When women win, we all win. Here’s how to bring women back to work after career breaks
When women achieve, everyone benefits. It’s time to address the issues underpinning gender inequality and #breakthebias
Thursday May 19, 2022,
5 min Read
As a chief executive in the tech industry, I know first-hand the challenges our industry faces when it comes to increasing diversity. Recent statistics from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) show that women make up about half of the workforce in the United States, but fill only 26 percent of professional computing jobs.
Across India, women held just 26 percent in IT and ITES roles, according to the Zinnov-Intel India Gender Diversity Benchmark Report 2021. The report further highlights that the Indian corporate ecosystem has only 11 percent representation of women in senior leadership roles, 38 percent in the junior level, and 20 percent in mid-level roles.
In this article, I have distilled my learnings about the state of women in tech and across industries, their current challenges, barriers to inclusion and advancement and what businesses should do to level the playing field for women.
Women want more opportunities to train
What we hear from our clients repeatedly is that women want professional development and training opportunities. And they want this more than work-life balance, even more than a bigger paycheck or employer-sponsored childcare.
Women want to be adequately compensated
While women crave opportunities to advance professionally, there’s no shying away from other issues they also face as women in tech. While an equitable salary is a leading challenge, work-life balance, and lack of equity with male counterparts are other key challenges.
Provide required support to the women
The common concerns raised by the women are inequity of support and scepticism in their abilities and skills. They find that there are different standards set for them versus men in their field and are tired of being taken less seriously. Not only do they feel excluded, but they are also outnumbered.
Certifications can help in bringing women back to work after career breaks
In our experience as a Digital Transformation company enabling organisations to upskill and reskill their workforces, the overall top areas of interest for women we hear of most often are business analysis, cybersecurity, analytics, AI, and machine learning, leadership and management, project management and cloud computing.
Other interests frequently cited include ITIL, IT Service Management, DevOps, and Agile and Scrum.
Training is the name of the game
Training will encourage more women to enter the field of tech and help those already in tech to thrive. It’s a win-win for everyone involved—advanced training results in increased productivity and resolution times, better onboarding, and an overall decrease in skills gaps.
What organisations should do to bring women back to work after career breaks
Organisations have a dual responsibility to set up a level playing field for women. First, they have an obligation to develop an immediate response to the pink pandemic—a coinage referring to this moment in our collective history, where women are being taxed in all spheres of their lives, both personal and professional. Secondly, there’s a need to focus on long-term, sustainable solutions for women’s development and advancement.
Roll out back-to-work programmes for returning women
Back-to-work programmes targeting women who are returning after a career break can be extremely effective, bringing women back for short periods or for fixed projects during which time their skills are determined, and adequate opportunities provided for training. Alternately, women can be offered full-time roles, providing them adequate support to ease into those jobs.
Be seen as a company that is women-friendly
Organisations should leverage Employer Branding to make known that they welcome women who have been on a break. Ultimately, it’s the policies that make a workplace conducive for women. It's important for organisations to position themselves as providers of a safe and secure environment.
Don’t be rigid in role requirements
Managers hiring women returning to the workplace should understand the experience and skills of the candidate. The organisation should invest in relevant training programmes to upskill the candidate, which will beneficial to both the organisation as well as the new recruit.
We ask all our leaders to imagine themselves in their team members' shoes on a regular basis—and this includes thinking about gender issues.
Rethink your benefits and incentives
The way to attract and retain more female workers is to think in terms of policies and benefits packages that can help your entire workforce. What women increasingly demand from their employers is better work-life balance and greater flexibility.
When women rise, we all win
Businesses that encourage women are likely to significantly outperform those that don’t. As per an IBM study, gender-inclusive organisations reported a rate of revenue growth as much as 61 percent higher than other organisations. Driving such a shift will help the organisation as well as contribute to economic growth.
Paraphrasing UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “When women win, we all win”. It’s time for businesses to address the issues underpinning gender inequality and create a culture that women want to join.
Edited by Diya Koshy George