I stumbled upon this word recently and looked up Google to understand the meaning. According to Wikipedia, a Renaissance man or woman is a very clever person who is very good at many different things. There was a list of such people; interestingly only Rabindranath Tagore from India. And then I noticed there was not a single woman on the list; how disappointing! But that’s history, I consoled myself. The future is still in our hands.

‘Renaissance’ is such a beautiful term, it symbolizes the rebirth or revival of something beautiful. In a woman’s life, a Second career (after a break) is truly a renaissance. A number of large organizations offer Second Career programs to facilitate the re-entry of women into the corporate world. Such programs are normally structured to facilitate entry of experienced candidates who have taken a career break of a particular duration. This platform serves as an effective tool to build a culture of diversity and inclusion in the organization.

The many advantages to the returning women of such structured programs include:

– Tailored training to ensure smooth transition and to bring the women back on track from where they left

– Special sessions to boost confidence and develop soft skills

– Mentoring support from senior leaders

– The chance of joining in batches with similar other women

– Flexible work options which eases the come-back

Sometimes, it is not just the returning women who are trained, but also managers and peers are trained to create a culture of inclusion and acceptance within the organization. This would be an added advantage for women choosing this route, as a conducive mindset is set in the organization which would otherwise be difficult to expect. Such programs are also evolving based on feedback from earlier programs, current trends and industry best practices.

The Working Mothers & Avtar Best Companies for Women in India is an annual report that lists the Top 10 and Top 100 Best companies for women in India and talks about their women –friendly practices. In 2019, it was found that 54% of the companies featured in this list had formal second-career programmes. According to Avtar Group’s annual research report Viewport, about 45% of the second career women talent pool is willing to explore opportunities beyond their core domain. This could mean that they are flexible to change according to market dynamics or to embrace jobs that provide flexibility. The report also suggests that a good 69% of such women have upskilled themselves during the break to stay relevant and updated. These career-oriented women are constantly on the lookout for corporate returnship-enablers.

Below is a compilation of few of the Second Career programs offered by corporates in India:-

  1. Tata Second Career Inspiring Possibilities (SCIP), launched as early as 2008 provides multiple career options in varied disciplines across India. There are 3 formats- projects, consultant roles and full time roles to cater to the women’s flexibility requirements. (tatasecondcareer.com)
  2. Amazon Rekindle 2.0 launched early 2020 offers structured on-boarding, focused mentoring, flexible work options and on-the-job learning across tech and non-tech roles. (https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/rekindle)
  3. Accenture ranked as one of the Top 10 Best Companies for Women launched its Career Reboot programme in 2017 (https://www.accenture.com/in-en/careers/career-reboot)
  4. Capgemini Captivate welcomes women with minimum 3 years of experience who are on a career break of at least a year to apply for full time employment. (https://www.capgemini.com/in-en/2019/03/captivate-program/)
  5. Eaton – Relaunch 2.0 allows women who are citizens of India with minimum of 2 years of work experience and have taken a break of more than 6 months to apply for full-time opportunities across multiple domains. (http://www.eaton.in/EatonIN/OurCompany/EventsInitiatives/ReLaunch/Program/index.htm)
  6. IBM Tech Re-entry programme, a 6-month paid internship programme for returnees in Sales/Tech Sales was launched in 2019 provides opportunities to work on real projects. (https://www.ibm.com/in-en/employment/techreentry/)
  7. RBS launched a Comeback programme for women in 2016; a 12-week paid returnship program that also offers various flexible working models including work from home and reduced work hours. (https://india.jobs.rbs.com/posts/career-reintegration-the-importance-of-women-returnship-programs#:~:text=In%202016%2C%20as%20a%20part,opportunities%20to%20return%20to%20work.)
  8. Genpact Career 2.0 is a unique programme targeting qualified women who have taken a mid-career break and is meant to eventually feed the leadership pipeline at senior levels. The programme offers unique working models based on the requirements of the returning women. (https://www.genpact.com/insight/blog/making-a-comeback-with-career-2-0)
  9. Mahindra Logistics Udaan is a platform that offers full time employment opportunities to returning women professionals at all levels, functions and divisions. (https://www.mahindralogistics.com/blog-details/logistics-sector-growing-preference-of-millennials)
  10. Barclays Encore – 12 week paid fellowship programme provides opportunities to refresh skills through leadership and development training, mentorship and networking. Selected candidates may be offered permanent roles. (https://home.barclays/careers/our-programmes/encore/)
  11. Credit Suisse Real Returns is a paid 12-week programme that offers a smooth transition for talented senior professionals who are returning after an extended break. (https://www.credit-suisse.com/careers/en/career-opportunities/experienced-professionals/real-returns.html#:~:text=Our%20Real%20Returns%E2%84%A2%20Program,is%20both%20exciting%20and%20challenging)
  12. Thoughtworks Vapasi (for Developers and Quality Analysts) –4-week free certified technical training program in programming and testing skills with internship opportunities and job prospects for selected candidates. (https://www.thoughtworks.com/talktech/vapasi)
  13. Wells Fargo EGS – Glide Career continuity Program launched in 2017 is a 6- month highly customized programme for women with career breaks of two or more years. It offers gradual ramp up of work hours to full time work, customized trainings, peer reflections, leader connects, reviews in addition to hands-on work. (https://www.wellsfargojobs.com/Glide-Career-Continuity-Program#:~:text=Glide%20Career%20Continuity%20Program%20for,responsibilities%20that%20demand%20significant%20commitment)
  14. Paypal Recharge, launched in 2016 is a 6-week boot camp to empower women technologists.(https://www.paypal.com/in/webapps/mpp/jobs/recharge#:~:text=Recharge%20India,culture%20of%20diversity%20and%20inclusion)
  15. VMWare VMinclusion Taara launched in Dec 2019 is one of the largest upskilling programmes in India and offers certifications on latest IT solutions in networking, data center, cloud and cloud management technologies. (https://www.vmware.com/taara/)

Just as the titles of most programs indicate, these ambassadors of workplace diversity continue to be a beacon of light for aspiring women. A proactive approach on the part of the employers goes a long way in reinstating trust and confidence among the returning women. Research suggests that women with prior corporate experience bring with them skills such as better time management and higher productivity; and if provided with the right kind of opportunities, the attrition among such women is quite low. Training such a talent pool would also be more effective and result-oriented than training freshers.

On a closing note, these second career programmes could serve as an incubation center for the making of future Renaissance women.