The percentage of women in India dropping out of white collar jobs in mid-career is as high as 48%, as compared to the Asian average of 21%, it was revealed on Friday.
A panel discussion on leadership by women at the “Women in the World Summit” here was initiated by the moderator with the premise that India’s current gross domestic product (GDP) could rise by upto 2%, if these women, who left the workforce mostly on account of the need to give more time to the family, are retained at the workplace.
“The Indian woman has a ton of stakeholders in her life, led by the parents and later, after marriage, the in-laws,” said Ipsita Dasgupta, chief commercial officer, GE South Asia.
Naina Lal Kidwai, chairperson and India director HSBC Asia Pacific, said that women in leading positions help to “sensitise” the organisation.
“We were the first bank in India to bring back the five-day week and flexi hours. Women can take even a year away from the organisation without creating policy issues,” she said.
Pointing to the particular advantages of the Indian situation, Kidwai said: “Having mothers-in-law at home gave us women the flexibility to work.”
Putting forth her perspective on the Indian context, Padmasree Warrior, former chief technology officer Cisco, said that apart the family, the community is a major reality in India.
“It is not just a question of mothers-in-law and husbands. We also live in a community,” Warrior said.
She said the number for women who leave jobs in mid-career in America is as high as 51%.
“If you go with the mindset that you will have both children, as well as a career, then you can blend both,” Warrior said.
Touching on deeper aspects of the issue, Kidwai, a former president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said women felt more guilt when faced with the career-versus-family conundrum.
“Women feel more guilt as compared to men. At the core of it all is guilt. Women need more support systems at work,” she said, in order to deal with life situations.
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