IBM – Creating opportunities through the ‘Tech re-entry programme’

IBM’s initiative asserts that career breaks may no longer be a hurdle for people. High time other companies got inspired.

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A break in your career can make a big impact on your CV. Rejoining the workforce after a long time is very difficult for an individual, given the dynamic environment of today’s corporate world, where changes take place every few months.

It is far from easy to cope with the new trends of the world and acquire new skills. Generally, it is observed that mostly women are the ones who have to leave their jobs due to family constrains, such as marriage or pregnancy. Even within families and homes, whenever something goes wrong, women are the first ones to leave their jobs.

For the benefit of such people who wish to return after a career break of two years or more, IBM India has started a new hiring programme called the ‘Tech re-entry programme’.

This global programme started in IBM India in 2018. Although it is called ‘Tech re-entry’, the programme offers opportunities to people in all kinds of roles, in addition to tech roles in the Company.

While it is common in the corporate world for companies from all sectors to introduce similar re-entry programmes for women, IBM has gone ahead and offered the same to one and all, irrespective of gender. Differently abled people and members of the LGBT community are also free to apply.

“At IBM, inclusion is more important than just diversity. All our programmes at IBM are inclusive in nature, and open to all kinds of communities and gender,” says Prachi Rastogi, HR leader, diversity and inclusion, IBM India.

Citing an example from her own family, where one of her relatives took a sabbatical to be with his child, she adds, “It is not that only women can go on long sabbatical leaves. Sometimes, even men take a break in their careers to care for their new born.”

Prachi Rastogi

“We organise an orientation programme for nine months for the candidates, where they are trained in different skills, such as blockchain, cloud and Internet of Things. After going through this programme, all the people are placed in niche roles”

Being away from work for a long period of time it becomes very important for people participating in this programme to go through a training process. Therefore, the Company provides eight to nine months of onboarding and training, where all the candidates are trained in different skills.

“We organise an orientation programme for nine months for the candidates, where they are trained in different skills, such as blockchain, cloud and Internet of Things. After going through this programme, all the people are placed in niche roles,” mentions Rastogi.

The main aim of this programme was to bring back more women on board in mid- management level. Though it is an inclusive programme for all, it is observed that women form a majority.

“It is not just at IBM, but in the whole industry we see that till the mid-management level, the ratio of men and women is pretty much balanced. But when it comes to the mid-level management, the numbers suddenly begin to drop,” explains Rastogi.

Even while evaluating people for induction, the Company only looks at their attitude, the willingness to learn and the skills acquired from previous experiences.

The ‘Tech re-entry programme’ is only a small part of a series of initiatives, which IBM has taken for women. It also has initiatives and programmes, for women who return after a long maternity leave.

As described by Rastogi, IBM’s ‘Karisma’ programme runs a series of initiatives for working mothers, and mothers who rejoin after a long maternity leave.

IBM provides free access to an online portal for its new parents, where they can get guidance on taking care of their new-born child from experts all over the world. Under the ‘Karisma’ programme, there is a Care 9 initiative, where new parents have free access to gynaecologists, psychologists and physicians for counselling.

It also provides facilities, such as well-equipped laxation and rest rooms where women can express milk so that they do not have to go to washrooms all the time.

IBM also gives away Inclusion Awards to managers, chosen by young mothers themselves, based on their personal experience. These are managers who have helped these mother create a work-life balance after their maternity leave and pregnancy.

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