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How startups and India Inc are winning over Indian working mothers at the workforce

Presenting a list of startups and top companies in India who are helping mums balance work and life effectively with specific programmes aimed at them.

Rekha Balakrishnan & Tanvi Dubey
12th May 2019
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The lack of favourable maternity policies, caregiving breaks, flexible working hours, or returnship programmes have all taken a toll on a woman’s career.


Not anymore, say startups and top Indian corporates, with many of these firms rolling out policies that favour working mothers and encourage their participation in the workforce.


With special maternity programmes, returnships, flexible work policies, and mentorship, top startups and companies are ensuring that mothers return to work and that they do not have to give up on achieving major milestones in their career, while being fully equipped and skilled to resume their work seamlessly.


HerStory recently published the story of a woman who was hired in the third trimester of her pregnancy. We also regularly feature women who have been on career breaks, but have made their way to the top because of special returnship programmes offered by their companies.


Today, on Mother’s Day, HerStory takes a look at the list of startups and corporates leading the new change in India Inc.


This list is only growing.


OYO


At OYO, as new mothers deal with a major transition, the company actively works towards creating a culture that supports them right from the start of motherhood to the throes of childhood, and backs their personal and professional growth and development. provides special initiatives and platforms for working mothers round the year.


The maternity leave stands at 26 weeks, in compliance with the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017. Apart from that, the organisation also has an in-house nursery/ daycare for OYO preneurs who are parents to infants and toddlers. The first of these in-house day-care facilities, titled Little O,  was opened in June 2018 at its head office in Gurugram. This in-house creche and daycare centre is managed by reputed experts in the field, the KLAY group.


It has also introduced a reimbursable monthly allowance for OYO parents across the country who avail other daycare facilities for their children and negotiated discounted rates for those who wish to enroll their children in certain centres that it has tied up with across the country.


BookMyShow


The women-focused policies at BookMyShow include:


  • Flexible work policies offered to pregnant employees, prior to their maternity leave kicking-in. The company has a ‘45-hour per week’ policy, but this is eased for such employees.
  • Family Day at work, where both parents bring their children to work


BYJU’S


At BYJU’S, the 'Mothers for Mentors' campaign launched  in 2017 is targeted at helping women restart their careers. It enables mothers to take on the role of a mentor and guide students on their learning journey, and at the same time pursue their career and ambitions.


The company offers mothers the flexibility and the set up to work from home and play the role of mentors to students. They address students’ queries and guide them through their learning journey and challenges throughout their curriculum. BYJU’S focuses heavily on student mentorship as it makes a huge difference in learning and education. Till today, over 50 mothers have participated in the programme. The programme has received some amazing feedback from students and parents alike. It has also provided an excellent platform for new mothers to restart their careers from the comfort of their homes.


Schneider Electric


Schneider Electric has a number of programmes that help its women employees in different areas of work.

Her Second Innings: This particular programme was introduced by the company to make the female employees feel comfortable when they join after a long break.


Flexible working hours: The organisation offers its female employees the opportunity to pursue flexible working options to help them attain a greater work-life balance.

Mentoring women employees on maternity leave: Under this policy, a buddy is assigned to women employees to make them aware of organisational developments during their absence.  

Global leave policy: This  policy  allows paid personal time to employees  during moments when it matters the most, enabling them to better manage their unique life and work.

Paternity leave: This policy allows the secondary parent to take leave up to two weeks and can be combined flexi-work option.


Schneider Electric was selected as one of the corporate champions for HeforShe movement initiated by UN women, to promote gender equality.


Microsoft

With an aim to ensure that women are able to find their rightful place as leaders in the corporate world, Microsoft’s programmes help hone their leadership and management potential and support women employees in boosting their career to new levels through multiple platforms.


Springboard is Microsoft’s back-to-work programme gives women professionals a perfect relaunch to their careers. It enables young women professionals who have taken a career break to get back to work. The programme hosts various initiatives, including a mix of on-boarding, many training hours, and mentoring, which helps them gradually transition to focus on their career while balancing family priorities.

