A study shows that about 36 per cent of women in India take a break from work for various reasons, varying from marriage, family expansion, pursuit of passion, or for cargiving. Out of these, only about 58 per cent are able to rejoin the workforce in a full-time role.
Many companies in the tech sector, from TCS to Google, IBM and Amazon, have tried to help such women. They have come up with ‘women returnship programmes’, where women with some experience, are retrained and then placed in tech roles. This helps them restart their career after a gap.
On the same lines, HCL Technologies has started the IBelieve programme, which aims to reskill women who have taken a break in their career and place them in suitable tech and business-enablement roles at HCL.
Srimathi Shivashankar, Corporate Vice President & Program Director, New Vistas, HCL Technologies, explains, that no eligibility criteria are followed as such, while selecting candidates for the training programme
Women professionals with a minimum of six months gap in their career may apply for this programme, wherein they will undergo training for one to three months depending on the level of experience and training required for the individual.
The iBelieve progarmme at HCL works as a refresher course for such women and trains them in relevant skill sets for the tech industry.
“We are planning to diversify the courses offered under this programme, and train women from diverse industries in areas such as financial services or customer-oriented roles”
Srimathi Shivashankar, Corporate Vice President & Program Director, New Vistas, HCL Technologies
Shivashankar explains that there is a dedicated team at HCL, which identifies and grooms some of the best women tech talent through this programme.
It has been a while since the iBelieve programme at HCL began. While women with prior experience in the tech industry have been preferred for this programme, HCL wishes to change this. “We are planning to diversify the courses offered under this programme, and train women from diverse industries in areas such as financial services or customer-oriented roles,” says Shivashankar.
Though the iBelieve programme did not see much activity during the pandemic, it has managed to train 500 women professionals till date.
Participants of the programme are placed at HCL after being assessed. As of now, the programme has a 100 per cent absorption rate, with all women professionals being placed with HCL.
Even those women professionals who have no or very limited past work experience are eligible for the programme. They are treated as freshers by HCL and and placed accordingly.
“The iBelieve programme has proved to be a great women’s talent pipeline for HCL,” admits Shivashankar.
A significant number of women are hired by HCL from the campuses. Though the Company has not yet revealed the exact numbers, Shivashankar says that as a practice, while hiring, HCL tries to keep an equal ratio of men and women. “As of now, we have been able to maintain an average ratio of 44:43, but we aim to keep a 50:50 ratio going forward,” says Shivashankar.
Till now, HCL has been focusing on improving gender diversity in tier II and III cities of the country, where women often have to leave their native place to work in metros.
The Company’s ‘Come Back Home’ programme offers women the flexibility to work from their respective homes and live with their families. Also, when HCL is looking to expand in tier II and III cities, it plans to hire local talent from the local colleges. However, for specialised talent, it often relies on universities that offer such specialised courses.
Unlike many other global tech firms, HCL does not follow a strategy of reserving a specific number of positions for women. Such a mandate, HCL feels, can not only impact the business but also make the job of a recruiter a little more difficult and hard. After all, finding relevant CVs as per the mandated numbers can prove to be a challenge. “Rather than giving a mandate, we believe in giving equal opportunities to everyone,” enunciates Shivashankar.
“To create an edge in the talent market, we believe in creating flexible roles for women talent who often drop out of full-time work due to family responsibilities. The pandemic has helped organisations realise that work can be made flexible and performed remotely,” asserts Shivashankar.