Beyond the “Work Life Balance”
In a recent article in the Financial Times (London), Amy Kasmin wrote that only 27% of the women worked in India v/s 81% in other Asian countries. India also had the lowest ratio of educated women in fulltime employment. In part, this was because men in Asia, and in particularly in India, see it as a status symbol to have their wife’s stay at home – to look after the home, kids and /or in-laws. And in part, because parents see the society as a threat, because of the recent aggravated reporting about crimes against women. Hence, the easy answer is to keep them home !
This has two impacts. One, you are taking out a highly productive resource from the economy, thus retarding the country’s growth – and in turn the family’s growth too. Two, men for the wrong reasons have to work harder and longer to keep up with the wants of the family and are unable to participate in the growing up of their children – the future of any country. India is just one example. This is common in many countries, whereas India may be an extreme.
Progressive societies, and therefore companies/organisations in these countries have realised that helping employees manage a work life balance in the long term is good for the company’s productivity and growth. Employers offer flexible working hours, where results are outcome based and employees take ownership of their deliverables, and therefore determine the time they spend in office or working from home. Google, Microsoft and other technology companies, including non-technology companies are making the work environment heathier, by providing employees facilities and amenities, such as subsidised meals, gyms on the premises, healthcare plans, etc.
India has a peculiar problem. None of the work life balance perks offered by employers will change the majority of the parent’s mind-set to let their daughter out into the open world to go and work, because this still requires women to go out of their homes.
Every responsible business has set-up through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, programmes that will make a difference to society in which they work, but a large majority of these programmes still do not allow women to work from home !.
We at Expense on Demand (www.expenseondemand.com) and Solo Expenses (www.expenseondemand.com) are experimenting with technology and ideas, and collaborating with large enterprises to “take” work to the homes of people. Not only does this includes such women, but also includes war veterans, who have lost the availability of their limbs and feel challenged in the open world. This also includes people, typically over 55 years, who are unable to find gainful employment, because of age or are retired, but have the experience and willingness to work.
The idea here is to provide a balance in life, so that the person can re-claim their self-esteem and help others he or she lives with to manage a better work life balance.