Allcargo Group has a task in hand. The company which has operations across the world wants to match the gender diversity in India with the rest of the world.
Globally, 50 per cent of the company’s workforce is women but in India there are still miles to go.
This is why the company has been running a special programme – The Restart—Back to Work – which aims to bring back more women to the workforce post their sabbatical or career breaks.
“This was just before the International Women’s Day. While every other company was planning to celebrate with chocolates and appreciation posts, Allcargo Group thought of a rather ‘sustainable programme’ of providing a more effective solution to celebrate women in the workforce instead of some instant gratification like roses or chocolates,” shares Indrani Chatterjee, chief people officer- group, Allcargo Group.
“Our objective was to provide the women who had taken a career break with a second chance and help them get back to work-life with ease,”
Indrani Chatterjee, chief people officer – group, Allcargo Group
Such return to work programmes for women is not a new concept. There are several other companies across sectors which are running such ‘restart career’ initiatives targeted at women.
Chatterjee believes the difference lies in the intention of the whole programme.
“Our objective was to provide the women who had taken a career break with a second chance and help them get back to work-life with ease,” shares Chatterjee.
The company makes the selection or evaluation process very comfortable for the candidates. It is never eager to know why the candidates had taken a career break, rather the focus is on how the candidates tried to stay relevant or upgrade themselves during the sabbatical.
The candidates are evaluated mainly on the basis of performance and confidence during the interview apart from their past experience and fitness for the role.
In addition, no efforts are made to squeeze them into certain roles, compensation, or designation brackets. They are to be treated with the respect they deserve and designation, and roles are decided as per their qualifications and experience and as per market standards.
It’s not that there aren’t any apprehensions. Both the candidate and the team which she is joining, are reluctant and apprehensive.
Chatterjee shares that often women candidates who have taken a career break are hesitant and suffer from self-doubt, even if they are competent for the job.
The same doubt persists among the existing team members as well. They tend to believe that women who return after a career break, may not be so efficient. Now it is the task of HR to convince the existing team that this is the right decision.
The existing team and managers are not only convinced that they are the right talent, they are also taught how to be patient with such new members of the team. The idea is to bring them back to work and help them go through this transition with ease.
Chatterjee says, “These women may have some problems which need to be aligned both at work and at home. We need to give them that time to realign themselves. This is the help they deserve. We all take time to transition from one regime to another.”
“In fact, in the last 8-9 months that we have been running this programme, we have got some great talent,” states Chatterjee.
So what is the primary objective of these women who get back to work after a break? Is it just a job or a career?
Chatterjee admits that initially it is to get back to a job however, at the same time, they also want a career. They want to carve their own identity and self-recognition.
Though these women work across functions starting from IT, operations, finance, sales, strategy and transformation, there is a certain skew towards the HR function which has a maximum number of women. “We don’t have any kind of ring fencing for any roles based on gender,” she states.
When asked about women in leadership roles, Chatterjee shares that her job is to keep motivating women to take up more leadership roles and keep growing in the organisation.
“I just have to provide them with the platform; at a senior level, motivation is more about seeing the growth, getting that environment, and keeping up with the ecosystem where everyone is helping around; we are open to diversity and a safe workplace in our organisation.”
“I would certainly be happy to see more women in the leadership role.”
The restart programme is still in its early stages, and the focus is on to get more and more women back to the workforce irrespective of their company or their industry.