How to keep women professionals engaged

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How to keep women professionals engaged

Organisations need to focus on ensuring that their women do not quit.

Looks like women are quitting their jobs at a faster rate than men. Whatever happened to women being more stable workers than men?

Are women employees growing increasingly unhappy?  Why are companies finding it difficult to retain women staff despite investing so much time and money on them?

Recent surveys seem to indicate that the number of unsatisfied women professionals is growing in leaps and bounds. In order to keep them engaged, it is important to find out what is important to them and what is not.

 

  1. Burden: Despite women earning enough to hire help, they still seem to be taking on more responsibilities at home, especially when it comes to children. In trying to straddle their professional commitments and fulfilling their duties as mothers and wives, they are overburdened. After all, it is the mother who usually tends to a sick child, helps with homework, and provides the mental support required during exams. When the stress gets too much, they begin to contemplate quitting or opting for jobs that are less stressful.
  2. Overcautious colleagues: Following the #MeToo movement, recruiters and organisations are being overcautious when it comes to hiring women. Also, in trying to be ‘careful’ while interacting with women, the men in the office end up being cold and distant. This makes it difficult for the existing women to feel comfortable and new entrants to break the ice and make friends.
  3. Fear of retaliation: Although offices have become more women-friendly and safe than ever before, women continue to fear retaliation. There have been too many reports of victims of sexual harassment having to put up with retaliation by the management for speaking up. Too many women professionals have been transferred to tougher projects or locations without any explanation post complaining of sexual harassment. As per a study by the Network for Executive Women in the US, an alarming 75 per cent of women who speak up about harassment at the workplace are penalised in some way or the other, which forces them to quit. If this can happen in the West, which is considered relatively more progressive and liberal, the state of women professionals in India is bound to be worse.
  4. Pay disparity: While organisations are increasingly trying to bridge the wage gap, across the world, most women continue to be paid less than men. While hiring married women, it is usually assumed that they will be taking long maternity leaves or may even quit when they decide to raise a family. Also, since salaries are often fixed on the basis of the past salary, women tend to lose since they are anyway paid less than men. Therefore, chances of them continuing to receive smaller remunerations compared to men is more.
  5. Dependent decision-making: While women are keen to experiment and explore, they are still unable to take major career decisions without consulting their spouses or families. When it comes to transfers, travelling or relocation, this factor goes against them. Men seem to have it much easier. They make the decisions, and the family just adjusts. In Indian families, men are still considered the main bread winners.

While Indian corporates are increasingly focussing on diversity and inclusion, and employing more women than they used to, they need to do a lot more to prevent their women from quitting. Organisations have been going all out to encourage women to take on leadership roles, to assign them meaningful and challenging tasks, and offering maternity benefits. Yet, many end up giving up. And once they quit, rarely do they get back. So what can organisations do?

Flexibility and work-from-home options seem to be the most attractive incentives right now. More than monetary benefits and increments, women, especially mothers, appreciate flexibility at work.  Some may wish to be there to take their children to dance or piano classes. Others may want just an hour with their child at the park every day. The wishes may be small, but they require a lot in terms of time. Flexibile working hours help them pursue their professional calling, enjoy economic independence and at the same time, fulfil their commitments towards their families. Above all, it frees them of the guilt of having to neglect their wifely and motherly duties in their pursuit of professional success.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I think the mindset has to change from both sides. All men are not insane at the same time reverse is also true. In the changing circumstances and needs, women has to be provided the support both at the workplace and at home. When a working lady is required to manage family; kids; husband; in-laws relatively once some amount is deposited in the bank, retirement comes to the mind. This attitude has to stop. Today we hardly find leadership positions filled with ladies.

  2. I agree this calls for a change of mindset… other than views on the personal front. Most companies do not have gender parity for pay for the same work. A woman generally spends more years at the same grade than a man with similar experience. The same when it comes to promotions. Let’s no forget the ageism bias; a women around 50 yrs. are considered old to retire whereas a man is considered more productive. This is conveyed in a very subtle manner and not many opportunities given for advancement. Mistakes are considered an opportunity to replace with a younger person. Even today, the women’s income is considered a second income and hence when it comes to hiring / firing, the women professional is considered over the men all other conditions being equal. Advocacy for women is lacking in most organisations making it difficult for women to reach the top. The list goes on….hence leadership positions do not have many women. The positiive aspects of women handling roles with the sensitivity they bring to work and other virtues are totally lost. Most women hence drop out without climbing to the top or making the most of their career.

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