“Colleagues kept mentioning that the organisation offers flexibility, which is especially attractive to female employees. It was important to me as I was coming back from a three-year break after having my second daughter.”
Daughters Neha, now 15, and Mansi, 9, aren’t Poonam’s only consideration in balancing her work and home life. Her elderly mother lives with her in the family home, and being ill, needs care on a 24/7 basis. Her husband’s work also involves him being away from home a lot on business.
Since completing her postgraduate studies in Human Resource Management 18 years ago, Poonam has been focused on a professional career. During this time, she says, she has seen a move towards greater empowerment and support for women’s development. Although it still has plenty of room to progress, admits Poonam, she says Shell is “way ahead of the game” when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
“In Shell, I would say that we have a top quartile set of policies that support people’s need for flexible working at different stages of their lives,” she explains. “These provide options for part-time working, working from home, job sharing, flexi-time, financial support for child care, a sabbatical, etc.
“Shell recognises that women often have a career trajectory, which is different from that of men,” continues Poonam. “In their late 20s and early 30s, when men are raring to get into middle management roles, which stretch them and provide evidence of their risk taking propensities and their potential, women are often preparing to slow down. We are either getting married or contemplating babies, so there’s a shift in focus in the next three to five years for us.