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A REPORT BASED ON THE STUDY

CONDUCTED IN DELHI, MUMBAI,


AND BANGALORE AMONG WORKING
MOTHERS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION
This report may be cited as:
Makhija and Raha, Gender Diversi in the Indian Legal Sector, Rainmaker, 2012.
SONAL MAKHIJA AND SWAGATA RAHA
CHALLENGES FACED BY INDIAN
WOMEN LEGAL PROFESSIONALS
CONTENTS
Introduction 1
Methodology 4
1. Prole of respondents 6
1.1 Respondents across sectors and cities 7
1.2 Age prole and work experience 8
1.3 Educational qualications and annual
income 11
1.4 Number and age of children 13
Personal history - Anju Jain Kumar 14
Personal history - Priyanka Roy 17
2. Women at work 19
2.1 Factors that inuence employment 20
2.2 Work hours 23
2.3 Reduced hours and part-time work 26
2.4 Carrying work home and working on
weekends 28
2.5 Flexibili at work 30
2.6 Work-life balance 33
2.7 Sabbaticals and their repercussions 38
2.8 Mentorship 40
2.9 Is the legal workspace gendered? 41
Personal history - Haripriya Padmanabhan 48
Personal history - Jayana Kothari 51
3. Materni benet policies and the impact
of motherhood on the career 53
3.1 Impact of pregnancy on career 54
3.2 Parental leave policies 57
3.3 Extension of materni leave 60
3.4 Break aer materni leave 61
3.5 Resumption of work 62
3.6 Transition from materni to work 64
3.7 Impact of motherhood on career 70
Personal history - Liz Mathew 73
Personal history - Madhurima Mukherjee 75
Personal history - Kosturi Ghosh 77
4. Assessment of employers 80
4.1 Is your employer empathetic towards the
needs of working parent? 82
4.2 How would you rate the measures adopted
by your employer to promote exibili
and encourage work-life balance? 83
4.3 How would you rate the childcare
assistance (if any) oered by your
employer? 86
4.4 How would you rate the diversi
programmes (if any) oered by your
employer? 87
5. Concluding observations and
recommendations 88
5.1 Duration of paternal leave 90
5.2 Factors that can help change negative
perceptions towards working mothers 92
5.3 Factors that can make the transition of
women from materni to the work force
easy 94
5.4 Measures that can be adopted by
employers to make the environment
conducive for working mothers and to
promote work-life balance 96
5.5 Factors that would make courtrooms
conducive for women in litigation 101
Acknowledgements 105
About the authors 106
About Rainmaker 107
INTRODUCTION
In the last decade, the Indian legal sector has
emerged as a competitive and rapidly growing
business sector. India has witnessed substantial
growth in the demand for legal services aer
Liberalisation. The eagerness of foreign lawyers
to enter the Indian legal market is a validation
of this growing demand for legal professionals,
considering, India is a market that remains
closed to foreign lawyers.
Nonetheless, small Indian law rms headed by
young lawyers, are sprouting in metros on a
regular basis. Despite this growth, the corporate
legal sector in India is still considered small in
comparison to its more robust and large
counterpart - litigation. The image of a lawyer
in India, according to Professor Marc Galanter,
conjures up a courtroom lawyer as opposed to
a business adviser.
1
Yet, one would agree that
this observation sits uncomfortably today with
the growth of full-service law rms in
metropolitan cities and the seing up of
full-service legal departments in large
companies.
The education sector has witnessed the most
signicant impact of the growth of the Indian
legal market. There has been a surge in the
establishment of law schools empowered to
award the ve-year integrated B.A., B.B.A., or
B. Sc., Ll.B (Honours) degrees. The number of
women and men graduating from premier
National Law Universities have almost equalled
over the past decade. Ideally, more women
graduating from law schools should translate
into more women partners, more women
designated as senior advocates, and more
women leading in-house legal departments. .
The reali, however, could not be further from
this.
