With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and companies moving to the remote work model, the number of women employees leaving the IT sector came down by almost 50 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020, a new study has revealed.
The attrition decreased by nearly 40 per cent at the non-managerial level and by 20 per cent at the higher level like managerial and corporate executive positions.
Avtar shared the data, an organisation working on diversity and inclusion, based on research done with US-based professional services firm Seramount, and was shared with Moneycontrol. The study looked at the total attrition of women in the IT/ ITeS sector.
Increase In Total Woman Workforce
As per the 2021 report, women's participation in the workforce increased nearly 10 per cent between 2016 (25 per cent) and 2021 (34.5 per cent). Between 2020 and 2021, there is an increase of 4.34 per cent in the total women workforce.
Representation of women in the IT/ITes sector has risen from 31 per cent in 2020 to 32.3 per cent in 2021. Also, there has been a slight jump at managerial levels from 19 per cent in 2020 to 21 per cent in 2021.
In August 2020, mid-tier IT firm Hexaware Technologies was surveyed to understand the impact of working from home on women. The survey found that remote working had a negative impact on females in the workforce, who were more stressed due to pressures on both personal and professional fronts. Speaking with Moneycontrol, Hexaware CEO R Srikrishna had said that there is a twofold to threefold rise in the workload of women employees.
According to a March 2021 report, four out of 10 working women in India faced work-related stress due to remote work as they juggled their personal and professional roles.
Some executives and women employees had then pointed out that the pressure from both fronts could be a breaking point for them. Instead of increasing women's participation, it might do the opposite.
Urban Women To Benefit From Remote Work
Saundarya Rajesh, founder-president, Avtar Group, said, "We expect that the number of organisations that offer formalised remote working will rise, adding more remote work for women. Nearly 12 lakh urban women are expected to benefit from the remote work model."
Though the COVID-19 pandemic and the great resignation has affected women's workforce participation, there is an increasing demand for diverse talent in India Inc. "Remote working has gained unprecedented momentum with companies no longer restricting themselves to metro and tier 1 cities. One of the major trends we are witnessing is that companies are looking to get employees from towns and cities like Gulbarga, Hisar, Vijayawada," she added.
The IT companies are also taking steps to help get more women into the workforce.
Lower Attrition Rates
Meanwhile, Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice-president, Teamlease Services, said that the shift in work culture due to COVID-19 had created opportunities for many young women to enter the workforce. It offered flexibility to work from anywhere. This also meant attrition rates were lower.
"For decades, organisations have been struggling to tackle problems of gender diversity and the inclusion of women in the workplace. There are many initiatives and options that drive this change, slowly and surely. One of them is the diversity, equity, and inclusion policy," Chakraborty said.
Wipro chief culture officer and senior vice-president Sunita Cherian said that gender diversity in leadership roles has nearly doubled in the last 18 months. Besides, women now constitute more than 36 per cent of the IT giant's workforce. In addition, the company has offered flexible working options.
According to experts, remote and hybrid workplace models will continue to benefit more women amid the reopening of offices. "We witnessed many women opting out of their careers voluntarily to minimise the stress and anxiety caused outside of work, especially when the times were tough in all aspects — physical, mental, psychological," said Avtar's Rajesh.
Chakraborty stated that women are looking to break free from the routine of working from home and returning to office hence a hybrid work model is a way forward "for a win-win scenario." She further added that "companies are focusing on mental health in their return-to-office initiatives and cultivating an inclusive and flexible workplace will have a positive impact on the overall growth story."