Women professionals are in short supply, as they drop out at various levels of education in India, says a new report. This problem is compounded by the fact that even after higher studies, a large number of women do not join the organised workforce, says ICICI Bank's report titled Women in Leadership'.
Companies should hire women right from the initial stages, so that there are enough women who can move up the ladder to the middle and senior management positions, says Chanda Kochhar, managing director and chief executive of ICICI Bank. "It is important to clearly convey that they are purely merit-oriented and women are rewarded on the basis of their performance."
The report notes that women prefer non-sales roles, but most jobs in the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurances) sector involve some kind of sales.
Organisations also have to deal with the sensitivities of woman employees who stop working at some stage of their career - owing to reasons such as motherhood, among others - and then seek to come back. The report says that by the time these women re-enter, their former colleagues might have already moved up the corporate ladder.
According to Kochhar, humane HR policies including flexi-working policies help women tide over phases such as marriage and motherhood. "Our maternity leave is six months, but if someone requires more time, we give it."
Apart from maternity leave, the bank also provides 36 days of "paid childcare leave" each year for mothers/single fathers till the child attains the age of two years. Further, a "fertility leave" of 180 days is available for employees seeking to undergo treatment for fertility.
For adoption, 36 days of paid leave is available each year for woman employees as well as single fathers who adopt a child.