By Arundhati Ramanathan Mint, New Delhi.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While many companies are struggling with how to retain women in the workforce, one bank in India is taking concrete steps to assist women in business. ICICI Bank has announced it will allow its female employees to work from home for up to a year after giving birth....and that is just a start.
ICICI Bank Ltd is leaving no stone unturned for retaining its women. In its latest initiative, the bank said it will allow its 21,000 women to work from home for up to a year and even take their children and care-giver on business trips, in a move to retain talent.
The country's largest private bank, which is headed by a woman, has about 70,000 employees, 30% of whom are women.
Two years ago, the bank conducted a survey among its women employees who left the bank and nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they quit their job because of child care responsibilities, and long commutes, said the bank's spokesperson.
Recognizing this problem, it rolled out its [email protected] initiative on a pilot basis a few weeks ago and while the program will enable employees to work from home for up to a year initially, it can be further extended, said the bank.
However, some experts feel this initiative should have been rolled out to both men and women.
"It is not a great idea to make this available only to women. It reinforces the stereotype that it is women's duty to take care of the child," said Shachi Irde, executive director, Catalyst India WRC, a not-for-profit which works towards extending opportunities for women and businesses.
Moreover, she added, one does not always feels the need to work from home. "There are specific days and time when you need it," she said.
Many companies this year increased the maternity leave option from three to six months, and also allowed work from home options, but few allowed a year.
The bank is giving women access to their required operating systems to help them work from home. This includes a facial recognition technology to ensure that no one can impersonate the employee and get access to its applications. The technology platform for this has been developed in-house by ICICI Bank in partnership with students from IIT, Delhi.