Anupama Ranade, joint general manager and head of corporate credit risk at ICICI Bank, has stuck to her first job for more than 20 years. With good reason.
A few years ago, when she was heading general banking operations, her husband was posted abroad for three years. She had two children to look after, and staying away from her husband or working from a remote location, were not feasible. With the bank’s support, Ranade went on a two-year sabbatical. She joined work in 2010 at the same level she had left the bank at, and a year later, received a promotion. “All women face this dilemma. You have family commitments and at the same time, you have studied and worked on your career. It’s a respite that the organisation will take care of you,” she says.
Ranade belongs to the select few organisations that offer employees such leave options. All the same, the hypercompetitive world of banking is increasingly recognising the importance of retaining female talent, in particular those who lose the most productive years of their lives to family commitments.
“Childbirth and childcare are the biggest career obstacles a woman between 28 and 35 years of age goes through. Organisations should be able to support women in these critical phases, else everything they do is lip service,” says K Ramkumar, executive director, ICICI Bank.
ICICI Bank provides its employees a unique leave basket: Six months of paid maternity leave that can be extended by taking leave without pay on a need basis; 36 days of paid child care leave each year for mothers or single fathers till the child attains the age of 2 years and 180 days of leave for employees undergoing fertility treatment.
Besides these, women employees and single fathers get six days of paid leave each year to support an adoptive parent. Those who take sabbaticals can return to work even after two years. The bank offers leave or flexible work options when an employee’s child is taking the Standard 10 and 12 exams.
For its part, Citi India has a unique ‘Flexible Maternity Policy’, where women officers are entitled to avail of maternity leave of 180 days in three different options. Women officers can either avail of leave continuously for six months or exercise flexibility in the leave duration by opting for four months and the subsequent two months in tranches.
The bank also makes sure new mothers secure their performance ratings during maternity leave. “Ratings are critical for promotions. They help reduce potential unconscious or other biases that come in the way of providing women an objective rating for the targets achieved during the period of work in a year,” says Anuranjita Kumar, country HR officer.
Besides Citi and ICICI, a clutch of big global banks aim leave initiatives and policies specifically at new mothers. At HSBC India, women are entitled to fully-paid maternity leave of six months. Additionally, maternity leave can be combined with privilege leave of 25 working days. Women employees can also request for leave without pay for up to four months, on approvals by their business heads. The bank is now exploring a maternity cover option, where for the duration that the new mother is away, a temporary replacement is found either through short-term attachments or fixed-term contracts. On returning, the employee can resume in the same role.
“Going on long leave can sometimes create challenges of safeguarding an existing role, given the long time an individual is away from work. The maternity cover option is being explored to manage this challenge,”says Vikram Tandon, head ofHR at HSBC.
The bank has also recently introduced ‘post-maternity transition’. A month prior to joining, a certified counsellor establishes contact with the new mother to understand her state of mind as she readies to come back to work. This is followed by a post-joining group counselling session held between 60 and 90 days of joining, focused on enabling development of a support group of new parents. The session explores how to effectively manage the dual priorities of work and family. Their onboarding programme, ‘Mothers on Board’, provides a work buddy to the new mother along with IT support.
At Standard Chartered Bank, women constitute about 30% of the overall workforce. Apart from six months’ maternity leave, the bank offers sabbaticals and day care centres called ‘Colours of Joy’ across New Delhi and Mumbai.
The policies have been laid out keeping future talent needs in mind. “To reap the benefits of acquiring best in class talent, an investment needs to be made in their development and engagement,” says Madhavi Lall, head of employee relations.
Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 18/06/2013
Writer: SAUMYA BHATTACHARYA & ANUMEHA CHATURVEDI