Flexible work arrangements: Microsoft offers flexible working arrangements, which help them stay connected seamlessly and ‘work from anywhere’. Microsoft’s enhanced maternity policy now offers flexible work arrangements for up to two years to its female employees. Microsoft’s infrastructure enables all employees, including new parents, to be mobile while continuing to be collaborative and engaged. Microsoft has four types of flexible work arrangements in India available to all employees:


o   Flexible scheduling

o   Teleworking

o   Work from home

o   Part time

Parental leaves: Recently, Microsoft increased the maternity leave for women employees to six months. Microsoft has also given them options to opt for unpaid leave of up to three months. Keeping in mind the significance of both, mother and father, in nurturing a newly born child, paternity leave has been increased from two weeks to six weeks for male employees. The same leave entitlements apply to those who adopt a child as well as for surrogate parents.

The Family Caregiver leave benefit offers four weeks of paid leave to take care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

PayPal

A back-to-work programme, Recharge, supports women in India to pursue technical careers to their full potential.

It is designed to help women technologists in India jumpstart their return to the workplace. At the end of the programme,  some of these women the opportunity to work with the company and build next-generation payments across roles such as software development engineer, software development-test engineer, software development manager, release engineer, and risk analyst.   

Other policies/initiatives by PayPal:

Flexible work policies and programmes such as MyBalance are specifically designed keeping in mind women employees as the company aims  to create a supportive work environment.

It offers a paid adoption leave of 16 weeks for female employees, while the paternity policy has been adjusted to include adoption leave.

Its Shadow-a-Leader initiative is designed for mid-career female technologists to shadow senior company leaders for a period of time, to gain insights, skills, and exposure to develop their leadership skills.

The Girls in Tech programme gives young girls a hands-on experience and understanding of technology at an early stage.  

Verizon India

Verizon India’s Wings - Back to Work Programme provides an opportunity for women looking at relaunching their careers after a break. The catchment pool for Wings are candidates with the required skill set who have been on a break from anywhere between six months and five years. Once they are part of Verizon India, an orientation programme equips them with essential skills to help them integrate with the larger team. It is complemented by a buddy programme, with an employee assigned to each new hire to help her get familiar with the new environment, a three-month warming period, two-three weeks project-based training as required, and a sensitisation programme for the managers of the new hires.

Based on the recent amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, Verizon India has revised its Maternity Leave and Gradual Return to Work (GRW) policy to provide a combined benefit of up to 12 months to new and expectant mothers. This benefit can be combined with any of these three options from GRW to add up to another six months of flexible work options.

# Full-time work from home for a maximum period of 180 days.

# art-time work from home or office for a maximum period of 180 days

# Unpaid leave


Alstom

Its India Flexibility policy, Santulan,  was launched in November and employees are availing the benefits as per their need. It includes:

Work from Home: Many employees are availing this today

Part time employment: Two employees

Unpaid leaves: Four employees

Flexible working: All office employees

Intuit India


Through the returnship program, Intuit Again, women technologists who have taken a break in their career are provided with an opportunity to return to work. Introduced in 2018, the Girl Child Education Project is a diversity and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative that provides for the education of an underprivileged girl child for every new woman hire at Intuit India.


IBM


The different initiatives undertaken by IBM include:


CharisMA - offers a wide range of trainings, coach on call, buddies and new parent information on a portal

Carenine - trimester guidance along with emotional counseling, mental preparation and physical exercises. It is also includes counselling after delivery on diet, lactation and back to work readiness

Approx. 80 child care centres both for women and men employees who are new parents.

Inclusion awards - working mothers get to choose managers who have been supportive to their new life. The selected managers are announced and awarded.

Tech re-entry - a special programme to hire people who took a sabbatical and would like to come back to the corporate world. 

Travel policy - new parents can travel for work along with their child (0-2 years) and a caretaker.  IBM sponsors the travel and stay cost.

Disha -an intentional career pathing program for women to create an identity with the work they do. It is a development program which has an advocacy rate of 92 percent.

All managers get trained on the law of the land for new mothers and how best to engage with them. This ensures elimination of unconscious bias in behaviour and key career decisions.

Lactation rooms in office to express and store milk

Upskilling academy for women who resume work after a long break due to maternity to ensure their skills stay relevant

Part-time, job sharing roles are created as per needs

An executive sponsor is appointed in every business for regular connect and resolve issues if any.

Transport assistance for pregnant women as and when needed

Maternity handbooks available for pregnant women and a separate handbook for managers who have pregnant women in their team/s. It is a one-stop shop to everything an employee needs to know at this stage.

Circle of empowerment community -  it is a community where experienced mothers interact with the new ones to share experience and to respond to questions. This forum also invites leaders from within and outside of IBM to share their stories for inspiration


Read More


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