Diversity hiring

When VN had a baby four years ago, throwing up her HR job at HSBC was a no brainer. She may have been pulling in a six figure salary and the bank was a famous one, but it could not compete with the surge of excitement that a gurgle evoked. A year or two later, however, things had changed. VN wanted to flee from the 24/7 demands of the cradle and into the arms of the career that she had so happily jilted. The career, of course, had moved on without her.

The motherhood Vs manager zone that VN’s case typifies is the story of hundreds of young working women who find that marriage and maternity are accompanied by terribly hard choices. If they choose the office there are stabs of guilt and constant anxiety about the child. If they choose baby, there is often a festering resentment about opportunities. Worse, getting back into a good job after a three or four year break is very difficult.

Enter the Tata Group with its Tata Second Career Internship Program for women (Tata SCIP) VN has been hired for the Taj Hotels and LM, a chartered accountant who gave up a 10 year old career for her two children, is now with Tata Communications. The unique Tata initiative seeks to accommodate aspiring women professionals looking for a second stint after taking a break to attend to domestic demands. What is special about this progam is that it is not restricted to old (though helpful) policies like flexible working hours and office crèches which Xerox pioneered. This project is targeted at reclaiming talent and helping women make a comeback. Women are hired into the same job profile an IT professional is given an IT portfolio and not pushed into a marginal.

Tata SCIP is not just about women’s empowerment, it also seeks to bust the myth that after a career break women becomes less productive, Young working women themselves labor under this delusion . An important factor is that fear (of coping in a market that has greatly changed) has been taken away says VN, who was prompted by her husband to apply for Tata SCIP. The transition has been smooth.

Now in the second year, Tata SCIP has attracted over 3,000 resumes from Mumbai and Bangalore in the first five days of the ad campaign launched this month. The website has received 30,000 hits. The largest number of applications has come from women with marketing and HR backgrounds.

HR experts say this strategy helps the company build a talent pool at minimum cost. This is also called diversity hiring.

Globally, firms have a separate person heading diversity hiring. This decreases the ratio between men and women in an organization. For instance, in the Tata Group, India’s largest private sector employer, women form only 10% of the workforce in manufacturing companies and 40% in service oriented companies like TCS and Taj hotels.

There are a host companies and banks that encourage, a second innings for women. But most do it implicitly. They prefer women candidates if their career break is not too long. In order to be eligible for the Tata SCIP, the career gap has to be less than eight years. As Dahiya reasons, when women go beyond that period it usually means they have signed out from work for good. But won’t the men feel left out? Corporates should look at tapping the growing number of retirees. Well, the concerned may just have had a brainwave.

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