She juggles different roles without letting any relationship drop. Her hand rocks the cradle, her fingers are at the keyboard and mind on the next presentation.
Meet the modern-day multi-tasker–home-maker, the power-puff mom and the die-hard professional who is fighting all odds to break through glass ceilings.
She has battled a long way but now she has fresh challenges to face. “Working is no more about skirting harassment at the workplace or being paid less than male colleagues. It’s more about walking the tightrope between work and family,” says Samsung India, GM corporate communication, Ruchika Batra.
Psychologists will tell you that in the absence of suitable child care and lack of options like working from home and flexi-timing, the stress levels of working women have skyrocketed.
Nearly 85% of women respondents under the Kelly Global Workforce Index released this year have indicated that they work longer hours if there was suitable childcare. “Finding the right childcare can be a daunting exercise for many who want to balance their family and working lives,” says Kelly Services India, country general manager, Achal Khanna.
But businesses with a conscience are coming forward to cushion this productive workforce against the existential stress.
In fact, some companies have been at it for quiet sometime. IBM’s first woman employee was hired way back in 1899, Equal Pay for Equal Work declared in 1935, and the first woman vice-president appointed in 1943.
“We have five flexible work options to support our employees in maintaining a better work-life balance. We have also partnered with vendors in Delhi and Bangalore for extending professional and reliable childcare facility to our employees. Much of this is funded by the $50 million Global Work Life Fund floated by the company to handle diversity issues,” says IBM India diversity leader Anita Guha.
Finally, the biggest gift that could be offered to the women-force of India would be the option and the regulatory environment to work from home. “Information technology had made it possible and there is an opportunity galore but regulations do not permit companies to connect international lines to a public switch telephone network at homes,” says National Association of Software and Services Companies Kiran Karnik.
Karnik’s hope is pinned on the great difference that such a policy break could make to the skill-starved IT-BPO sector. In the software industry, the men to women ratio was 76:24 in 2005 and is expected to go to 65:35 by 2007. In the ITES-BPO sector the ratio of men to women is 31:69.