WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION – Pregnancy Continues to be a Curse for Women in Corporate India

A handful of companies in India are doing their bit in retaining and motivating women workforce during the most important phase in the life of a woman. It may be the Vahini program, Employee Assistance Programme, Parents at work Programme of Accenture or Stock Parking, Daycare Support Program at Flipkart, Mums at Work Program at KPMG or Extended maternity Leaves at Adobe.

At the same time, there are many reputed organisations in India where women employees have to face discrimination either when they announce about their pregnancy or when they come back post maternity.

Suheli (name changed), an employee of Oracle was on her fifth month of pregnancy, who also had a facility  to work from home as part a part of the company policy was denied of such benefit by her lady boss aged 45 years. Not only this, she was pressurised in such a way at workplace which almost hinted her to put her papers down.


Anjali Bhushan says her company wanted her to resume work immediately after having her baby: BBC News.

Promotions get denied to women who go on maternity leave since promotions are performance based and not tenure based and in such case a women’s maternity leave often gets recorded as no performance

Organizations become completely insensitive to the needs of the employee. The supervisors aim at the overall team’s performance sacrificing an individual’s sentiment and hard work put before the maternity period.

Monali( name changed) an employee from one of the leading groups of TATA worked for more than decade in the organisation. She has put her complete tenure in improving the process and streamlined many deliverables. In fact she was rated in “A” category in her last appraisal. When she went for maternity leave of 3 months, a substitute employee was called in. Eventually the company policy changed the maternity policy to 6 months due to which her leaves also extended. One day she gets a call from her boss stating that her KRA’s (major responsibilities) have been handed over to that substitute employee and she has to manage with some minor work in the department which is negligible. More over those responsibilities that were planned to be given to her post maternity were sky-breaking in nature. Such responsibilities couldn’t be achieved earlier by any of the team members. This clearly reflects that she is no more required in the team. The employee is currently is traumatic state of mind.

Such level of insensitivity often comes in the form of indirect pressure and changes in the attitude of the employer both before and after the maternity leave. Most companies do not provide a crèche facility or flexible working hours forcing women to choose between career and family.

Tuhina(name changed), an employee from a leading group of Hospitals based out of Bangalore, was said “Why don’t you go on a break and resume after your delivery? You look dull.” Can we imagine a reputed hospital based out of Bangalore behaves in such a manner?

Another employee from TCS has to literally struggle to take a half day leave from her boss for her kid’s vaccination. It seems she has taken so many days of leaves during maternity.

Majority of the educational institutions in Bangalore do not provide maternity leave. But it’s difficult to prove it on papers since the employees are told to resign voluntarily which closes the chapter. There have been cases when a seventh maternity woman has been told to take five to six hours of classes in a day where each class consists of one hour.


Swagatika Das lost her job at a university after she became pregnant , BBC News

Maternity Benefit Act allows a paid leave and job protection of three months for working women but the reality is different. India’s labour courts received more than 900 complaints of denial of maternity benefits by employers between 2008 and 2012. Most of the women when discriminated during or post maternity does not approach the legal system; rather they just stop continuing to work for the organisation.

Even BBC News Reported recently that “The problem is that working women go back to work after becoming mothers, they are given less responsibility and unimportant projects since they can’t stay for long hours. Companies start considering them the weakest link in the team.”

According to a 2013 World Bank study, only 27% of the female population aged over 15 is working in India. This is the lowest rate of women’s participation in any workforce among the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, with the highest in China at 64%.



“SELF FORMED TEAM – SFT” and “SELF MANAGED TEAM- SMT” –Unique Employee Engagement Practice

SELF MANAGED TEAM – Here Teams work without supervision. This is also called also called supervision-less system. It sounds surprising but it’s a fact.

RPG Group (Ceat/ Spencers) has come out with this concept. This concept was started by P&G, followed by DuPont and a few other organizations. Here they are trained and empowered to plan, review the gaps, brainstorms among them to identify the reason for gaps, take work place decisions & execute their day to day operations. This enables them to come out with the best possible ways to execute tasks. The accountability & responsibility of accomplishment of the tasks complete rests on the team members.

This practice was initiated at the CEAT Plant at Halol(Gujrat). It resulted in higher productivity & harmony among the employees.

SELF FORMED TEAM – Here a group of employees voluntarily comes ahead and forms a team for performing an activity/task. Here the employees have the freedom to form groups based on common interests. Facilitating such group formation increases social bonding and higher level of employee engagement.

Corporate Initiatives to form Self Formed Teams


Community development teams are there to generate awareness on safety, working mothers groups, and a self-formed cricket team. In fact a group of employees came together to modify a junkyard in the office premises and convert it into a sports arena


Several groups has been facilitated here where in employee come together to discuss/ brainstorm about various issues health & safety, employee facilities like transportation, canteen  & come out with better innovative solutions.

In fact a team has started Yoga Class where the objective is not only about the health but also a platform for cross functional employees meet aiming better collaboration at work.

Edelweiss Financial Services

Groups such as adventure club, running club and photography club has been initiated by the HR team where like-minded people can come together and engage in their hobbies and interests. The social networking site of the organization called PING also enables people with similar interests to come together, share and learn.


