More married women opt for foreign stints
Posted on March 9, 2012
MUMBAI/BANGALORE: More and more married Indian women are doing what would have been unthinkable not too long ago – grabbing opportunities to work abroad for advancing their career, leaving behind their husband and kids at home. And these are not the top CXO-level jobs. The change is now palpable among middle-level women executives, who are ready to take bold decisions not constricted by “traditional duties” of a married woman.
“Many career women are willing to take such relocations. A supportive spouse and an extended family make this move a little easier,” says techie Anita Chandran, who left her husband and a twoyear-old son in the hands of her parents in Bangalore to take up a posting in London. Her son is now four years old and her husband works for another IT company in Bangalore. “Twice a year, we spend one month with each together in Bangalore and then in London,” she says.
The trend is being increasingly seen in the IT, IT-services and consulting firms, which give employees, both men and women, opportunities to work abroad. And, these companies say married women today are more ready than ever before to latch on to such offers. Ajith Kumar, senior director of global HR at UST Global, a Californiabased IT services firm, says requests from women for overseas postings are on the rise. “We are in fact seeing a trend reversal where men want to come back home, while women want to leave home to take up overseas assignments,” he adds.
To help these aspiring women, companies have well laid-down mobility policies. Ground support like getting employees driving licences, insurance, bank accounts and accommodation is arranged for. Personal safety was another key concern that kept women away from overseas career options. But today companies offer them a safe transition. “Women are aware that global exposure is key to career success. Therefore, relocation is an unavoidable element if you want to make it big in your career,” says Srimathi Shivshankar, AVP, diversity and sustainability, HCL Technologies, an IT services company.
HR experts and head hunters say this attitudinal change is bound to create more opportunities at the top for women. “This will help create more women CEOs. When a woman takes up such roles despite being in a marriage, it reassures employers on putting more faith in them and giving them a chance at leadership roles,” says K Sudarshan, managing partner-India at a global executive search firm, EMA Partners.
“Professionally, it has taken me two steps ahead within a year,” says Bharati Mohan Vilkhoo, who for the past year has been at Boston, US, working for a multinational IT consulting firm. “Today, I am getting better offers because people know that my marriage does not get in way of my professional life. I have balanced both and will continue doing so.”
Companies say the willingness of women to relocate for work is a direct fallout of more women being a part of the workforce. Since the launch of a diversity drive WoW (women of Wipro) in 2008, the share of women in the workforce of the country’s leading software outsourcing company, Wipro, moved up from 26% to 30%.
“We manage a threephased life stage for women employees, focusing on exposure to start with, then flexibility once the women are married and have families, and finally empowerment, by helping them grow in the profession to become leaders. Translocation postings are a part of this,” says Sunita R Cherian, VP-HR (diversity,) Wipro Technologies.
Despite an increasing number of Indian married women asserting their independence by taking up foreign assignments, there are as many who take a backseat post marriage, say experts. “There are still many women who opt out of the race at a certain point in their career to concentrate on their families,” says EMA Partner’s Sudarshan.
Says Priya Saini, 28, who relocated to Singapore last year to work with an MNC, “For women, it is a way to express independence and say that women are equally serious about their careers as men, irrespective of their marital status. I have seen several women from other countries, married or in a relationship, who have moved to Singapore for a career opportunity and their partners or husbands have moved with them and then looked for a job here.”
Samidha Sharma & Mini Joseph Tejaswi
8 Mar 2012