Minnat Lalpuria's 7vachan, a small Gurgaon-based wedding planning enterprise, allows its three-member workforce, all women, baby feeding time. "Nobody, client or colleague, can bother my head of business development, Srobona Biswas, between 12 pm to 2 pm and 7 pm to 9 pm. It's her one-year-old daughter's lunch and dinner time," says Lalpuria. During this time, all urgent calls are handled by Biswas's colleague or by the founder herself. The trio has so far worked on five weddings budgeted between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 5 crore and earn an average of around Rs 4,000 a wedding. Apart from child-care privileges, there are other staff benefits, such as hassle-free time off.
Pune-based SheepStop is another small, women-only enterprise. It has only six members. The company sells accessories such as sunglasses along with T-shirts through an e-commerce portal and retail stores across India. "When we started in 2009 we had a mixed team but within six months we dropped that," says founder Bhagyashri Shinde. The Rs 1 crore turnover enterprise has spent the last two weeks without a boss, as Shinde has been away in Mumbai because of a family medical emergency. Despite that, her company managed to "crack" a new retail store. "Functions are interchangeable. The operations head who overlooks the company's business strategy for sales and production can take on the function of a pan-India store-manager," says Shinde. "And as long as targets for the day are met we are all allowed to flex our time as required."
Perhaps it is not surprising then that 'Defining Success', an Accenture study, found that women value work-life balance more than they value money. Today many of them have succeeded or are looking to design balanced successful and rewarding careers that fit their routines and lifestyles.
The Accenture study was conducted to gain insights into behaviours and attitudes regarding women's careers. It looked at how professionals define success in their careers and personal lives and explored career satisfaction, work-life balance and workplace priorities, among other things. The online survey covered 4,100 business executives, half of whom were men, from medium to large organisations in 33 countries, including India.
According to the study, 70 per cent of women and men believe they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work. More than half of those surveyed (56 per cent) said work-life balance topped their definition of career success, ahead of money, recognition and autonomy. Fifty-two per cent say they have turned down a job due to concerns about its impact on their work-life balance.
It's not just small entrepreneurs who seek a good work-life balance. According to the Accenture study, women working in some of India's top companies seek a better balance between their careers and personal lives. "More women today are defining success as work-life balance," says Rekha Menon, Executive Director, Accenture India. "Women have even started negotiating on compensation so they receive more," she adds.