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Published: September 30, 2011


How to Be Irresistible to Women

IWIN began by introducing a one-year child care sabbatical with the option of working part-time for the next two years. The part-time option permits employees to work either half-days or a few full days per week. A satellite office in the center of Bangalore enables prospective and new mothers to avoid traveling to the suburban main campus. “It can cut a commute by 50 percent,” says Gurjar. Flexible work schedules and telecommuting are also available.

Approximately 96 percent of the part-time employees are working mothers, Gurjar reports. During sabbaticals, women can stay connected with their teams and catch up with technology advances that occurred during their leave. They are also put on projects, with a strong monitoring system in place for their first two months back to spot problems and accelerate learning. In addition, if a returning mother feels that her job is too stressful, the WithInfy internal job posting network helps her find alternative career opportunities so that her skills aren’t completely lost to the company.

Every year, the company asks women to identify three things that it can do to make Infosys more attractive to women and make it easier for them to do their jobs, says Gurjar. “We do all of them.”

For example, expectant mothers asked for parenting workshops and health programs. Infosys provides daily Pregnacare yoga and fitness classes on the main campus. There’s an online referral service for hospitals, pediatricians, day care centers, nannies, and schools. Nursing stations supported by women lactation experts and a doctor on call are set up in all the offices. Similarly, all the offices have day care centers within four kilometers; most are equipped with Web cameras so that mothers can check in remotely throughout the day. Employees use office shuttle buses to drop their children at day care free of cost.

Because a major challenge for working mothers is “me” space, Infosys campuses are equipped with supermarkets, beauty salons, drugstores with prescription services, banks, recreation facilities, and canteens that offer take-out meals. “In the Bangalore office, the canteen offers eighteen different cuisines,” Gurjar notes. “Many people carry food home.”

Concierge services assist with tax returns, insurance advice, telephone hook-up, and other mundane tasks that can stretch a long day to the breaking point. Although many of these services are used as much by men, Gurjar says, “During the times when a woman is feeling overwhelmed by family and work, these are the things that help her get over the hump.”

As a result of these programs, the number of women returning to work after maternity leave increased from 59 percent to 88 percent in the past five years; the total number of working mothers tripled during that time.

IWIN recently expanded its offerings to include life counseling for young women — 60 percent of its entry-level women join the company directly from university — as well as professional support for women facing harassment at home.

The company hopes these policies will persuade more high school girls to decide to study science and engineering. To get the word out, it routinely brings large groups of high school girls from all around the country to Infosys campuses. “They see our workforce, learn about the customers, the management, the possibilities,” says Gurjar.

The company’s ultimate goal is to have women make up at least half of the workforce, if not more. By creating a work environment that both attracts and retains them, IWIN helps make Infosys a magnet for women.

— Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Copyright 2011 by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid. All rights reserved.

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This Reviewer

  1. Sally Helgesen is a contributing editor to s+b. She has written five books, including The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (Berrett-Koehler, 2010), with Julie Johnson, and The Female Advantage: Women’s Ways of Leadership (Doubleday Currency, 1990). She is a speaker and consultant, and has advised the United Nations Development Programme and led seminars at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Smith College.

This Excerpt

  1. Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women Are the Solution (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid
  2. Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy. She also directs the Gender and Policy Program at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. She is the author of 11 critically acclaimed books, including Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), and a featured blogger on Harvard Business Online and
  3. Ripa Rashid is executive vice president at the Center for Work-Life Policy. Formerly, she served as a global diversity manager at Booz Allen Hamilton and director in the Office of Diversity at MetLife. Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets is her first book.


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