy and content other besides providing the livelihood. Many a time, we do not choose our career, we happen to get there by chance or without design. It takes some years of understanding of our job, life  and ourselves to realize that we might need to change our career track as what we are doing does not meet our life and career goals.In 2 blog post of this series, I would be discussing the process before you actually make the career change in Blog I and how to go about making the career transition in Blog II of the series.

First things first  “there are no perfect choices, only other choices”.

If you are contemplating a career change to run away from a temporary bad situation in your current job or Industry – tough project, a tough boss, tough policies. Please remember that there are no perfect choices, only other choices and if issue lies with you settling in any job, any change would not solve the problem and you would find yourself in similar situation very soon. Make sure that the intent to change career track is for right reasons and not an escape route.

Get a one line answer to ” Why you want to change your career” ?

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There might be many valid reasons for you going for a career change. Example – being laid off, Role being phased out, Changing life stages such as motherhood. It could be simply you wanting a new, better, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. Whatever may be reasons behind seeking the change, know at high level what you expect to gain from the change. Your measurement of how successful your career transition was would be based on what you expected to gain from it.Your goal or objective from change could be for example:

  • Finding more purpose and meaning in your life
  • Setting out in a different direction in your life
  • Getting out of corporate rat race
  • Finding your mission in life, at last
  • Aligning your skill sets and interests with your job
  • Deciding to try something new
  • Get more work life balance

Know thyself well. The road to your dream career is a road that first passes through you.

Most career change seekers who fail, do not fail because they do not know about job market or how to make the transition, they fail because they did not know themselves in and out. Who can know you better than you? You need to reflect upon your life and job experiences and do a thorough inventory of your skill sets, emotions, interests and preferences. This is the most important part of your career transition plan.

Inventory of your favorite skills and fields.

Time for introspection, reflection on experiences and getting inside your heart and mind to know what ticks you, upsets you or motivates you in work and life. Put the following inventory on paper if you prefer to work in systematic way:

  • What are the skills you most enjoy using?

List down your favorite transferable(functional) skills. Prioritize them in order of importance and enjoyment for you. Key functional skills categories are people skills, data skills & operation skills. Physical skills, Mental skills, Interpersonal skills.

  • Where do you want to use your favorite skills?

List down your favorite interests, subjects, fields, Industries or fields that fascinate you. Fields that use your favorite skills. Skills inventory and fields chosen have to go hand in hand  for compatibility and future success.

It is ok to keep work and passion separate

It is said that find a work you love to do and you don’t have to work for a day. Undeniably it would be a perfect life but at the same time it is also okay if your work is not necessarily your passion.There is a reason why work is called work and hobbies are called hobbies. It is alright if two are separate. When a painter starts selling his art, he is no longer an artist but becomes a salesman. Please remember that most of the time primary objective of career or work is to take care of your basic needs and give you a quality of life and opportunities to enjoy  life beyond work.

Read about how to make the career transition in my next post PART II of this blog series.

The road to gender equality in workplace passes through home.

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Quite a few panel of experts and task forces have been set up to strategize on how to increase women representation in workplaces. What does not get due attention is the glaring gender inequality when it comes to sharing household chores at home. Women are not only struggling with the gender gap at work but also with chores gap at home. Traditionally home and children responsibilities rested with a woman and that was fair when women stayed home full time to look after home and children. Even as women are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the workforce, women still do most of the household chores and childcare leading to working two shifts – one in office and second at home.

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Social structures, Attitudes and extreme Gender stereotypes .

Gender inequalities in all areas are rooted in social structures but also in attitudes,” As per Professor Gillian Robinson, of the University of Ulster. For centuries women have been seen as care taker of home and children. It is very hard for larger part of society to break that stereotype mould and see a woman as a person with her own career dreams and ambitions. The problem is acute in socially conservative countries such as India where a man spends only 19 minutes per day on household work . In India, if a husband helps with household chores and with child care, the mother-in-law does not appreciate it because she thinks it is a woman’s responsibility. Though the new generation is changing and supporting women pursuing their careers, the older generation is sticking to the stereotypical expectations from daughter in law to take care of home and children irrespective of working full time in a job.

