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Gloria Johns headshot

This Software Company Offers Women a Path to Return to a Post-Pandemic Workplace

The software company Freshworks is partnering with Silicon Valley's Women Back to Work to seek out qualified women eager to return back to the job market.
By Gloria Johns

Freshworks, a software-as-a-service company with headquarters in San Mateo, California and Chennai, India, recently introduced its Career Restart Program (CRP) in the U.S. The CRP return-to-work program is for women who have been on a career break for more than a year due to family commitments, raising children, the loss of a spouse during the pandemic, personal health issues or any other personal crisis.

Freshworks lays out a plan for women to re-enter the workplace

Freshworks first introduced the CRP in November 2021 in India as the Pledge For Equality program, with the goal of finding female talent in the areas of sales and marketing, product management, and engineering. Eighteen women were selected to complete a 16-week developmental training course, including competency development, on-the-job training and mentoring.

The U.S.-based CRP, in partnership with Women Back to Work, seeks out women for customer support and solution engineer roles, and the two groups works together to place these women for hire.

“We help companies that value diversity and inclusion hire career-ready returners with technical backgrounds through custom returnship programs,” said Sonu Ratra, founder of Women Back to Work, in a public statement. “We look forward to partnering with Freshworks as they continue to tackle gender parity and strive to ultimately reach a 50/50 workforce across the globe.”

In addition to the professional development opportunities provided by Women Back to Work, Freshworks has launched its own 12-week mentorship program, and most importantly, it has committed to offering full-time positions to those who complete the program.

“Our goal for women in leadership roles (director and above) was 20 percent in 2021, which was surpassed, reaching 25 percent globally, and 37 percent for the US at the end of last year," Jayne Gonzalez, Freshworks’ senior director of corporate communications, told TriplePundit. "Our 2022 goal is focused on reaching a saturation point of 40 percent women globally, across all levels.”

After decades of progress, the pandemic forced many women out of the workplace

The trend of working women over the decades has generally tracked with societal influences. For example, in the U.S. before World War II, men were the primary breadwinners in the family, and women were only 28 percent of the labor force. During the era of Rosie the Riveter, associated with the war effort, women flooded the labor market as the only available labor pool as many working-age men were fighting a war. The ranks of women in the workforce then swelled to 37 percent and higher. Necessity of the financial kind also drove women into the workforce. As men returned from the war, some women opted out of the workforce, but the number pursuing higher education increased. Starting in 1979, more women than men have been enrolled in higher education in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought on the opposite effect, as it has largely had a negative impact on the numbers of women who are currently in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2 million women in the United States have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic, roughly since early February of 2020. In 2020, the share of women who took part in the labor force fell by 1.2 percentage points to 56.2 percent, the lowest rate since 1987, and nearly four percentage points below the peak of 60 percent in 1999.

Many women face a long road back to the workplace

In January 2022, almost 4 percent of all women were jobless. However, nearly 5 percent of Latinas and nearly 6 percent of Black women were unemployed. Women with disabilities were most affected, as nearly 8 percent of this group were jobless.

Women have long faced challenges in the workplace, which was usually due to evolutionary and societal circumstances and less with their capabilities, such as child-rearing, the overwhelming rate that women versus men assume the role of primary caregiver and the flexibility women often require based on those roles. Programs such as Freshworks Career Restart, however, offer a needed response has they can assist women with the skills and training to relaunch careers.

These gaps in the career trajectory of women add to the disadvantages that women face, in spite of being more highly educated than their peers were previously, and, to a certain extent, C-suite opportunities for women becoming more common.

Over time, training, employment and “returnship” programs such as Freshworks Career Restart could help close the gap in those disparities.

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Gloria Johns headshot

Gloria Johns' career has included her work as a columnist for Scripps-Howard, Gannett and Tribune News Service. She writes for the San Angelo Standard Times and the West Texas Angelus. Previously she was a special features reporter for San Angelo LIVE! Gloria also has nearly thirty years of award-winning grant writing experience for federal, state and county funds to support social, medical, educational and arts projects. She has enjoyed a successful career in telecommunications and nonprofit management. "Gloria is a Purdue University graduate. She has also attended Angelo State University for graduate courses and studied Texas Family Law at Sam Houston State University. She lives just on the edge of the Chihuahua desert in west Texas.

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