Nearly 7 out of 10 working women in India resigned, or are contemplating quitting their jobs, in 2022. The reason: rigid working hours. India’s working women who had to bear the brunt of pay cuts, bias and exclusion due to their demand for flexible working hours and career breaks, preferred to resign rather than work in an inflexible workplace environment this year.
According to the consumer research report released by the online professional network LinkedIn, on the challenges faced by women at work, women have admitted that they had to pay a heavy price like pay cuts, bias and exclusion for wanting to work flexibly amid the pandemic.
The LinkedIn study, for which 2,226 women were interviewed, showed that employers had a poor view towards flexible working hours and career breaks. But, after the pandemic, the research showed that a sizable 83 per cent, i.e., 8 out of 10 working women, realised they wanted to work more flexibly. And, if they are not being offered that facility, a significant 72 per cent of working women turned their backs on jobs. (According to some experts, this applies to a lot of young professional as well.)
In fact, the study said that 70 per cent of working women have already quit or considered quitting their jobs because they weren’t offered the right flexible policies.
What makes flexible hours attractive
The reasons women like flexible working hours are: it improves their work-life balance (43 per cent felt that); and it helps them to progress in their careers (43 per cent). One in three of the women interviewed, or 34 per cent, felt that it helped their mental health and 33 per cent felt that it improved their chances of proactively staying on in their current jobs.
However, women paid dearly for this need to work flexibly, it seems. To be able to work flexible hours, 88 per cent of working women had to take a pay cut, 37 per cent had their flexible working request denied, and 27 per cent struggled to convince their bosses to accept their request. This reluctance towards flexible working hours has made women shy away from asking for it because they fear being excluded by their superiors, not given promotions, forced to work overtime and take pay cuts, and in short, treated in an unfair manner by their superiors.
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The social stigma around flexible policies has made working women in India refrain from telling their clients, colleagues and friends as well that they work flexibly.
Juggling careers and personal life takes its toll on women. So, four of five (78 per cent) working women in India are taking career breaks to bolster their well-being, plan career changes, and increase their confidence at work. With nine of 10 working women using their time off to learn new hard and soft skills, career breaks are helping them upskill and boost their employability in today’s competitive job market.
Career breaks and sabbaticals are not what they are cracked out to be. Four of every five (77 per cent) working women in India who took a break say that it had actually set them back in their careers. Many opt to exclude career breaks from their CVs (42 per cent) or lie about their breaks to potential recruiters when being interviewed (35 per cent). Hence, 80 per cent of India’s working women wish for ways that would help them represent their career breaks more positively to hiring managers.
Experts however have said that employers need to take lessons from the pandemic and provide flexible working models to catalyse a ‘new norm’ for women at workplaces.