The SHEROES Contributor

Rakshita Dwivedi

Rakshita Dwivedi is a HR professional with experiences with MNC’s and Start-ups. Currently she is a Product Manager @plugHR where the Workflex role helps her spend good time with her preschooler. Mathematics has always made data analytics one of her favourites which later shaped in the form of interest for technology and social media applications. She has always believed that HR is about stepping in employer’s shoes while still being an employee and indeed such challenging task is worthy of all the efforts put in to strike the right balance. Writing is her passion which helps her connect with a wider audience and makes her writer for IndiaHRlive too. She can be reached on twitter @raks_d or [email protected]

She is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mother but do you know she is a colleague too!!

Isn’t that interesting that even after so many years when women have been found competent enough to travel to and fro in space, still today we are fighting for workplace freedom. A freedom which our male counterparts enjoy in a much liberal manner. Freedom to work and carve a career we dreamt as a kid of five. Freedom to choose and leave. Freedom to accept and reject.

Wondering who is to be blamed??

Let’s not once again victimize so called fairer sex and start blaming the male dominant society for the same. Culprit might be the environment, in which either you die or survive. Aren’t we taught that way? To think about family first. Women still not considered the primary earner infact ironically some say they are blessed to choose ‘not to work’. And we are sadly ‘Happy’ about it. I was shocked to read an article which stated that India has only 25% of total women population in workforce. If I look back at my girl batch-mates from school almost everyone had a dream but not everyone could make it there. Some chose different paths while others gave up to the responsibilities.

Here is a story of ‘She’

‘She’ was born with equal rights ,‘she’ performed brilliantly at B School but the campus job required a male candidate and she in spite for all those required skills accepts a job which as per the college/company standards is best suited for her. Her family also supported this. And on top of this in due course of years ‘she’ started believing that she made a right choice. Really??

And we are still talking about the better part. If you ask me, women generally go through different phases of life and with each phase ‘changes’ accompany her.

Money, Marriage and Motherhood.

The 3 M’s which define the phases of life course of working women. With first ‘M’   (Money = Career) ‘she’ enters the workplace with an enthusiasm to touch the stars. Best time to be called a ‘career oriented’ woman. Not only is ‘she’ free (at least that’s what she thinks) to take up a career or location of work where ‘she’ puts all her passion and focus carving a respectable place for her. Her grades are high and all that hard work finally brings her the most wanted laurels too. She is ready to experiment and leave no stone unturned to make many feel envy of her success. Her works becomes her world and any employer couldn’t have asked for more. And here they have the “Employee of the Year’.

With all the happiness around ‘she’ gladly enters the next phase of ‘Marriage’.

Marriage brings additional responsibilities along with certain limitation and reservation in many cases. Along with this comes back to back ‘settling down leaves’ at work and in some cases even relocation. Marriage definitely for all means is a beautiful institution and by far like any Indian women ‘she’ has been trying to live up to the expectation of a new family and old job. However workplace demands only increase with time and for them ‘she’ (a married woman now) is no different than her male counterparts. So now when ‘she’,  who had spent weekends at office, suddenly starts maintaining a five days schedule leading to questioning of her performance. Although the real performance was supposed to be judged as per five days only but now it’s about the raised expectations here. At least if a male counterpart shows no dip in the performance then why should ‘she’? Right they were born equal and all!!

But sadly the real life scenario is just the opposite. Infact, the changes are very well known and possibly that’s the reason why recruiters enquire about husband’s job stability and about your family planning. Will they ask all this to a male candidate? Well we are in business to make profits and so it’s all right not to hire someone whose probation is part of maternity leave.

As ‘she’ struggles to get back to her workplace expectations managing both fronts to the best of her ability what follows is next phase of Motherhood, which opens multiple dimension in a women’s life and is definitely a point of drop out. Though ‘she’ wasn’t sure that her ‘three months maternity leave’ would be enough to welcome her bundle of joy and in order to save the most to pamper the little one, ‘she’ works till the last day. Three months fly by and now ‘she’ starts contemplating about her work schedule. Her mind keeps reminding her about the added responsibility and expenses but heart doesn’t want to compromise on the child’s wellness.

More than 60% of women quit at this point, some call it a time for family others a choice which has no options. And ‘she’ did the same.

Work and personal life balance has been talk for quite some time now, but it still a reason for highly competent and skills women to quit workplaces .In terms of Indian classification work life balance though is much needed for all but in case of women it is the job that is on stake . ‘She’ might be the story of few but a concern for many and it’s high time for industry to have a look back on what they lost and see if there are chances of recovery.

Are companies doing enough to make workplace conducive for all the ‘She’s?

What could have made ‘she’ work?

Flexibility: It could be in terms of choice to choose work hours or place. A competent resource might deliver a work of 8 hrs in 6 too provided she is not worried of a ticking clock. Flexibility goes hand in hand with high responsibility and accountability, hence if the resource has proven background then it can definitely work wonders for both employee and employer.

Culture: Acceptance of resource working in flexible time by the management and team is of prime importance. It’s a change which flows top down and does require trust and ownership to execute it successfully. It’s definitely more than just a policy, instead needs a changed mindset and proven monitoring methodology for such added benefits.

Support Infrastructure: Sometimes internal transfers, a child care, extended maternity leave or work from home as just some ways to retain talent which could have just given up in to the pressure to perform at two ends. A happy employee will only make it more infectious.

Size of Organization: This too plays an important role here. Where it’s easier for MNC’s to accommodate resource on flexi time or even provide projects which can be handled remotely, while in start-ups or comparatively smaller organizations it becomes difficult to continue. Here in many organization resources can be taken on part time/ time bound projects depending on the nature of the job and skill sets. This can help both parties achieve their objectives.

Personal support: After all it’s about great Indian family. A choice of career break/comeback is very subjective to the family support at different stages. Even if all is in favour but family then it’s another daunting task to handle things smoothly.

So overall it’s a blend of personal and organizational support and acceptance which can make women work seamlessly at work. Infact working women have to fight through daily dilemma and guilt of non performance which many time leads to an easiest path of exit. However, if organizations become more sensitive toward a workforce which has lesser attrition and many reasons for brand loyalty, life for many would be much easier and definitely brighter.

I too had a ‘she’ in me who kept fighting with time and finally gave up, but then the comeback happened. And it only happened because I made it possible on my own terms of work flexibility.

She was a dreamer, who wanted all bit
Her aspirations were high, so her commit.
She played her cards and shined with time
Never looked back, just moved on in prime.
She entered a lovely garden with chosen few
And life added flowers which simple grew.
Lost in the fragrance she went in a slumber
As she woke felt the blunder.
Tried hard to make a comeback
Some doors opened but only to attack.
She smelled a flower lying in her lap for long
Smiled back and felt her soul strong.
World was new as she opened her eyes
Full of dreams and ready to fly.

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