Gender Diversi Benchmark for Asia 2011, a
report by Communi Business, mapped the
presence of women at junior, middle, and
senior levels of twen-one companies in
China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, and
Singapore. according to the report, India is the
worst performer when it comes to female
employment from junior to mid-level and the
greatest leak takes place between junior and
middle level positions.
2
India also has the
lowest percentage of women in the workforce
as compared to other countries.
3
The authors of
the report observed that Indian women raised
the subject of personal sacrice (in terms of
having children) in the quest for success
4
and
that [w]ith fewer women making it from junior
1 M., Galanter (1969), Introduction: The Study of the Indian Legal Profession, 3 LAW &SOCY REV 201, 202 (1968-69), Universi of Chicago [Online] at hp://marcgalanter.net/Documents/lawyersandlawrms.htm. We
realise that the growth of law rms in India is restricted to metropolitan cities, and does not necessarily hold true for towns and districts.
2 Communi Business, Gender Diversi Benchmark for Asia, 2011, p. 5 hp://www.communibusiness.org/images/cb/publications/2011/GDBM_2011.pdf
3 Id at p.13.
4 Supra n.2 at p.6. 1
to middle levels, the pool of women able to
move to senior level positions is that much
smaller and therefore the problem of the
leaking pipeline is actually more severe.
5

While the report pertains to the presence of
women in select companies, their ndings and
observations explain why women are invisible
in managerial positions.
In 1921, the Allahabad High Court enrolled Ms.
Cornelia Sorabji and thus paved the way for
womens entry into the legal profession.
6
More
than eight decades later, of the 397 advocates
designated as Senior Advocates in the Supreme
Court since 1962, only ve are women and of
the 1872 Advocates-on-Record, only 239 are
women. The overwhelming visual, that greets
one in courts across the country, is that of
over-hurried, black-robed male lawyers. Not
surprisingly then, India appointed its rst
woman Additional Solicitor General as recently
as 2009. Besides, women in litigation have
fewer support measures such as materni
benets and materni leave.
Men still hold most of the top positions in the
legal sector of the country. The narrative of
success in law follows the professional
trajectory of an ideal male lawyer. Women
rarely nd a mention in Indian medias lists of
legal superstars. The coverage of women
lawyers is primarily focussed on women who
have, against all odds, broken through the glass
ceiling.
While there are more women employed in the
world, they still grapple with a working
environment tailored around men and womens
traditional social responsibilities. Such an
approach fails to recognise that most
employees would like to achieve a work-life
balance that would help them straddle family
and career. Inexibili at the workplace could
compel talented women to opt out or slow
down and could also perpetuate the gender
stereope that women are primarily
responsible for childcare. Under the garb of
gender-neutral policies, women are expected
to work the same number of hours as their
male counterparts and not seek any licence or
liber because of their children. They are
expected to t within the mould of the ideal
worker - inevitably a man, living the
traditionally masculine biography of a
breadwinner married to a homemaker.
7
The
maternal wall is a less-spoken-about bias that
most women face.
According to the International Labour
Organization, as joint breadwinning becomes
the norm, discrimination in employment on the
basis of actual or potential materni has
implications for the whole socie.
8
This is an
5 Id at p.16.
6 Ramo Devi Gupta, Advent of Women in the Profession of Law, at hp://www.allahabadhighcourt.in/event/AdventOfWomenInTheProfessionMrsRDGupta.html; Justice A.D.Mane [Retd.], Womens Place at the Bar, at
hp://mshrc.maharashtra.gov.in/Speech/upload/le%2051.pdf
7 Joan C. Williams, Jessica Manwell, Stephanie Bornstein, Opt Out or Pushed Out? : How the Press Covers Work/Family Conict The Untold Story of why Women leave the Workforce, p. 8, The Center for Work Life
Law, Universi of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2006.
8 International Labour Conference Eigh-seventh Session 1999, Report V(1) Materni protection at work, Revision of the Materni Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95)
hp://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc87/rep-v-1.htm
2
area that cannot be ignored as the number of
women working throughout their child-bearing
is escalating...