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Few ways in which chores gap could be closed:

Be assertive. Set the ground rules on sharing household responsibilities in the beginning itself.

Whether it is arranged marriage or love, you keep the views on sharing household work as fundamental principle on which both must agree. If any man is just and fair, he should have no reasons to not agree to share the workload at home if both the partners are working full-time. Unless you ask for it, why would anyone let go of the privilege a man has been awarded to sit and be served hot meals on the table. It is a check at ideological level and compatibility on this shared value is key to continuing your career in future stages of life with increasing load of additional responsibilities. On a lighter note, if it works as any incentive to a man – it is said  that no woman argues with a man doing household chores.

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This data is for US households. For Indian households, time spent by men on household activities is just 19 minutes per day.

Outsourcing household work to third-parties.

If at all, you are in a situation where due to any reason, your husband can not share the workload at home, next best option is to outsource the work to a third-party, if you can afford it. It is still better than doing the unequal share of work at home. Though parenting and overseeing household management can not be outsourced and would need to be shared.

Social Messaging has to get right.

Only women are shown doing household chores such as laundry or cleaning dishes. You take any advertisement of any product used in household chores, you would invariably see a woman doing it. The correct and fair messaging showing men also doing house chores can play a positive role in closing chores gap at home. Lately there have been some advertisements(Ariel #ShareTheLoad, a very good one) showing how unfair it is for working women to do all the work at home in addition to their office work. Even if it doesn’t change anything immediately, such constant messaging through popular communication channels would increase the awareness and possibly wake up the conscious of men, leading to a favourable change in attitude towards sharing chores load at home

 Raise children teaching the value of equal allocation of work at home

Sons are being raised as they have no responsibilities at home and daughters are being raised as it is going to their duty to take care of everything at home. Real change will come when children would see both the parents doing household chores. A new study this year showed that daughters are more likely to envision working outside of the home if their dad did household chores.When young boys and girls would see their dad also cooking, doing laundry and dishes, they would automatically internalize that this is how household work should be managed between a husband and a wife. Children always believe what they see rather than what you tell them. Creating an equal and fair environment at home will go long way in raising children with right values and a society which is just and fair to all.

Closing gender gap at home is key to closing gender gap in workplaces

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In a fair and just world, house responsibilities should be equally shared between man and woman, if both are working full time. But it is not the reality, men are yet not volunteering to share the workload at home though it is changing slowly. Many a time, a woman has to leave her job and exit the workforce to take care of home/children full-time because she is not able to manage both. The path to gender equality  in workplaces passes through the gender equality at home. Till we don’t close the gender gap in managing household responsibilities, working women would be overburdened with responsibilities of work and home. Women would be forced to make compromises on career, aborting their ambitions and letting go of opportunities to fully realize their potentials. We are not going to see more women in corner offices and boardrooms until we see men more in kitchen and laundry rooms.

How Technology Disruptions are Empowering Women

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Technology disruptions are transforming how we live our lives. Even if we may realize or not, we are benefiting from the breakthroughs in technology. As a woman, I feel blessed to be witnessing the technology disruptions and experience it in our daily life. In the last decade or so, there have been many groundbreaking business disruptions enabled by technology such as smartphones, high-speed internet, taxi apps, social media apps and so on. These innovations have not only transformed lives of billions of people across the world but also empowered women by making their lives easier, safer and more productive.

Here are key technology led business disruptors empowering women specially working women and are contributing indirectly in closing gender gap in workplace and society.