There are five councils: Community Service, Grey Cells – deals with quizzing and other intellectual interests), Sports, Personal Talent and Wellness.

HCL also has Interest Clubs, which are primarily online platforms for the employees with common interest to connect. There are eight such clubs: Clic – The Photography Club, The Foodies Club, The Pet Club, The Toastmasters Club, Library On Demand, HCL Record breakers, The Polyglots corner and Bikers’ Club. These clubs use the company’s internal social networking platform ‘MEME’ to bring together like-minded people who wish to share tips, pictures, and knowledge.


Self managed team

Standard Chartered Bank

This bank has a recreation club which organizes indoor game tournaments during the monsoon as well as hockey, cricket and football tournaments.


Nielsen has various clubs include Hit F5 (employee fun club), wellness club, dance club, and a soon-to-be-launched cooking club


Dell has a number of interest groups that are formed and run by the employee: the runners group, photography club, quizzing club, toastmasters club, cricket club and cycling club.


At Philips, the largest self-formed group is called JOSH: it drives small fun-at-work initiatives like quizzes. Employees have also formed interest groups like photographers club, trekking group, etc.


  • These groups gets employees to come out from the shell and have fun, create positive work environment which reflects a better engaged workforce.
  • It helps an organization to motivate employees without any huge investment
  • This enables employees to connect and establish strong social bonds with colleagues and develop team spirit.
  • The employees use such opportunity to express themselves, learn & exchange knowledge freely. The outcome is more connected, content & productive.
  • These initiatives keep the employee morale high & make them passionate about their work.
  • This encourages employees to break the monotony of work too.
  • Finally this results in higher level of employee engagement

LEADERSHIP MANUFACTURING UNITS – how leaders are made in today’s corporate world!

TATA group

TATA group emphasizes on in-house Leadership Development Programmes.

 Tata Leadership Seminars (TLS)

  • —Tata Group Strategic Leadership Seminar (TGSLS) – MDs, the CEOs, COOs and those with a potential to assume such roles in the Immediate / near future.
  • —Tata Group Executive Leadership Seminar – Senior management professionals, functional heads.
  • —Tata Group Emerging Leaders Seminar (TGeLS) – This is for high potential emerging leaders from middle levels of management ideally in the age group of 30 to 40


McD Mentoring– Every learner is assigned a coach at every step of development.

  • —Develop the employee skills
  • —Build their confidence and competence
  • —Career guidance for crew and managers
  • —Succession planning

McDonald’s Leadership Institute

  • —It develops critical leadership skills needed to address both long- and short-term business challenges.
  • —“Individual development plans,, map out leadership training in support of one’s performance and career goals.”
  • —Accelerated Leadership Development Programs – for high-potential directors and officers

Restaurant leadership training programme For Restaurant General managers

  • —Five-day programme from Hamburger University. Career guidance for crew and managers
  • —To apply leadership behaviors, lead their restaurant, and develop their department managers.


Infosys Leadership Institute

  • —It nurtures leaders and advances the field of leadership development. ILI works toward ensuring that Infosys has appropriate leaders to take on senior leadership positions as and when they arise
  • ILI ensures that Infosys has a pool of successful and ready leaders to build tomorrow’s enterprise.

 Areas Focused :

  • —Strategic Leadership
  • —Change/ Adversity Leadership
  • —Operational Leadership
  • —Talent Leadership
  • —Relationship/ Networking Leadership
  • —Content Leadership
  • —Entrepreneurial Leadership


Starbucks Leadership Lab

  • Impart leadership training, with a a problem-solving framework.
  • Demonstrations of new product, blend development, and customer service.
  • But what makes the Leadership Lab different than a typical corporate trade show is the production surrounding all of this. The lights, the music, and the dramatic big screens all help Starbucks marinate its store managers in its brand and culture. It’s theater–a concept that Starbucks itself is built

The Best companies for grooming leaders

  • IBM – The New York-headquartered technology company sends SWAT teams to coach their local staff.
  • General Mills – Fortune 500 company- primarily deals with food products – such as Pillsbury – over 90 per cent of management promotions are internal.
  • Procter & Gamble– Every chief executive at P&G started at the entry level in the company.
  • Aditya Birla Group – operates in over 33 countries, honours its employees who teach skills to villagers
  • Colgate-Palmolive – has a 7 -day Colgate Leadership Challenge in which junior employees work on a team business project, are taken through presentations by senior leaders, and do charity work.
  • Hindustan Unilever – sends young managers to live in Indian villages so that they can understand the needs of rural consumers.
  • ICICI Bank – assigns talent scouts to identify promising employees.
  • McDonald’s – has an officer development programme to train talent in finance, human resources and marketing
  • Whirlpool – has a set of senior executives who serve as “innovation mentors” who are tasked with evaluating business ideas.
  • PepsiCo – works on 10-year growth plans for individuals who the company believes have the potential climb high on the corporate ladder.
  • Bharti Airtel– The company has a reverse mentoring programme, in which junior employees tutor senior staff about new technology