A supportive environment: Vibha Padalkar, ED and CFO, HDFC Life emphasises that support from companies and male colleagues can make all the difference
27 per cent of companies reported not offering any support programmes for women returning from leave. Why are companies still averse or indifferent towards this?
Companies are still perhaps taking a short-term view that as long as there are male candidates being more than available to fill up vacant positions, they need not have to devote too much mindspace to encourage women to return to work. However, this is a myopic view as generally female employees who are extended a supportive welcome to rejoin work tend to be loyal to the organisation.
What role can a male colleague play towards helping his female colleague’s transition smoother?
Playing down stereotypical behaviour is a starting point! For e.g. a female colleague who leaves work on time: instead of appearing to work for extended hours should not be subjected to snide remarks as long as she delivers what is expected of her. There might also be a transition time, that is but natural, for her to come up to speed on new technology, regulations, new products and so on.
If given an opportunity, which are a few female-friendly policies that you would like to introduce?
Flexi-timing only for women ought to stop as it does not take into consideration that a man too might have pressing needs to cater to on the home front such as caring for an aged/ailing parent. One of the main reasons that working women ‘throw in the towel’ is because they are overwhelmed by the enormity of their multiple responsibilities and their need to do justice to all of them. Usually, this crisis period passes, with children no longer needing constant attention or an ailing parent recovering. A mentorship programme by senior women employees who have ‘been there and done that’ could help provide a support system to help her ‘hang in there’. Another policy that enables women to ease into work just post childbirth would be to allow half-day work for the first six months after resuming work.