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How Microsoft helps women who take career breaks

Last updated on: October 11, 2012 08:38 IST

How Microsoft helps women who take career breaks

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K Rajani Kanth in Hyderabad

Microsoft is contemplating taking Springboard, its new initiative to help women who decide to pursue their career interests after a career break make an easy transition back into the corporate world, globally.

Springboard, launched two weeks ago by Microsoft IT-India, the Indian offshore arm of Microsoft's IT engineering division, provides women, who have taken a career breaks, an opportunity to hone technical skills, besides offering attractive monthly compensation through the duration of the project and join as a full-time employee at the end of the programme.

"We will look at how it (Springboard) works in Hyderabad (Microsoft's biggest campus). If it works out well, I am sure we will do it at the India level and then roll it out globally," Meher Afroz, executive sponsor of the Springboard programme and a member of the IT leadership, MSIT, told Business Standard.

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Image: Microsoft campus in Hyderabad.
Photographs: Reuters.

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The programme offers women the flexibility to choose the type of project, the duration and even the work hours. Women with requisite professional, post-graduation or equivalent qualifications with at least four years' continuous work experience can apply.

"The MSIT programme for women is a great step towards bringing more women back into the corporate mainstream," said Sairee Chahal, co-founder of Fleximoms, a company that enables women to make most suitable work-life choices and connects them to the world of work.

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Image: Microsoft employees.
Photographs: Reuters.

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Added Rajiv Burman, human resource director, MSIT: "When we looked back at our Microsoft experience, what we found was that we tend to lose women after four-five years they join us. We were able to bring a lot of them from campuses, but start losing them. Then we went back and examined all exits and reasons why they are leaving."

In every case, he said, no one left Microsoft either because the environment wasn't good or they could not feel good. The challenge was either they were getting married, planning to focus on their family, their husband was relocating or they were having a child and now wanted to spend the first few years at home, he said.

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Image: Microsoft campus, Hyderabad.
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft.

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"Those were the main reasons that we consistently came across in the last four years of data of all women who left Microsoft. We are focusing a lot on making Microsoft a welcome place. The research which we did told us we need to come up with something different that could bring back those women who had taken a career break," Burman said.

Staying away from disclosing any numbers, he said the number of women employees in Microsoft had grown well over 40 per cent in the last three years, and the number of women who left was almost the same as the number of men who left the company.

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Image: Microsoft campus, Hyderabad.
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft.

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Under the Springboard initiative, women who seek to get their career back on track will join Microsoft-IT at Hyderabad for six months as interns. They will work for a maximum of 20 hours, which will be structured very flexibly around their schedule.

Once they have completed that successfully, and depending upon their interest and how they have performed, they will have the option of getting absorbed as full-time employees.

"We just launched Springboard and we are in our first roll-out of the programme. We expect to bring in the first batch as of November 1, 2012," Burman said.



Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft.

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