Tata Consultancy Services, India´s largest software firm, recently put an end to remote work policies. This had an unintended causality: more female employees decided not to return to the office than male peers.
The firm saw higher attrition among women when it called employees back to work after the pandemic. That’s unusual for the IT giant, where female attrition has historically been either lower or similar to their male counterparts.
“I would think working from home during the pandemic reset the domestic arrangements for some women, keeping them from returning to office,” Chief Human Resources Officer of TCS, Milind Lakkad, said in the company’s annual report last week.
“It is a setback to our efforts to promote gender diversity, but we are doubling down on it,” he added.
The flexibility to work remotely in recent years has helped companies attract and retain talent, particularly women, as they found it easier to juggle office and home duties.
The shift now is making Indian women drop out of jobs, worsening an already low participation in the workforce.
India’s female labor force participation is pretty low at 21 %, according to World Bank data. That’s a risk for economic growth in the world’s most populous nation, where women comprise about half of the citizens.
Women make up about 36% of TCS employees, and the company is trying to increase their representation, including in leadership roles, Lakkad said.