Mindtree's Head of Diversity Talks About Women on a Career Break

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  • 23 Aug 2016


Mindtree's Head of Sustainability & Diversity, Chitra Byregowda, gave us on the button advice for women coming off of a career-break. If you're looking at a second career in this, one of India's most employee-friendly companies, then you should keep reading!

1. What do you feel women returning to work after a break bring to the table that a millennial employee can’t or doesn’t?

Women returning to work after a break bring to the table more experience and expertise because of their work experience or knowledge they possess compared to a millennial employee. They can also tackle tough situations or situations which are in crisis, as compared to a fresher. They can easily multitask and can adjust to a new environment at a quick pace.

2. Where have you found these women need the most upskilling in and why?

With the evolving times, where change is the only constant, Women returning to their careers need to be in pace with their surroundings, technology which is again very specific to various professions, Which ever profession she is in she needs to be updated with the skills that are specific to her which will help her progress in her career quickly, and which will help her return to work.

3. What is the motivation behind Mind tree’s existing Diversity & Inclusion policies? Can you tell us about one of the success stories that you've had with this?


Every individual who is a part of Mindtree is referred to as a ‘Mindtree Mind’.

Recognizing Mindtree Minds as people and not resources is the first step taken by us to build a culture that advocates appreciation, respect and recognition. Even the Human Resource team is known as ‘People Function’, which affirms that we do not refer to our employees as resources, rather make them a valuable part of the organization.

Diversity & Inclusion is an issue we identify as highly critical where, despite our historically good performance; we feel the need to go still further. Our thinking over the last year has evolved into a specific push for gender diversity – right from the talent acquisition stage. We believe talent acquisition strategies play a crucial role in ensuring diversity and inclusion in a way that will enrich the organization’s performance. The strategy is not only designed for attracting the right talent but also to meet the specific thrusts on diversity.

Embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce gives us an innovative, creative, competitive and more productive edge. Our inclusion framework is driven by our reasonable accommodation policy. Our growth and expansion overseas provides us with a platform to generate local employment and capitalize on a talent pool of diverse nationals. 

Below is one of our success stories.

4. What compelled you to take part in the JobsForHer Diversity Drive 2.0?

JFH has been a pioneer in championing return-to-work women talent employment and employability. Considering that there is a steep drop of women talent as the ranks progress, the JFH platform offers a unique opportunity to connect experienced women-on-break talent and companies. We are excited about the possibilities this can bring for their members and our business. Partnering for Drive 2.0 is a step in that direction.

5. What are you looking for in women who are restarting their careers?

RIGHT ATTITUDE Whatever the reason-  family, health or education - an applicant who has taken a career break makes recruiters apprehensive even if one manages to convince them about their ability. So, one must be prepared to explain the reasons for the break. 

ANALYSING THIER APPETITE Before the HR manager puts this question to you, ask yourself: Why do I want to work again? Unless you are doing it for financial reasons, the first step should be a analyse of your decision to return to the workforce. Much would have changed since you left. At this stage, analyse what you are capable of handling. This is crucial if you had quit due to personal responsibilities.

KEEPING UP TO DATE Employers want people who are abreast of the latest trends related to work. Therefore, stay updated during the break. The traditional ways to brush up skills and knowledge, books, magazines and courses help. However, staying in the field through freelance work is best.

NETWORKING Keep in touch with old colleagues and employers. Networking will help you search for an appropriate opening or get good references that can increase your chances of getting selected in a job interview. Keep in touch with old colleagues and employers. Networking will help you search for an appropriate opening or get good references that can increase your chances of getting selected in a job interview.

FLEXIBILITY You are at a disadvantage at this stage and, so, being flexible will help. Salary, for one, should not be a big deciding factor.

6. What would be your advice to a woman looking to restart her career?

1) Find a mentor and/or a sponsor. These can be two different people as the roles are quite separate. A sponsor should be someone with influence over senior decision makers who will champion your career progression in the organization while a mentor would coach and guide you on a regular basis with everyday challenges. A mentor could act a sponsor as well, but they aren’t always and don’t need to be the same person.

2) Raise your visibility. The point about choosing a sponsor is one way to do this, choosing the right projects to be involved in (point 3) is another way and participating in networking events, when you can, is also really good value.

3) Choose projects that have the 3 Is: Impact, Importance and Influence. This will help you make a mark quickly, it will help you demonstrate success in areas that are visible and will work toward reminding you of what an important asset you are to the organizations.

4) Decide on your boundaries before returning and stick to them, even if it means blocking out time in your calendar for commitments outside of work.

5) Don’t make excuses. Coming back after leave often renews people’s sense of priorities. Whatever those priorities are, you shouldn’t feel you need to explain or defend them. If you can’t make an 18:30 meeting, empower yourself to say “I have a conflict” and not feel obligated to explain what that conflict is.

6) Take time to reflect on your achievements without attaching them to preconceived timescales. Making that next career jump should be dependent solely on your individual time frame, not the time frame others did it in or think you should do it in. Careers don’t necessarily progress in a linear way or a consistent speed. There is quite often a series of climbs and plateaus and there is nothing wrong with that.

7) Trust your instincts. One of the most highly underrated business skills but by far one of the most valuable is the ability to listen to your gut feeling! Trust it and act on it! This can (sometimes) be a distinct advantage women in business have- a strong instinct. We have to learn to trust our instincts.

8) Make time for yourself. If you were on leave for parental, family or caring responsibilities chances are you feel that taking care of yourself is low on the list of priorities. It’s not. It’s top of the list. Think of the oxygen mask analogy on planes. You cannot be of use to others if you are not whole and functioning on your own. Carve the time out where you can and make it a priority every day. It might be a five minute walk from the train to the office, it might be listening to positive audio books in the car or participating in your favorite hobby each day-whatever it is no one will make it happen for you.

9) Keep the lines of communication open with your employer, boss and team about when you are available and when you are not. Setting clear expectations up front will help your employer know what to expect from you as well as people outside of work who may be depending on you. Many companies also allow you to keep in touch when you are on leave. These “keep in touch days” are a great way to remain close to the business and stay abreast of changes and movements.

10) Work with what you’ve got: taking lemons and making lemonade. Find your solution before you let an issue become a problem. Learn to make the best of what you have.

To work in a company that grows and develops women like Chitra, at every level, FOLLOW MINDTREE today, APPLY to their jobs, and UPLOAD your RESUME, today! 

Jobs at Mindtree:

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Didn't find a job role that suits you? Don't worry, FOLLOW Mindtree and UPLOAD your RESUME to receive first-hand alerts on all the new jobs being posted and learn about how women-friendly they are HERE.


[EXPERT CHAT with CHITRA BYREGOWDA - Head, Sustainability & Diversity, MINDTREE on Friday, SEPTEMBER 2nd!]

Chitra Byregowda, currently heads the Mindtree’s Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion, health and wellbeing initiatives globally.

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