9

We undertook this study to understand why
such few women lawyers get to the top. Do
they have to pay a motherhood penal? In
what way does motherhood impact a womans
career? What makes women lawyers stay? Do
women who opt out or take a break do so out
of choice or because of the inexibilities at
work? What feasible measures can
organisations adopt to retain talented women
lawyers and also make the workspace more
conducive for all?
We believe this is the rst study in India that
interrogates the presence of women lawyers in
law rms, companies, and in litigation practice,
with a view to understand the pressures that
women face, and the changes required to make
the workplace responsive to their needs. We
examine the narratives of women who
continue in the paid legal workforce. The study
also examines exible work policies, economic
incentives, and employer-created support
structures that help retain women in the
profession or lure them back into the
profession.
Some of the other questions we respond to are:
How will the profession evolve to assimilate
women, as opposed to, accommodate them?
Should the profession alter its expectations and
methods of evaluation? What would it take for
an equivalent number of women to ll the
leadership positions?
Based on the responses and recommendations
of women lawyers, the report delineates the
best practices that can help law rms,
companies, and other employers retain
talented women lawyers. We hope that the
recommendations in this report will be
carefully considered by employers,
managements, and the Bar Council of India, and
will prompt them to develop positive measures
and work practices to make the work place
conducive for women lawyers. |
9 Id
3
METHODOLOGY
This report is based on the research we
conducted between February, 2011 and
October, 2011.
For the purpose of the study, we employed an
online survey method. The objective was to
collect comprehensive data on the experiences
and working conditions of women lawyers who
had children. We contacted women lawyers
who were working and women lawyers who
were on a break. In addition to the women
engaged in mainstream law practice, we also
surveyed women lawyers in the academia and
the non-prot sector. The respondents
belonged to varied hierarchal positions: from
partners and associates in law rms, in-house
legal personnel in the corporate sector, and
women in private practice or assisting senior
lawyers.
The respondents were selected at random. All
respondents fullled the professional criteria of
being qualied lawyers who work or have
previously worked as lawyers. The survey
specically focused on women who have
children. The study was conned to women
lawyers who were mothers because women
lawyers tend to opt out of the paid legal
workforce or slow down aer the birth of a
child.
Three dierent questionnaires were drawn up
for the purpose of data collection
- ccmmcn quesicnnaire cr ucmen
working in law rms, companies,
and government;
- ccmmcn quesicnnaire cr ucmen
working in N.G.O.s and academic
institutions; and
- quesicnnaire cr ucmen in liiaicn
These questionnaires captured information
relating to womens work experience; the
nature of work and their positions; work hours
and exibili; the available childcare options;
and the factors that inuence their decision to
join an organisation, such as work-life
balance, remuneration, and other policies that
serve as incentives. Additionally, the
questionnaires captured the barriers or biases
that women lawyers faced in the
profession.
This included asking the respondents to rate
their workplaces on various parameters, such
as, policies that encouraged work-life balance
and measures that encouraged women to
continue working, like favourable policies
towards parenting. We also asked them to
recommend measures employers should adopt
to improve work-life balance, and make the
workplace conducive for all.
We contacted 150 women lawyers for the
study. Of the 150, 81 women lawyers
completed the survey. The survey was
4
administered online to women lawyers in New
Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. All
questionnaires were in the English language.
Since we had limited access to women in
litigation, we made visits to the Delhi High
Court, the Karnataka High Court, and the
Bangalore Ci Civil Court to reach out to them.
At least eight women of the 150 were unwilling
to participate in the study, citing discomfort in
disclosing personal information, the fear of
being identied in the study, and the length of
the questionnaire as reasons for refusal. All
eight women belonged to law rms. Women in
law rms, in comparison to women in litigation
and those employed by companies, were more
reluctant to participate in the study.
We encountered diculties in reaching out to
women in N.G.O.s and academic institutions, as
there were few women that t our criteria.
