Organizations must focus on bringing women back to corporate world after maternity breaks: Pooja Herwadkar, Capgemini

Pooja Herwadkar, VP, Europe Cluster BU India Head, Engagement manager community leader, Capgemini shares her views on diversity in the field of technology

Supriya Rai
New Update

DQ: How has the perception towards women in technology changed over the years?


Pooja Herwadkar: The perception has indeed changed over the years and continues to change with persistent focus and initiatives launched by technology companies. Technology companies are driving focused programs to groom women talent to grow into leaders and C-level executives. These programs identify talented, ambitious women and put them to learning initiatives, mentoring programs to climb up the corporate ladder.

DQ: What are your thoughts on diversity in the technology industry?


Pooja Herwadkar: Performing teams / organizations need diverse talent to work together for a common goal, utilizing diverse skills and strengths of each individual. Collaborating with individuals of different genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and race leads to increased innovation and enhanced problem-solving. Hiring for diversity means onboarding different methods and strategies of thinking. A healthy mix is very important for success. Diversity is important to balance out the strengths needed. Women bring a whole lot of organizational skills to the table. Many organizations are looking to have senior women in the company board. It’s a healthy sign of progress in our society.

I trust this will continue and even get better in the years to come. At Capgemini in India, our women employees constitute close to 35% of our overall workforce. We believe that women in decision making roles are key to truly bringing the culture change on an equal opportunity workplace.

DQ: What are the steps that are needed to be taken to ensure more participation from women?


Pooja Herwadkar: I believe the first step to ensure participation in the long run is by bringing women back to the corporate world after the maternity break. Organizations are investing in women’s career growth. Investing in their careers will improve the participation levels. Investing in women’s careers includes putting them through trainings, mentoring programs, encouraging them to take challenging assignments, etc.

DQ: As a woman working in the tech field, do you have any role models that you look up to?

Pooja Herwadkar: Yes, I do have role models – mentors and coaches that’ve shaped my career. My belief is that you can learn something from every individual that you interact with. Nevertheless, it’s important to have trusted mentors and coaches who can give advice when you need it. I call them career gurus!


DQ: Why in your opinion must companies entrust women with leadership roles?

Pooja Herwadkar: Companies in my opinion should entrust women with leadership roles due the following reasons: -

  1. More women = better problem-solving
  2. Women leaders are trusted
  3. Women leaders are collaborative
  4. Women leaders make terrific mentors
  5. Follow the money – Bringing increased financial results

It is widely accepted today that a diverse workforce fuels greater creativity and innovation. Women bring in more compassion into the workplace as well and contributes to a more balanced and harmonious work environment.

DQ: How has your journey been in your organization?

Pooja Herwadkar: My 17 year journey at Capgemini has been very exciting. Every year brings in new business opportunities, new learnings. I’ve performed various local and international roles in the organization. Each role helped shape my career and profile. Each role helped me connect with new people from diverse cultures. I started as a technology specialist in Oct 2002, moving later on to pick up engagement manager roles for complex engagements. Capgemini University offers engagement manager certifications from foundation to level 4 of which Level 4 is the highest level. I was the first level 4 EM from Capgemini India. I lead the Capgemini India engagement manager community.


The Group has set a vision for India 2020 around 4 pillars : be a close partner to our client, power rotation to the next and drive innovation, be the engine of world-class delivery and put people at the heart of our ambition. For each of these 4 dimensions, Engagement Managers have a major role to play, being the face of our company to our employees and to our clients. It is therefore a strategic objective to grow our vibrant EM community in India and to boost their skills so that we deliver on our ambition. I play a leadership role to develop and strengthen the EM community. To summarize I’ve grown very well on the professional front with this rich experience offered at Capgemini.

DQ: What are some of the gender-inclusive policies in your company?

Pooja Herwadkar: At Capgemini, we have consciously worked on identifying areas of interventions through policies and practises to expand mind set through our employee’s life cycle. Capgemini is committed to equality of opportunity and inclusion by ensuring dignity at work for all. Diversity and inclusion have always been in our DNA. Some of the dimensions of diversity and inclusion at Capgemini today includes gender balance, PwD, LGBTI+ community, Multiculturism and Happiness and Wellbeing.


