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Wooing women back to the workforce

Prince Mathews Thomas | Updated on March 10, 2018

The hiatus is over! Many firms actively enable women to return to a career. (Sitting, extreme left) Subha Viswanathan

BL13_Women_initiatives

Once they have taken a break, women find it hard to re-enter the workforce. PayPal’s Recharge programme helps them get back



Subha Viswanathan’s first career break was in 2008. She had just been promoted as a team leader at a major technology company, but she decided to quit and take care of her two-year-old son. After a year-long hiatus, the software engineer got back to work as a senior software analyst. In 2013, she became the Lead Analyst. But again, a promotion was followed by a break. Her mother-in-law died, and Subha also had a second child. This time, the pause in her professional life was longer and lasted two years.

“I started going for job interviews, but realised that while looking after the children, I had lost track of what was happening in the industry,” says the 37-year-old. She felt left behind in the competitive job market.

Viswanathan is not alone in facing this situation. “We have seen that 41 per cent of women drop out mid-career,” says Guru Bhat, General Manager, Technology and Head of Engineering, PayPal. “At the same time, 90 per cent of the women who drop out want to come back to work,” says Bhat, who oversees the two technology centres the online payments provider has in Chennai and Bengaluru.

“But getting back to work has lots to do with confidence and you need to have gumption,” says Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, Director, Human Resources, PayPal.

Realising there were many Viswanathans out there in the market who were talented but unsure about how to get back to work, PayPal launched a programme named Recharge, aimed at re-launching women into the workforce.

In 2016, Subha joined PayPal’s first edition of Recharge. Launched in Chennai, it got 400 applications. About 100 of the applicants attended the launch in Chennai. The event helped them network with senior executives from PayPal and industry. “I picked up a lot of soft skills, ranging from how to update resumes to how to present myself in interviews,” says Viswanathan.

She was one of the 30 women who were then chosen to proceed to the next level – a boot camp for three weeks.

The camp focused on technology and business-oriented training to help the participants update themselves with the latest in the industry. By the end of the camp, 10 of them were offered positions in PayPal’s Chennai office. The rest went back with renewed hope and better equipped to re-enter the market.

Subha joined PayPal as a developer. She has flexible hours and can work from home and even brings her children to work, if necessary.

“This year, we are extending the programme to our Bengaluru centre,” Bhat said during the launch of the second edition of Recharge in Chennai. The company has received more than 1,000 applications.

“It is part of our effort to make the workplace more inclusive,” says Vaidyanathan, who too had taken a career break. This HR specialist came up with the idea for Recharge, which was later cleared by the headquarters in Palo Alto to be launched in the US and India. At present, 42 per cent of its workforce comprises women.

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Published on April 12, 2017
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