The survey focused on women between the
ages of thir and for. The average age of
respondents was thir-four years. The women
lawyers belonged to 19 dierent companies
and 16 dierent law rms. The women in
litigation practiced in the High Courts of
Bombay, Karnataka, and Delhi; the civil courts;
and the family courts of the respective cities.
In addition to these women lawyers, we also
approached the partners at twen law rms
and the heads of the Human Resources
departments at twen companies seeking data
on the number of female partners and
associates, the policies on materni leave,
sexual harassment, and work-life balance for
lawyers. They were given the option of
responding anonymously. We received
responses from only two law rms and one
company.
Trilegal and J. Sagar Associates were the law
rms who responded. Among companies, HSBC
Securities and Capital Markets (India) Private
Limited alone responded. We have, however,
not included the data shared by the rms and
the company in this report due to the
inadequate number of responses we received
from the employers. The purpose of contacting
employers was to present their perspective.
We have refrained from arriving at accurate
inferences on the sector based on the data. The
analysis should be read merely as directional
indications. Nonetheless, an aggregate analysis
of all three sectors depicts the overall status of
the legal system. |
5
1. PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS
6
RESPONDENTS ACROSS SECTORS
81 women lawyers completed comprehensive online questionnaires
that sought information on their employment history, the work-life
policies in their organisations, materni policies, the impact of
motherhood on their careers, and an assessment of their employers
policies and working conditions. Women lawyers across three cities
Bangalore, New Delhi, and Mumbai, and ve sectors law rms,
companies, litigation, N.G.O.s, international organisations, academic
institutions, and the government, participated in this study.
Women across three cities
36.6%
BANGALORE
48.8%
NEW DELHI
9.8%
MUMBAI
Y 10% of the women were on a break at the time of participating
in the study four women from law rms, three women from
companies, and one woman in litigation were not working at the
time of the study.
Y We received considerably fewer responses from Mumbai in
comparison to the other two cities. We have therefore not analysed
the data ci-wise. The majori of our respondents were engaged
in litigation practice, followed by law rms, and companies. Women
from N.G.O.s and academia were few.
Y 10% of the respondents surveyed switched segments aer the
birth of their rst child. This included women working in law
rms who shied to companies, and women in litigation who
joined law rms, companies, and the government.
29.2% Law rms (24 women from 16 law rms)
26.8% Companies (21 women from 19 companies)
35% Litigation (29 women)
6% N.G.O.s, international organisations,
and academic institutions (5 women)
2.4% Government (2 women)
1. 1 RESPONDENTS ACROSS SECTORS AND CI TI ES
7
RESPONDENTS AGE PROFILE
The majori of our respondents, that is, 63 of them, were between
the ages of thir and thir-nine years. Further, more women in this
age bracket had children who require close parental aention -
which is possibly the reason why women's careers chart a dierent
trajectory to those of men in their thirties.
9.9% 25-29 years
50.6% 30-34 years
27.2% 35-39 years
7.4% 40-44 years
2.5% 45-49 years
2.5% 50-55 years
YEARS OF WORK EXPERIENCE
Most respondents had taken a break of a few months to a few years
during their careers to full their familial obligations - a feature that
would be absent in men's careers if one were to follow their career
paths.
7.4% Below 5 years
59.3% 5-10 years
22.2% 11-15 years
7.4% 16-20 years
3.7% Above 20 years
1. 2 AGE PROFI LE AND WORK EXPERI ENCE
8
POSITION OF RESPONDENTS IN
LAW FIRMS
Most law rms follow a hierarchical structure where 'Associate' is
the starting position and 'Equi partner' is the highest.
Approximately 58%, that is, 14 women in law rms said that they
were involved in business development. Business development in
law rms pically entails identiing and meeting potential clients.
