Career break, a passe: time to reinvent, reinvigorate!

A decade or two ago, the probability of women considering their career as just an option was significant. Those were the days when the ‘salary’ and ‘responsibility’ components topped the list. Fascinatingly, an ‘interesting job’ and having a ‘great career’ and ‘work-life balance’ were not really on the radar then.

However, even with evolution in the concept of women in career, women in leadership, they have not been independent of many factors that may affect their professional lives. Their career depends on many variables- Marriage, having a child, responsibility for dependents, migration, further studies are a few of them. These reasons also lead to women taking a break from their professional lives.

Just like there is an option for women to take up courses from open universities, where the year in which they have completed graduation, doesn’t matter; corporate organizations must make an attempt to identify and hire potential women professionals who have taken a break due to various personal reasons.

Having been in an organisation which runs a program for women who have taken a break from their professional lives (Returning falcons), and an organisation which not only employs but encourages and grows women professionals, I have personally witnessed what women professionals go through. In fact, the psyche of these women itself is something that one must look up to. The sense of wanting to exceed expectations, a drive to rapidly move up the ladder, wanting to grab the most of their career is higher in women who have returned after a gap.

With the focus on career making its way into these women’s life, it has also changed their expectations. Women look out for opportunities where they can grow, where they feel their presence is vital and is valued. The very nature of questions like this underscores the thought that being a woman with a background like this is a liability to the organization.

Today, corporates are trying hard not to lose out such professionals. Flexibility is the key solution. With options such as working from home, flexible timings and cab facilities, the typical problems women face in opposition to their male counterparts is significantly blurred, this giving women a fair advantage. But, are these enough? How can organisations help in growing women professionals towards achieving their goals? How can organisations make it a win-win situation?

Having said that, organisations must contemplate on what they must do to identify, attract and employ such dedicated individuals.

Keeping in mind the requirements of women returners, the HR department in the organisations need to have their policies and goals modified to highlight the space in which women can perform their best. Creating a naturally collaborative environment, designing training sessions that are highly modified to the requirements of these individuals may be few answers. Questions pertaining to how a mother cum professional will cope up with the work environment, would they have still retained their skills, confidence, and ability to take work pressure, what to expect from them need to be answered before they are brought on board.

We have witnessed importance of a woman’s career changing drastically over the past few years. The corporate space as a gender equalizer is reason enough for the women workforce to put in that extra something and do their jobs better. While stereotypical gender role play still exists, there is a steady equalization gradually taking hold at a base level. This is a great place to be, to observe the changing dynamics between genders in a work environment.

On women’s day, we take time out to introspect and comment on the changing equations in the corporate arena. Are you an organisation which employs women with career break? Are you an individual who has gone through that phase? Make your opinions heard and share your experiences with us.

-Amrita Rao