Pathways carved for returning and working mothers

ASHOKA University’s Genpact Centre for Women’s Leadership (GCWL) recently culminated the final phase of its Breakthrough training programme for returning and working mothers. The two-day training conducted on November 14–15 in Gurugram focused on managing power and influences at workplace, building networks for career growth and navigating difficult conversations at home & work through the reintegration process.

This year, 45 women participated in the programme taking the total number of women trained under Breakthrough to 70. Last year, GCWL conducted the training for 25 working mothers from various organisations.

Dr Harpreet Kaur, director, Genpact Centre for Women’s Leadership (GCWL), “In a patriarchal society, where women’s income is mostly seen as a supplementary household income and often prefers women to earn less than men, where employers make women feel guilty about their double burden and a society that does not value women’s contribution to the economy, the incentive for women to be ambitious is low. Dropout among women due to maternity and childcare is one of the manifestations of a woman’s unequal world. The Breakthrough programme provides women the skills to effectively navigate these interdependent demographic, cultural, economic, and social factors that make maternity an exit gate for women. With an excellent mix of experts on subjects discussed, participatory methodology, and peer learning, the programme offers an enabling environment where women’s own worth, shared value, and contribution to economy is realised.”

The trainings, conducted over three phases from August to November, have been designed to equip the participants with specific skillsets that are mastering key leadership behaviors and skillsets that propel participants towards the C-Suite career track, assess & re-engineer existing support systems for improved work-life balance, navigating professional hurdles through mentoring opportunities, and navigating tough conversations.

As part of Phase 3, GCWL has engaged subject matter experts and industry professional to facilitate different components of the training and offer mentorship through experience sharing. Some of the key speakers for the final phase of training include Vrinda Grover, Lawyer & Human Rights Activist, Dipali Sheth, Vice President – People Strategy & Organisational Development, Ashoka University, Gagan Adlakha, Leadership Coach & Senior Partner – Vyaktitva, and Sonali Jain, Assistant Vice President, Genpact, Diversity & Inclusion.

Pooja Bajpai, leadership coach and consultant, “Though diversity has made it to the CEOs’ agenda, there is still a long way to go for women to be in leadership positions and more importantly continue to be in the workforce. Managing life transitions and providing a network that equips women with the skills to navigate their professional journey is the key premise of the Breakthrough programme. It has been an interesting journey to see the cohort evolve and leverage this learning platform over the last three months. Life stage interventions coupled with mentoring support can be a significant game changer to see more number of women in workforce and eventually leadership.”

The Breakthrough training programme follows through from the research findings of GCWL’s study presented in the report,Predicament of Returning Mothers, in April 2018. The report documents lived experiences of maternity and career among women and their return to the workforce across the corporate, media, and development sectors. The training would help women manage the complex network of individual, family, social, and workplace factors that force women to leave the workforce post pregnancy and childbirth.

Isha Sharma, breakthrough programme manager, Genpact Centre for Women’s leadership (GCWL), “The issue of decreasing number of women in the formal workforce cannot be dealt with only at a macro level. It is critical to hear and address voices from the women who after a lifetime of education and work call it quits. Families view a woman’s job as “some extra money” not a career or life choice. More often than not women are not able to have agency over their own careers. Breakthrough training has been a platform for women to not only articulate and share their challenges in returning to work and managing work-life post maternity, but has also enabled & equipped them with 21st century skills which prepare them for the current market needs and develop their own unique career path and brand.”

Gurpreet Nazareth (participant – returning mother), Freelancer & Job Seeker, “An exceptional initiative taken by GCWL. It will motivate a lot of women who have taken a career break to return to work. The course content has inspired me to take a step forward and get out of my comfort zone after 11 years. Thank you GCWL.”

Anu Bagai, (participant – working mother), Lawyer, Supreme Court & High Court Delhi says, “Breakthrough Training by GCWL is a truly remarkable platform empowering women across sectors to recognise their strengths and build their personal brands. The training is engaging and uplifting focusing primarily at giving perspective for achieving excellence by acquiring/upscaling the requisite skill set. The sheer spectrum of areas covered in the training along with the follow up meets and one on one sessions with real time feedback makes it possible to cater to the specific needs of each individual.”

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