16.7% Associate
33.3% Senior Associate
20.8% Principal Associate or
Managing Associate
12.5% Consultant
8.3% Partner
8.3% Proprietor
ASSOCIATES AND
SENIOR ASSOCIATES
8 women
PRINCIPAL ASSOCIATES
OR MANAGING ASSOCIATES
5 women
PPARTNERS AND
PROPRIETORS
4 women
9
POSITION OF RESPONDENTS IN
COMPANIES
33% Junior level
less than 7 years of
experience
43% Middle level
between 8 and 15 years
of experience
24% Senior level
over than 15 years of
experience
The hierarchical structure in the legal departments of companies
varies and the nomenclature is not uniform. A Managing Associate
could fall at the boom level of the pyramid or be part of the senior
management in the legal department of a company. Only 14% of
women working in companies were involved in business
development.
10
EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
1. 3 EDUCATI ONAL QUALI FI CATI ONS AND ANNUAL I NCOME
44 Respondents
5-year integrated
undergraduate law
programme
37 Respondents
3-year undergraduate
law programme
14 Respondents
Post-graduate degree
in law
POSITIONS HELD BY
RESPONDENTS IN
LITIGATION
NUMBERS OTHERS NUMBERS
Independent practice*
Aached to senior
lawyer+
Retainership
Law rm
Researcher
16
6
3
1
2
1 On a break
Senior positions at
International organisations
Researchers at N.G.O.s
Facul
Junior-level ocers in
statutory authorities
2
2
1
2
* One respondent with an independent practice is also an Advocate-on-Record.
+ Two women who are aached to a senior are also engaged in independent practice. They have been included
under aached to senior lawyer.
11
55% of respondents in litigation,that is, 16 women were
independent practitioners and 21% were aached to a senior
lawyer, 2 were working in a law rm.
Almost all respondents had worked as apprentices to senior lawyers.
As part of the apprenticeship, they received a nominal amount for
their services. Some juniors continue to assist their seniors, and
simultaneously have their own practice. Unlike law rms and
corporations, the work environment in litigation practice functions
outside the employer-employee relationship, which is dened
through an employment contract.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Only Ll.B.* (66)
Ll.B and L.L.M. (7)
Ll.B and M.A./C.A./CS (7)
Ll.B. and Ph.d. (1)
81.48%
8.64%
8.64%
0.01%
* This includes B.A./B.com/BS.c
ANNUAL INCOME OF RESPONDENTS
LAW FIRMS, COMPANIES, AND OTHERS
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Did not disclose
Rs. 50,00,001 and above
Rs. 30,00,001 - Rs.50,00,000
Rs. 20,00,001 - Rs. 30,00,000
Rs. 15,00,001 - Rs. 20,00,000
Rs. 10,00,001 - Rs. 15,00,000
Rs. 7,50,001 - Rs. 10,00,000
Rs. 5,00,001 - Rs. 7,50,000
Rs. 2,40,001 - Rs. 5,00,000
3.84%
13.46%
15.38%
11.53%
13.46%
11.53%
7.69%
Rs. 2,00,000 - Rs. 2,40,000
1.92%
13.46%
7.69%
Given that most women who participated in the survey had
considerable years of experience, 15% of them were in the
remuneration bracket of 30 lakh to 50 lakh rupees. The women who
fell in the higher compensation brackets belonged to the corporate and
law rm sectors.
12
ANNUAL INCOME OF RESPONDENTS
(LITIGATION)
In contrast to law rms and companies, litigation practice appears
to be nancially less rewarding in the initial years.
AGE OF RESPONDENTS CHILDREN
53 respondents had one child, 26 had two children, and 2 had three
children. The majori of the children, that is, 58 of them were
below the age of ve years and 34 of them were between ve and
twelve years of age.
A signicant number of the children therefore, were in an age group
that required both close parental aention and childcare support in
the form of a crche, nanny, or any other. This made the struggle for
work-life balance pertinent for an overwhelming majori of the
women in our survey.