In India, Capgemini’s gender balance program called WinspirE functions under the umbrella of our global program Women@Capgemini and drives initiatives across our four towers:Recruit, Retain, Develop and Corporate Awareness

CAPtivate is Capgemini’s Career Comeback initiative to support skilled women professionals who want to make a transition back into the workforce. As part of our exclusive, women-only recruitment initiative, resumes are invited from experienced women professionals who are currently on a career break and who are looking to get back to their careers. Women who are currently not employed for a minimum duration of a year can apply to jobs that are relevant to their work experience.Nearly 50% of the joiners through Capgemini’s career comeback approach in 2019 were women.

fareWelcome! programme is designed to support women colleagues during the maternity phase - assist in transition from office to maternity leave, help stay connected with the organisation and colleagues during the maternity break and ease ‘back to work’ transition process. Additionally, up-skilling enablers are also provided to ensure smooth transition from maternity leave to work. ‘Buddy Connect’ is part of this program where, every women colleague on maternity leave will be assigned a buddy, who will help her stay connected with organisation. We leverage flexibility as a key tool to enable work-life balance. The campaign includes a series of awareness tools like screen savers; plasma displays; interactive canopies; focused group discussions - women connects; BU HR connects; parental blogs, experiences and stories; women leader role model connects and more.

Flexi Work Option

Under this policy we have enrolled two flexi work options – i) Flexi Workplace – An employee can opt for work from home; ii) Part-time or Part Time option – An employee may opt to work for either part of the day or some days of the week instead of the normal 47.5 hours, subject to minimum of 24 hours per week. We saw a 50% jump in employee usage of Flexi work policy in 2019.

Half Day Leave

Capgemini provides Half Day leave to provide flexibility to employees and address their personal commitments. An employee upon supervisors’ prior approval may apply for a half day leave in the first half or later half of a workday as required.

Although Flexi Work Option and Half Day Leave is applicable for all employees at Capgemini, these policies help our women colleagues continue and thrive at workplace while maintaining work life balance.

Extended Maternity Leave

Much before the government announcedthe 6 months maternity leave for working mothers, Capgemini had already had this policy in place. Furthermore, these 6 months can be extended to another one month if required. Additionally, this can be extended to a sabbatical leave which is minimum of 6 months to 2 years if needed.

Creche Facility

As part of our continued employee engagement and parental benefits, Capgemini opened it’s 5th in-house creche in Chennai in 2019 and recently expanded the creche facility in Mumbai. In addition, we have tie-ups with external partners in other locations to ensure all employees have access to creche facility. In 2020, apart from expanding our existing creche facility in Bangalore, we commit to setting up facilities in our Pune office location.

Lactation rooms

Capgemini recognises the importance and benefits of breastfeeding for infants and has made special accommodations to support new mothers as part of its commitment to providing a family-friendly work environment. Through our practices, policies, buildings, and personnel, we are working to ensure that all of our employees are supported in providing the best, most nutritious start to their babies lives. The lactation rooms support our employees by balancing their return to work with their needs as mothers of young children. Each room offers a clean, secure, and user-friendly environment for women who need to express breast milk during their work shift.


Parents@CG is our parental network support program which aims to support all colleagues with parental responsibilities and strengthen their existing parenting abilities and promote the development of new competencies so that parents have the knowledge and skills needed to carry out child-rearing responsibilities and provide their children with experiences and opportunities that promote child learning and development.

As part of building our leadership pipeline from within Capgemini we have programs and learning interventions for women such as the Power Ahead program.

Power Ahead is a 6 months program to accelerate women into leadership level within Capgemini. Delivered in partnership with IIM, the program weaves in leadership connects, shadowing, mentoring and stretch roles apart from commitments into CSR to reiterate being the Architects of Positive Future.

As part of our continuous and sustained efforts to increase women representation not just at the entry level but also at leadership level, at Capgemini, we do strategic hiring at the leadership level. 50% of the VP hires in 2019 were women.