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July 25, 2008

There is a large group of untapped talent that corporate India is missing out on in the form of women who have given up their careers for personal reasons, the most common being to care for young children. However, if PepsiCo India has its way, the skills and knowledge of this demographic will be tapped and these women will be given the opportunity to jumpstart their careers.

PepsiCo, in a bid to re-introduce this pool of talent into the workforce, has launched an initiative whereby women who have exited the corporate world for personal reasons can train and update their skills and re-start their professional lives.

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Launched in association with websites and IndiWo, PepsiCo will post vacancies on both and will recruit from registered candidates and initiate them into the skill training programme. Nupur Bhargava, VP -- Staffing, PepsiCo India, in an e-mail interview with Shifra Menezes, shares the details of this initiative and how interested candidates can apply.  

What prompted the idea for this initiative?

In line with our focus on diversity and inclusion we have been hiring women across functions, across levels and locations. Though we did find great talent and have included it in our workforce, we realised that we were not being able to reach out to a large talent pool who was no longer active in the current workforce, had gone "off ramp" i.e. women who chose to step out of a full-time career for personal reasons.

Jobstreet and IndiWo was one such platform which we identified which could provide us access to that talent pool as they were already active on that site.

What kind of workshops will be organised to train these women? What skills have been targeted?

At this point it will be more to prepare them to return to work as well as transition to their new roles.

Over the last two years, PepsiCo India has increased the percentage of women on its payroll from 5 per cent to 20 per cent, which is quite a sizeable increase.

Have specific initiatives been undertaken to bring about and accommodate such an increase?

Yes, there has been a high focus on hiring women into the organisation. For all roles, the search partners have been mandated to source diversity profiles as a first step. Hiring teams ensure a fair representation of women candidates for the interviewing team in order to select the most suitable candidate for the role. This of course does not compromise on quality of hire. Supporting policies have been introduced enabling women to balance home and work front.

Are there some specific roles/ positions/ profiles that you are looking to fill through this initiative or is this across the board? 

The endeavour is to post roles across functions, levels and locations.

Is this only for PepsiCo hiring or for other companies as well?

We are spearheading this initiative and would like other companies to join the platform as this will enable a wider choice for candidates looking to get back into a professional career.

What targets has PepsiCo set for this initiative?

We have just started the initiative. It will be too soon to set a target. We want to watch the success of this over the next 3-4 months and then set up targets.

What has the response been so far?

Response has been really good though there has been limited diversity profiles. We have had a number of people responding however a lot of these do not fit into the roles advertised. Surprisingly, we have had a lot of men apply for these roles despite us stating that this is specifically for women candidates.

Are there any special programmes PepsiCo has put in place to accommodate women with special needs -- care for young children, etc?

We have introduced a number of policies supporting the need for "work-life balance" for all employees. We have a flexi working, sabbatical policy in place already. Under the sabbatical policy employees can take up to a maximum of 12 months time off to address any personal needs. This will be dependent on the employee's tenure in the company, their manager concurrence and the company's ability to find a temporary replacement.  

The other policy providing flexibility to all, especially women, is the one on flexi time policy which allows employees to work for reduced hours, work from a different location some days of the week or work in different hours but full hours (start early and end early) -- again this is dependent on functional deliveries as well as employee deliveries.

How do interested candidates take advantage of this initiative? How do they apply?

We post our vacancies on Jobstreet and IndiWo providing a full job description and the locations we would be hiring for. Interested applicants will apply to us through these job sites. We will then review profiles against current vacancies and evaluate the candidates as per the PepsiCo screening process.

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