Career 2.0 is a redefining moment in the lives of many women. It is life-changing. It was meant to be so at least till March 2020, but then the lock-down happened in India, and some other parts of the world as well, and circumstances changed overnight. The planned initiatives of large corporates for career 2.0 hiring hit a roadblock. People lost jobs in large numbers worldwide. In India, we have closures of businesses, retrenchment, salary cuts, and job losses, like never before.
Organizations were compelled to think deep and hard. Work-from-home became the new norm. Companies sponsored furniture and required infrastructure for employees working from home; some even shared electricity bills; some provided the IT infrastructure; some gave bonuses and perks for managing stress, family life, etc. And here we are, in a situation where employees have mingled their work life and their home life as one. The drawing room is the workroom, and the bed is often the cubicle at the office especially for programmers.
Career 2.0 is not a myth. It is not an impossible feat to achieve. It is more of a change of perspective. Aligning one’s thoughts to the new normal of a changing world. Irrespective of age, women can be hired in this new normal. For instance, a friend of mine in her mid-40s works as a virtual assistant for some companies, and she manages the role of a secretary to absolute perfection. She doubles up as a ghost-writer too, all the while managing her home, her two college kids, and her mother.
We have had a banking client who specifically wanted women on a career break for some of their middle management positions. We have had a global real estate investment company looking at hiring women who have been on a break. Godrej, Genpact, Tata Group, Mahindra Group are just some of the large organizations that are actively exploring career 2.0.
The pandemic threw up some statistics of late. For instance: according to a popular job portal there are 75,603 women from accounts, tax, audit, and IT (mostly), who have been searching for a job, between April and June 2020. Likewise, there are 473 women PR and marketing professionals in need of a job in the same quarter. 304 secretaries are looking for a job at the same time; and 362 front office executives and receptionists are trying for a job too between April and June 2020. These numbers are just partial statistics of the crisis staring at our faces.
Of course, there are many instances of women being hired during the pandemic for a variety of jobs which could be done from home. Content writing, tech support, coding, tutoring, public relations, and many more roles including some senior management roles have seen movements during the first quarter of FY 2020-2021. Yes, those have been not as much as they would have been in normal circumstances, but it did happen. Someone I know of joined in a senior HR role at one of the leading private hospitals in Mumbai.
In a recent publication in the New York Times by Paul Krugman dated 6th Aug 2020 there is a hint of a much larger recession that the United States of America is staring at than the one it is in right now. A large part of our Indian businesses are closely linked with American businesses and there is a possibility of career 2.0 aspirants being hit by this larger recession that is staring at us. Of course, if we go by frugality and aspire for developing home-grown initiatives and ideas we may probably survive the onslaught of any recession.
Few businesses won’t go bust. Of course, courage and conviction are required to start on one’s own. Food delivery, healthcare support, medical aid, teaching online, writing, learning some new skills, are just some of the things that aspirants for career 2.0 can work on. Offbeat careers like online dance training, online cookery sessions, online therapies of some form, online language classes, all have takers globally as long as affordability is the key.
I refuse to accept recession as the end-all for everything in life. Every challenge also brings with it a fair share of opportunities. We just need to look around and explore it real deep. We also need to believe in ourselves and not be influenced by what others may think or say.