Call them comeback queens – they managed to return even stronger after their career breaks
According to a recent Catalyst report, 140 women held 12.4% of board seats and just 3.2% of board chairs in 2017 a figure that can only be explained by corporate India’s inability to help women strike a work-life balance, and their failure to tap into the talent pool of women who are ready to return to the workforce after a career break.
Whether the break is voluntary or induced, working women often confess to being greeted by stigma and non-acceptance on the other side of their breaks. “When I returned after my short break- there were some sceptics in the system for the first couple of weeks. The only antidote to all this is – to be excellent at what you do and ignore the rest of the noise” says Vaishali Kasture, the CEO of Experian India.
Kasture’s says planning your break meticulously and staying in touch with your network during your time off is key to a smooth transition back. Lastly, she says it is crucial to not lose a sense of self, continue to work on personal goals during your down-time. “Staying current, being well-read and well-prepared will go a long way. I used the time to enhance my skills and follow my passion – I learnt bridge, and even took a course in journalism.”
For a seamless switch while juggling work and motherhood after your break, Anjali Srivastava, a college professor who now helms an online repository of the complete admissions’ information of every school in Delhi NCR, says, “Knowing your priorities, no matter what order they are in, helps – as you can work backwards from that in creating the necessary support system. I planned my day meticulously. Something as mundane as my child’s nap time also needed to be scheduled in a way that I could utilise it for a call,” she cautions.
Needless to say, in India, if you’re in the corporate world, and if you’re a woman, “life changes post pregnancy,” Meghna Kamdar, a banker-turned-YouTube baker with a following of 3 million, informs us. She dropped out of the race when she had her daughter, because she was born with certain complications “After being fat-shamed by my peers, developing dark circles due to lack of sleep, being alone with the child for most part of the day, in a new city like Mumbai – I slipped into severe depression. My identity and sense of purpose was now gone. I learnt that you have to stop comparing your life to someone else’s, or even your own past life. That is the fastest route to self-pity and despair, the stark contrast will make things seem worse than they are. I groomed myself, brought my health back on track, lost 20 kgs, learnt how to speak in front of the mirror and finally, decided to invest in myself and my business. During long breaks, women lose confidence in their abilities and skills. But the idea of a modern Indian woman, today, is centred on reinvention and improvisation. You have to make the most of what you have – and you have to ask for more,” she says, signing off.