About 48% of women professionals in India take a career break due to personal reasons. Of these women, about 91% want to return, however only around 35% are able to do so.
The Major reasons for not joining back are inflexible schedules, and long commutes to work. Internships and flexwork programs for returnees often involve deep pay cuts and significantly lower responsibilities in comparison to their peers. Such programs could have an adverse impact on the self-esteem of the women returnees.
India is now the fastest growing online retail market among major economies. Millions of customers are making a shift to e-commerce, including in Tier II and III cities. The changes are so profound that even well-established brick and mortar stores are adopting Omni-channel strategies.
The impact of e-commerce in India is not just limited to the domestic market; companies like Amazon, Alibaba have made it possible for Indian companies to sell directly to both retail and wholesale customers across the world.
In the past 3 years, we have had the experience of selling multiple products like shoes, jewelry, furnishings, health supplements and sports goods from India to global customers through e-commerce. There is no doubt that the era of e-commerce has dawned in India!
As e-commerce grows rapidly there will be changes in the job roles and the skill mix that is needed to drive business. Companies will need support in the areas of IT, data analytics, cataloguing, marketing, operations and customer service. Most, if not all, these roles could be managed remotely with flexible time schedules.
Millions of Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs) that are adopting e-commerce will need experienced talent to compete with larger firms and sell globally. These companies are highly receptive to “online gigs” as it helps them access talent at reasonable costs.
As per a recent McKinsey report, the rise of e-commerce and the online “gig economy” offer many women flexibility in terms of their working hours and where they work, helping them to balance work with their family commitments.
A key apprehension about learning e-commerce among women on a career break is that they will need to learn a new subject and lose the benefit of previous experience. This might not be true in majority of the cases. From fashion to health and beyond, almost every major sector is being disrupted by e-commerce.
The B2B e-commerce market is up to 7 times larger than the B2C e-commerce market. This makes e-commerce relevant for most women irrespective of the sector they operate in. It allows them to continue using their education and experience for career-growth rather than start afresh in a new domain.
Learning e-commerce does not require specialized prior qualifications. The concepts are easy to learn and implement. Plug and play technology and online marketplaces allow those without any software background to comfortably manage e-commerce projects.
All projections support a rapid growth for e-commerce. In 2017, e-commerce was responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales globally and is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021. Revenue from e-commerce related activities in India is expected to increase from $ 39 billion in 2017 to US $120 billion in 2020, growing at an annual rate of 51 percent, the highest in the world. This means an investment in to learning e-commerce will be beneficial in the long term.
The institute for Global E-commerce has launched the #herCall program to prepare 10K women from different sectors for a career in e-commerce. The program is being simultaneously rolled out in the United States, India and Canada. Women enrolled in the program will receive a full course fee waiver on a 6 months course that will see them certified as a Global E-commerce Professional (GEP).
A flexible career can work wonders for the self-esteem and financial independence of women. E-commerce offers an opportunity to make a world of difference.
Mukta Gawde, Dr. Anand Bidarkar.
With special thanks to research team at Institute For Global E-commerce
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Ecommerce Industry in India. India Brand Equity Foundation. https://www.ibef.org/industry/ecommerce.aspx. Accessed on 7th December 2018.
Why Indian Women Leave the Workforce. Forbes India. http://www.forbesindia.com/blog/business-strategy/why-indian-women-leave-the-workforce/. Accessed on 7th December 2018.
The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India, 2018. McKinsey.com https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/the-power-of-parity-advancing-womens-equality-in-india-2018. Accessed on 7th December 2018.
How reboot programmes help Indian women get back after a career break. YourStory. https://yourstory.com/2018/10/returnships-reboot-programmes-helping-indian-women-get-back-after-career-break/. Accessed on 7th December 2018.
Global Ecommerce: Statistics and International Growth Trends [Infographic]. Shopify plus. https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/global-ecommerce-statistics. Accessed on 7th December 2018.
Institute for Global Ecommerce, data on file