1. Taxi hailing apps. [Uber, Ola] Increase mobility. Affordable and safe travel.

2. Digital wallets.[Paytm, Freecharge]  Money at your fingertips rather than wallet

3. Online Retail. [Big Basket, Myntra]Freed time from shopping. Better work life balance

4. Social Media apps.[Facebook, LinkedIn] More business and networking opportunities

5. Freelancing apps. [ Upwork ]. Flexible work time and work type opportunities.

6. Free Blogspace [ WordPress]. Blogging revolution – food, fashion, you name it blogs

7. Messenger apps [Whatsapp] . New ways of selling. New business opportunities

8. Food  ordering apps[ Fresh Menu] : Less time in kitchen, more time for yourself.

9. Wearable tech [Fitbit]. Helps in staying fit and watching your diet.

10. Location tracking and safety apps[Staysafe]. : Track location and SOS calling.

11. Home and Local services apps [Urbanclap, Housejoy]. Order online, get serviced at home

Here is how these technology and business disruptions have empowered women:

1. Making day-to-day travel easier, safer and affordable

Before Uber and Ola, Autos and public transport buses were the only refuge of women for day-to-day travel. Public transportations do not give you flexibility of traveling at your choice of time. Autos are not safe and reliable. Hailing taxi through an app on your smartphone is relatively safer(not completely though), highly flexible and affordable. Taxi apps have made women more independent and in control of their day-to-day travel plans.

2. Improved work life balance for working women

It is a reality that working women are managing 2 full-time jobs, one at home and another at office. While there is little scope for maneuver to free time at office, one can work to save time spent in managing daily household chores. The boom of internet companies offering products or services delivered to your home have empowered women by helping them save time spent in managing household responsibilities. Online ordering and home delivery of key recurring purchases save time spent in physically visiting stores and shopping. This extra time gained can be spent with husband, children and on themselves. .

3. Improved safety and ability to get help in case of emergency

All smartphones are equipped with GPS and there are many safety apps which tracks your location and enables you to make SOS call in an emergency. Similarly school buses have GPS installed and you can track location of buses in which your children are traveling.

4. Flexibility in work and choice of new career opportunities

Women need flexibility of work hours, location and type of work during different stages of life. New economy jobs has empowered such women. There are many more options of part-time work through freelancing job marketplaces such as Upwork which enable women to work online and choose place, time and hours of work which suits their needs. Women are also able to choose and pursue new careers such as blogging through free blogspace providers such as wordPress. New channels of sales and marketing such ass Facebook, Instagram and whatsapp have empowered women running small businesses.

Some desired futuristic innovation and Tech disruptions which would really empower women and make their lives better.

1. Artificial Intelligence based products in following roles:

  • Virtual assistant : Assist us in running our daily lives. Take care of reading emails, sets reminders, reminds us for urgent tasks, tracks school buses , makes to do list and so on.( a la advanced version of Siri)
  • A virtual friend, philosopher and guide : Somebody who can keep us company all the time, somebody we can talk to and share our feelings( a la movie ” Her”). Built in intelligence to advice on important matters and help us in making key and trivial decisions. (a la IBM’s Watson)

2.  Advanced robots as house helps : Helps in cleaning, cooking, even babysitting.

3. Automated kitchens: Women really need some path breaking appliances which are affordable and reduce significantly the time spent in kitchen.  Indian cooking is really time intensive and women  desperately need next generation intelligent appliances. Wishlist – Roti maker, Dosa maker, currymaker.

4. Driverless cars : It is around the corner but hopefully is available soon in developing world too. Many women don’t know how to drive and not being in driving seat also give you extra time which can be utilised to get work done. Driverless cars might also be safer than traveling in taxis with drivers who are strangers to you.

Technology is touching and altering everybody’s life-like never before and I am a big fan and an early adopter of technology led products/services. I truly hope technology continues to keep disrupting the social order and keep empowering women and helping them in closing the gender gap.