1. 4 NUMBER AND AGE OF CHI LDREN
0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28
Did not disclose
Rs. 20,00,001 and above
Rs. 15,00,001 - Rs.20,00,000
Rs. 8,00,001 - Rs. 15,00,000
Rs. 5,00,001 - Rs. 8,00,000
Rs. 3,00,001 - Rs. 5,00,000
Rs. 1,00,001 - Rs. 3,00,000
Below Rs. 1,00,000
24.13%
10.34%
3.44%
13.79%
10.34%
13.79%
13.79%
10.34%
13
5.61% < 1 year
32.71% 1 - 3 years
15.89% 3 - 5 years
31.78% 5 - 12 years
6.54% 12 - 18 years
7.48% 18 - 35 years
ANJU JAIN KUMAR
started my career in law first out of curiosity. I was
motivated by both the industry and intellectual
property work, that the decision to become a media
and entertainment lawyer was made - except that such a
specialty among lawyers did not really exist in India at that time.
This of course did not deter me in the least. The goal was clear but
the path hazy.
I had a few defining moments which paved this path for me -
starting with the pursuit of intellectual property studies in the
U.S. which presented me with an opportunity to intern with the
Motion Picture Association in Los Angeles. In the heart of the
entertainment capital of the world I got excited and enthused with
the depth of domain expertise that existed amongst media
attorneys.
As I moved along, becoming a lawyer in a corporate law firm
back home, I got presented with the opportunity of being
seconded to the Walt Disney Company which was setting up its
presence in India. I embraced this opportunity and learnt as
much as I could of the industry and business, though as outside
counsel I still sat on the periphery. It is only a few years later that
I decided to become an in-house counsel to the Walt Disney
Company India and I have never looked back.
DI RE C T OR, C OUNS E L - I NDI A L E GAL AF F AI RS ,
T HE WALT DI S NE Y C OMPANY ( I NDI A) PRI VAT E L I MI T E D
"I
14
The youthfulness of the industry, dynamic issues, evolving areas
of law and practice, but most importantly, the ability to
contribute to a growing area of legal work, have been among the
few of the many motivations that have kept me going and
continue to do so. Underlying all of this, the organisation has
allowed me to achieve a work-life balance. As I reflect back I see a
challenging yet very fulfilling career journey and its not over
yet.
I have been fortunate that the
media sector in India has a large
female presence and the
environment to my experience
has been fairly gender neutral in terms of dealings at the
workplace. However, being a woman in Indian society comes
with its demands and social conditionings. A woman has to wear
multiple hats. Managing these roles on a day to day level can add
to both emotional and physical pressures.
While I have not had any formal mentoring, I have been inspired
and have drawn learnings from a couple of key senior women
lawyers that I have worked closely with.
I have found that women tend to empathise more with issues that
are unique to women. Speaking of my own experience, I was at
the brink of quitting work so that I could move on to becoming a
mother. It was my female senior who anchored me at that point
and allowed flexibilities at the workplace which helped me to
achieve my personal goals and at the same time sustain a career.
Today being a new mother, I have a lot to thank her as I have
managed to achieved both goals.
Work-life balance is a challenge that never
goes away in its entirety. The magnitude
differs at different points. For example
there are certain decisive points in a career
path when one interest may override the
other. I faced it when I was getting married. At that stage I
decided to become an in-house counsel, as in addition to my
professional enhancement, it helped me in achieving a work-life
balance.
At other times, the challenges are smaller and require more
discipline of time, building efficiencies in working styles, and
delegation. To this the support of a strong and dedicated team has
certainly helped. I personally invest a lot of time in team and skill
set building. Needless to say, a supporting home-domestic
environment is crucial.
Work-life balance is a
challenge that never goes
away in its entirety.
15
What would additionally help are policies around flexible hours
or working out of home, which would go a long way in helping
women sustain long-term careers. |
16
PRIYANKA ROY
becn m ccreer cs c mcncement trcinee uith the
erstuhile ICICI Limited (nou ICICI cnl). Hctin
uorled ct Indic's joremost rctin cenc, CRISIL
Limited cnd tuo oj Indic's top-tier lcu jirms (1. Sccr Associctes
cnd AmcrchcndMcncldcs), m journe till nou hcs been c
roller-cocster ride cnd promises to continue to be exhilcrctin.
