Women re-starters or rather women who have taken a break from the workforce bring about renewed energy. Find out how Neha Bagaria created JobsForHer to spur women in India to re-join the workforce.
According to International Labour Organization’s World Employment Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2018 – Global Snapshot, globally, the percentage of women participating in the labour force is declining. In 2018, women’s labour force participation rate stood at 48.5 per cent, a decrease from 51.4 per cent in 1990. In India, women’s labour force participation rate has fallen from 35.1 per cent in 1990 to 27.2 per cent in 2017 as mentioned in World Bank, Labor Force Participation Rate, Female (% of Female Population Ages 15+ (Modeled ILO Estimate), India, The World Bank Databank (2018).
‘So, the pipeline for women in India, is smaller, to begin with, right off the bat when they graduate from college. Girls may be scaling new heights consistently in their studies, but this does not extend to their participation in the workforce. It all begins with the severe disadvantages that female children in India are faced with, which multiplies as they grow into women,’ says Neha Bagaria, founder of JobsForHer.
The reasons that have kept women out of the workforce in India are varied and complex. According to an online survey conducted by JobsForHer, access to childcare was the biggest challenge faced by women when returning to the workforce (38 per cent), followed by low self-confidence (21 per cent), outdated skill sets (19 per cent), family biases (15 per cent), and lack of women-friendly company policies (8 per cent).
JobsForHer and its Beginnings
‘Over the 3.6 years of my career break, a lot of frustration had started to seep in. I felt like I had become a person I didn’t recognise anymore and realised that to be a happy mother, I needed to be a happy person, and for me, that meant going back to work’, said the 37-year old Mumbai-born Neha. A graduate from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Neha is married with two children eased back to the working world by carving out a role on a part-time basis.
During this personal journey, she became aware of the various difficulties a woman faces in order to re-enter the workforce. Most of her female friends who were well educated, qualified and experienced lawyers, architects, engineers, MBA holders, were stepping out of their careers and not returning to the workforce. When she started delving into the reasons behind this female brain drain, it became clear that women face many re-entry challenges that need to be addressed in India. These range from requiring flexibility, regaining confidence and re-skilling, overcoming biases and changing mindsets.
She then became committed to the cause of enabling women to restart their careers, thus founding JobsForHer on International Women’s Day in 2015.
Women Re-starters in the Workforce
Women returning to the workforce after a career break offer a valuable resource to employers, plugging the skills gap and boosting diversity. They bring renewed energy, experience and a whole lot of unique life skill like multitasking, teamwork, patience and endurance which are invaluable in today’s workforce.
Aimed at arming women re-starters, JobsForHer is an online connecting portal for women to enable them to start, restart and rise in their careers. Besides getting them back in the workforce, it also bridges the gap through career-related services such as mentorship, resume-writing assistance, second career counselling, confidence building workshops, upgrading skills and networking opportunities to enable them to successfully start, restart and rise in the workforce using technology.
The re-skilling function at JobsForHer currently has about 300 partners that provide a plethora of online services such as resume writing, interview, and soft skills training, confidence building workshops as well as training in soft and hard skills in fields like IT, Marketing and many more. In addition to this, the online Mentorship Board provides multiple sources of expertise from 500 plus mentors drawn from varied field’s eager to point women in the right direction to meet the many challenges they face during their break.
Reaching Women through Social Media
At JobsForHer, the online medium is crucial for reach and scalability. Almost less than a million monthly visitors visit the portal and they have a social media reach of 15 million women via Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. They post jobs, re-skilling courses, inspirational content, conduct live expert chats on Facebook, which is interactive and engages the audience.
They also conduct regular Tweet Chats on Twitter, which is an engaging social media activity, amongst the B2B (Business to Business) community and they found it to be one of the best ways to turn followers into brand advocates. LinkedIn also has been a valuable resource in helping JobsForHer connects strategically with the business community.
SMEs are often bootstrapped and lack big budgets for marketing campaigns. Hence, to expand their market reach, the biggest benefit for startups and SMEs is that with online marketing their reach isn’t just local but worldwide. ‘At JobsForHer, we’re catering to women across the country and thus with online marketing, we can reach out to women from different cities. Furthermore, we can tailor a campaign to specific audience demographics, such as gender, location, age and interests. Our resume writing campaigns, diversity and volunteer drives manage to get highly relevant candidates for different job openings’, adds Neha.
Diversity in the Workforce
A diverse workforce in an organisation with an inclusive culture makes an organisation more innovative, agile and attuned to the needs of customers. Overall productivity and employee satisfaction improve, which in turn improves the bottom line and revenue. Women board directors directly impact the number of women hired in line positions and middle management roles within the company, thus directly impacting the company’s diversity quotient.
A McKinsey Report on Delivering through Diversity (2017) mentions that companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology recently published a paper called The Case for Investing in Women detailing the huge difference that women make in the workforce. One of their findings is that in Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors, the return on invested capital jumped over 66 per cent, return on sales went up 42 per cent, and return on equity increased by 53 per cent.
Women have proved themselves time and again, demonstrating loyalty, commitment, soft skills like punctuality, flexibility and good communication; they handle negotiation different from their male counterparts, naturally seeking affinity, common ground and consensus.
Photos by rawpixel from Pixabay and by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.