The five-year policy, which also includes women in factories, covers key life stages of motherhood – pre-childbirth (1 year), maternity (1 year), and post-maternity (3 years).
The auto major says the objective is to partner with women employees end-to-end in these critical points of their motherhood journey so that they can care for their families while continuing to retain and grow in their careers.
Ruzbeh Irani, president, group HR, Mahindra Group, told TOI: ” It’s not only about bringing in gender diversity but also about retaining gender diversity and making women feel that they don’t have to make a choice between their careers and their family life. Based on what we have learnt from listening to our women employees across levels, it was decided to adopt a more holistic view of this, by taking a five-year horizon.”
Among other aspects, what’s unique about the programme is the 3-year post-childbirth support at work, which includes 6 months of flexible work and 24-month hybrid work option from the base location, if the nature of work/role permits, and with approval of the manager. For critical work-related overnight domestic travel, women employees can travel with their child (up to 2 years of age) along with a caregiver.
Women’s representation at M&M is 8%, which is currently in line with the automobile sector. Asha Kharga, EVP, chief customer & brand officer, Mahindra Group, said the intent behind the 5-year programme is to attract female talent.
In the manufacturing sector, data from ‘Avtar & Seramount 100 best companies for women in India’ shows that phase-back post maternity leave (including work flexibility) is provided by seven of 11 companies. While the average duration is 2.4 months, the maximum that any company in manufacturing offers is three months. In comparison, M&M’s new policy is the best so far.
Saundarya Rajesh, founder – president, Avtar Group, said: “Flexibility is the oxygen of women’s careers. And in the case of returning mothers, it makes all the difference between a woman who decides to stay employed and one who decides to quit. M&M’s post-maternity hybrid work model is a game changer and one that can contribute to the reframing of manufacturing as a woman-friendly industry.”
Given that a majority of women cut short their careers post-childbirth, several companies have designed their policies around offering flexibility to retain women employees. Tata Sons was among the first to frame policies around various life stages of women. In addition to 18 months of half-pay half working day post-maternity support, Tata Sons offers flexibility to women to choose their working hours. Those who complete five years in service can take a year’s leave for various caregiving responsibilities.