Why amendment to maternity benefits act is historic and a potential game changer

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Working women in organised sector have been struggling with inadequate provisions in Maternity Benefits Act 1961 and an amendment was long due. Maternity amendment bill seeks to address most of the issues though not all. Proposed amendment would significantly improve the working condition for 1.8 million working women in organised sector in India.  Before getting into how this is going to benefit  all stakeholders involved such as working women, children, companies and economy of the country, lets briefly understand what key features of this amendment are:

  1. Duration of maternity leave: The Bill increases maternity benefit of paid leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  2. Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: The Bill introduces a provision to grant 12 weeks of maternity leave to: (i) a woman who legally adopts a child below three months of age; and (ii) a commissioning mother.
  3. Option to work from home: The Bill introduces a provision that states that an employer may permit a woman to work from home.
  4. Crèche facilities: The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance.  The woman will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day.
  5. Informing women employees of the right to maternity leave: The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.

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All of the changes above are actually solutions to the major pain points working women face in our country. Woman ‘s dual roles of a primary care provider/nurturer to the child and a responsible professional at work should not be at conflict with each other.Lack of support from govt legislation and HR policies at the workplace has been pushing working women towards a situation where  she is forced to choose between her career and child. With new responsibilities of child, a working mother desperately tries to make it work and continue working but when faced with inadequate support from available laws, company policies and child care arrangement, there is no option left but to quit her job. Amendment at least fixes part of the problem and is a great start in addressing the key pain points. Amendment itself should contribute to a significant reduction in number of women dropping out of workforce due to child care responsibilities. In addition to obvious direct benefits to working women, amendment could lead to following macro level benefits to other important stakeholder such as economy and companies in organised sector:

  1. Arresting the “leaking pipeline” of working women. Leaking pipeline is a phrase used to represent loss of women employees in organised sector.Between the age of 25 to 30, one-third of women move out of the work force and 30 percent of these never return
  2. Increase in GDP due to increased women participation in workplace.A study by Booz and Company estimates that if men and women in India were to be equally employed, its GDP could go up by 27 percent.
  3. Greater representation of women in C-suites and boardrooms. One of the key reasons for low representation of women in senior management levels is women dropping out at middle management levels. Out of the professionals joining at the entry-level, 29 percent are women, this number dwindles to 9 percent at mid to senior management and is less than 1 percent at CEO level (source: McKinsey data base)

key beneficiaries of this amendment are:

Working women

Women are forced by unfavorable work conditions and lack of support at workplace and home to  quit their jobs and exit the workforce bringing down their household income and aborting their career aspirations and dreams. This amendment solves some key pain points with solutions such as adequate paid maternity leave, work from home option and crèche facility. Amendment increases the odds for women to not drop out and continue their career, therefore  an increased possibility of realizing their full potential and reaching the corner offices and boardrooms.

Children

The biggest beneficiary of this amendment would be children. When it is prescribed for newborns to be exclusively on mother’s milk up till 6 months of age, how can maternity leave be less than this duration? A leave of 3 months was forcing many mothers to wean their new-born babies jeopardising a child’s development and long-term health. 26 weeks of paid maternity leave would ensure that a new born’s basic right of nurture by a mother is not denied. This would play a big role in addressing issues of malnutrition and infant mortality in our country.

Companies in organised sector

Gender diversity is important metric for all leading companies and higher educational institutions. Only legislation is not enough to increase the women representation at senior levels of management, companies  need to be more committed in improving gender diversity through implementing and measuring pro women policies and initiatives such as flexibility of work hours, function and role change options, part-time work, sabbatical, work from home and fair appraisal processes etc. Companies need to sensitize the male employees on special needs and child responsibilities of women in order to create an empathetic and sensitive work environment. Companies also need to ensure that women are not indirectly penalised or denied growth opportunities for availing the flexible work options.

All and all, the amendment is a good start and closes many existing gaps in Maternity benefits act and is one of the best news in recent times for working women and their careers.

Reference:the-maternity-benefit-amendment-bill-2016-4370/