On an average, women comprise 3 per cent of the telecom workforce. However, at Telenor, the share of women employees has gone up to 11 per cent.
In the last 12 months, there has been a 100 per cent increase in Telenor’s women workforce. The recruitment has happened across functions — product development, sales and distribution and social media. The company has also hired 21 differently-abled women in the last one year.
Telecom is one of the most challenging sectors for women to work in, for it requires 24×7 commitment. As many women discontinue their jobs after marriage or maternity, Telenor has specially emphasised on providing the necessary infrastructure to retain them and give them a career path post maternity.
On an average, the share of women employees in the telecom industry is still 3 per cent. However, at Telenor, the share of women employees has risen to 11 per cent.
The telecom company had introduced six months’ maternity leave and also extended the benefits by offering child care allowance to new mothers for 12 months, post their comeback.
In addition, it also introduced various other programmes for women, such as flexible working hours, work from home policy and gender sensitisation at the workplace. The company believes in offering extended mobility benefits for women employees by promoting movement across circles.
“We encourage lateral movement of female colleagues in different business functions within Telenor circles (locations) if it helps in their career progression. Besides these, there are training modules and development centres to prepare women employees for leadership roles, both for domestic and international assignments,” says Quazi Mohammad Shahed, chief human resource officer, Telenor India.
The company is also trying innovative ways, such as theatre-based training to sensitise employees on the day to day biases and dilemmas, and suggest ways to overcome stereotypes at the workplace.
As part of its commitment to empower women and bridge the gender gap within and outside the organisation, last year Telenor India started three contact centres at Jamshedpur in Jharkhand; Solan in Himachal Pradesh and Ethakota near Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh.
These facilities are being managed by Tata-BSS and are aimed at creating employment opportunities in the IT sector, for not only urban women but also for women from the rural parts of these states.
Telenor also operates an outbound call centre from Patna, called DIAL, which is run by women. This centre supports ‘Project Sampark’, which is targetted at reducing the ‘gender gap in mobile usage’ and increasing rural women’s access to mobile phones. Project Sampark is a combination of retail and product innovations, resulting in a unique model, which addresses some of the key barriers that hamper women’s accessibility to mobile telephony.