In 2015, Urvi Aradhya, chief human resource officer at Inorbit Malls was having a routine conversation with Rhea (name changed), a mid-managerial employee in the architecture department, who was in her third month of pregnancy. At the time, most expectant mothers were dropping out of the workforce and the company wanted to know if they could prevent this.
During the course of their conversation, Rhea raised multiple issues. “Travelling by train and long hours at work was causing her feet to swell up,” notes Aradhya. In addition, Rhea was concerned about being disconnected from work during her maternity leave, and was also worried about taking care of her baby on resuming work. Evidently, these concerns were shared by most women.
Back then, the company had a few unstructured practices to support women. But after these conversations, it decided to have comprehensive and well-communicated policies to reassure expectant mothers, and formulated two key ones — Aanchal and Saheli.
While Aanchal provides additional transport allowance and flexible working hours, Saheli ensures that a woman employee on a maternity break is kept abreast of developments at work. The company also opened a crèche before it became the enforced norm under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 in 2017. “From thereon, we put together various policies and programmes ranging from training and leadership programmes to grievance redressal mechanisms and child care support,” says Aradhya.
Interestingly, Inorbit Malls is not the only one adopting women-friendly policies. Over the past few years, companies across industries — be it financial giants such as American Express and PayPal India or software majors such as Pegasystems and SAP Labs — have been investing in them.