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"I'm ecstatic that someone is finally recognising the talent of women who left their jobs due to family reasons," says Anusha Bhatia*, a 30-year-old Hyderabad-based marketing graduate who left her job seven years ago to raise a family. She is one among thousands of Indian women, maybe more, who ended a flourishing career to have a child. If this sounds archaic and primitive, please be informed that for every career-driven woman who juggles home, kids and a career with dexterity, there are many more who have quietly walked away from promising professions.
Having a child is the number one reason for stopping work. Husbands with transferable jobs comes a close second, followed by several other circumstances. Rachna Mehta*, an HR professional in Cochin says, "When I married my husband, a naval officer, he was posted in a large town so landing myself a job wasn't difficult. For the first few relocations after that, securing a new job became tough, but not impossible. Everytime I moved cities, I had to leave a place where I was doing well and a position that was rewarding. The new job wasn't always at the same level and often I had to accept an opening lower than I deserved. It was frustrating, but I managed. After five moves, I decided to stop working as I couldn't handle it anymore. I was building competency in a company only to move away to another city and a new job where I had to start from scratch. So I decided to stop working and save myself the frustration and angst that went along with the entire process."
Rachna's is not an isolated case -- there are many like her. However, when these women decide to re-start their careers after a gap of eight to ten years, takers are few and far between. Rachna says, "After my kids passed out of Class X, I told my husband and my sons that I had sacrificed my career to make a happy home. Now that they had grown up, I wanted to give my career a second try. While my family was very supportive, the industry outside wasn't. I had been out of the race for too long. Companies were just not interested in even getting into a conversation with me."
This is a common dilemma that women who have left their jobs face when they wish to start working again. Companies feel that they have been out of touch with the corporate world for too long and won't be able to catch up.
Says Rajesh Dahiya, Vice President of Group Sourcing & TAS, Group HR, Tata Services Ltd, "This is exactly where the Tata Second Careers Internship Programme (SCIP) intends to step in and help women. There is a tremendous opportunity in reaching out to talented, qualified and experienced women who may have had to leave their jobs due to various personal/ family reasons. They are qualified and trained with valuable experience behind them. They can add value to us and other companies. We are trying to benefit from their contribution and also striving to provide an environment that is condusive for them to work in."
The course includes:
~ Completion of a five-day programme at the Tata Management Centre, Pune
~ 500 hours of internship spread out over five to six months
~ Attractive project fees up to Rs 5 lakh
~ Flexible timings
~ Live business projects to work on
The SCIP not only gives the women an opportunity to start afresh, but to re-train themselves and catch up with the current trends. They are also provided with the valuable opportunity of working on live cases, which will not only enhance their portfolios, but will also boost their confidence levels.
Confidence and belief in yourself in critical. Anuradha Sinha*, an MBA who worked for a hotel in Delhi before giving up her career to have a baby says, "It has been 10 years since I have seen the inside of an office. Though I feel a strong urge to give my career another shot, I often feel hesitant about working alongside the current crop of youngsters, who are so smart and efficient at what they do. I lack confidence." On learning about the SCIP, Anuradha was excited -- "This is a great opportunity. Not only will this programme give women like me valuable experience, but will also boost our confidence levels to face the corporate world." Currently residing in Bangalore, she is waiting for Tata to take this programme to more cities in India.
Most women have a similar reaction to this endeavour. Rachna says, "Women like me would be valuable to any company, provided they give us an opportunity to prove our merit. We have taken a break from our careers but that doesn't mean we can't perform well professionally. I'm glad that a company like Tata recognises the huge potential that is waiting to be tapped."
Anuradha goes a step ahead when she says, "If a company is sensitive enough to understand the reason behind why women like me took a break and gives us an opportunity to prove ourselves, we would not only make a valuable contribution but would also be faithful to the organisation for believing in us. We wouldn't go sniffing out new jobs every now and then. Give a woman a meaty job, a good working environment and an understanding boss and you've got a faithful employee for life."
The SCIP is great news for women and their careers in India. If a corporate giant like Tata can consider giving women a second chance, other companies surely aren't far behind!
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
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