It's a truism that women professionals face much more pressure than their male counterparts – the reason being women need to deal with work-related stress in addition to being there for the family. Recognising the fact that a significant number of women professionals put work and careers on hold to give priority to family and personal lives, the Tata Group came up with a unique scheme to tap this wide pool of latent talent.
The Second Career Internship Programme (SCIP) was launched on International Women's Day 8th March 2008 as a focused initiative aimed at easing women professionals back into the corporate fold.
The scheme targeted women with minimum four years of experience in functions such as HR, marketing, finance, legal, manufacturing etc, who had taken a career break ranging from 1 to 8 years. What made SCIP even more innovative in its approach was the fact that it dealt head on with the obstacles that loom large for women with families looking to re-enter career paths. The SCIP programme offered women flexible working hours, limited travel conditions and project based activities. It also included a six-month internship period as well as a mentor-and-buddy system that smoothens the entry and orientation phase into the organisation.
So well was the scheme received that nearly 2000 entries poured in when the programme was announced for Mumbai and Pune. A careful screening process whittled this down to 34 finalists who were selected for projects in several Tata companies.
The toughest challenge lay in matching candidates to projects. Says Lee Kheng Siang Elton, a student from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, who coordinated and managed SCIP as part of his responsibilities during the internship with the Tata Group, "Project allocation was tough. We had to keep in mind companies' requirements as well as the candidate's requirements. Family time was a high priority, so SCIP offered solutions such as flexi-time, work locations close to home, etc."
One such SCIP candidate is Priti Bal, currently interning with Tata AutoComp. Ms Bal, an MBA with HR experience who took a break of two years when her child was born, is very clear on what she finds attractive about SCIP: " I love the option of working part-time."
Another equally satisfied customer is Vidya Dasgupta, a chartered and cost accountant who is currently working on SAP – SIM implementation at Ginger hotels. She says," The experience has been tremendous. It always is better to work for a professional set up such as the Tata Group. Tata SCIP has given me an opportunity which I would not have been able to land on my own initiative."
Harini Iyer, who had spent over 8 years with ICICI Bank handling foreign exchange treasury, setting up the derivatives desk, and working in the market risk management and corporate finance cells, found herself spending time on issues such as what to cook for dinner. She was only too happy to use SCIP to test the corporate waters and is now engaged with finance projects for Tata Communications.
The overwhelming response to SCIP and the positive feedback from candidates and companies has reaffirmed the success of this unique HR initiative from the Tata Group.