Global banks in India expand maternity benefits to attract and retain female workforce

Global banks in India expand maternity benefits to attract and retain female workforce

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To attract and retain women talent and as an attempt to increase female workforce participation, Global banks operating  in India are finding new ways to increase maternity benefits beyond the conventional norms. Citigroup now offers one year of remote work/work from home  for new mothers.

In a country where female workforce participation remains below 25%, these initiatives aim to empower women and promote gender diversity in the workplace.

Citigroup Inc. last week announced a policy allowing new mothers to work from home for up to a year after their paid maternity leave concludes. “We will never become a developed country without women’s participation,” said Aditya Mittal, chief human resources officer of Citi India & South Asia.

Also read: Govt announces family pension for LIC employees, increases gratuity limit for agents

India already mandates a minimum 26 weeks of maternity leave at full pay — among the most in the Group of 20 economies, according to the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal — and employers with more than 50 employees must offer a creche, or daycare, onsite or close by.  Central Government also launched a job training program for women in 2021, and last year touted that adopting flexible hours could be a way to encourage women to work outside the home.

It offers a stark contrast with the US, where there’s no legal provision for paid leave at all. There JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. both offer 16 weeks off for all new parents. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gives moms and dads 20 weeks off.

With US-China tensions growing, many global lenders are targeting the country, drawn by its fast-growing economy and burgeoning middle class. Dealmaking has surged. HSBC is recruiting wealth bankers for its reestablished private banking unit, and Citigroup has identified India as one of its top markets for expansion.

For Global banks it has become necessary, to add more women talent and retain those already onboard in Banks, to address the specific needs of female employees. In addition to the required on-site daycare, HSBC Holdings Plc provides female employees with a monthly childcare allowance of up to $216 to pay for a nanny to look after kids up to age of 6.The bank also offers flexible working hours and post-natal career development.

Morgan Stanley offers pregnant employees in Mumbai and Bangalore the opportunity to expense cab rides in their last trimester to avoid crowded public transportation. The bank also provides a phased return to work, coaching for expectant and new parents, and mentorship programs. Additionally, Morgan Stanley grants new fathers up to 16 weeks of leave, a substantial enhancement compared to the 15 days of paternity leave mandated for government employees in India.

Citigroup intends to expand its paternity leave benefits in the coming year, aligning them with maternity leave policies, and further emphasizing its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment in India. These efforts by global banks represent significant strides toward gender equality in the Indian workforce.

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February 2024

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