Trin to ccrte c plcce jor oneselj in c projession uhere men
outnumber uomen b jcr hcs its set oj chcllenes. The lecl
jrcternit does hcte c lecc oj ender bics. Houeter, I must sc
thct I hcte been lucl in thct, the orcnisctions I hcte uorled in
protide c letel plcin jield jor men cnd uomen cnd I don't
beliete I'te been subject to cn bicses cs such. I beliete thouh
thct uomen hcte to uorl hcrder thcn their mcle counterpcrts in
order to be tclen seriousl cnd this is c scd thin. It could be thct
uomen jule c lot more thins thcn men - jcmil, home, cnd
uorl cnd cre clucs under hcrsher scrutin to see uhich bcll
drops jirstl I jind it jrustrctin thct uomen in the uorlplcce
seldom support ecch other, pcrticulcrl in c senior-junior
relctionship.
Dter the lcst eleten ecrs, strilin thct uorl-lije bclcnce hcs
been touh. It is not impossible to cchiete this bclcnce, thouh it
is somethin thct ou hcte to be thinlin oj cll the time in order
PART NE R AL L I ANC E L E GAL
"I
17
to et it riht. So it is stressjul beccuse our mind is neter ct rest.
I thinl the time hcs come jor cn oterhcul oj corporcte policies to
jccilitcte c heclthier societ - mentcll cnd phsiccll. Ior
excmple, pcternit lecte oj three months ccn be protided in
cddition to mcternit lecte so thct couples ccn plcn childccre
ejjectitel, it should clso be mcndctor to tcle ct lecst tuo ueels
oj tccction in c ecr.
In Indicn lcu jirms in pcrticulcr, there cre nou quite c jeu
uomen in senior positions, more so thcn one uould jind in jorein
lcu jirms (on c relctite sccle oj course). The lecl projession in
Indic is currentl strulin uith some lecc issues, but in
compcrison to the lecl industries in uestern countries I thinl
ue're motin checd uhen it comes to reconisin tclent cmon
our uomen lcuers. ]
18
2. WOMEN AT WORK
19
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE DECISION
TO ACCEPT A JOB (NON-LITIGATION)
2. 1 FACTORS THAT I NFLUENCE EMPLOYMENT
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Reputation of
the employer
Well maintained and
clean workspace
Compensation package
Policies that favour
work-life balance
Healthy work
atmosphere
Quali of work
50%
54%
56%
56%
65%
71%
We asked respondents to rank a set of factors that inuence their
decision to take up a job based on a rating scale that ranged from
Very Important to Not Important. The bar chart on the le
indicates the percentage of respondents from law rms, companies,
government, and N.G.O.s who rated the factors stated in the chart as
being a Very Important consideration for accepting employment in
a particular organisation.
As the bar chart indicates, the quali of work, a healthy work
atmosphere, and work-life balance rank high among the list of
factors that inuence womens decision to work with a particular
employer. The reputation or the brand of the organisation is
considered only by 50%.
The presence of women in senior positions could indicate that the
employer promotes the growth of women. We were interested in
examining whether this factor inuenced the respondents' decision
while considering a job. 56% of women were aware that their
organisations had women in leadership roles but only 11% said
that this was one of the factors that inuenced their decision to
accept the job oer.
20
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCED
RESPONDENTS TO TAKE UP LITIGATION
We specically asked women in litigation what inspired them to take
up litigation as a career. As the bar chart indicates, women cited a
genuine passion for court practice; the opportuni to
interact with dierent clients and deal with diverse and challenging
maers that impact peoples lives; and the opportuni to read,
understand, and apply the law as factors that inuenced their career
path. For others, the abili to bring about social change was a
determining factor. Court is where the law is interpreted and it is
really exciting. I changed jobs from one that was a ve-day
working comfortable job and well-paying to the crazy life of a
litigator. I have no regrets at all, said a respondent from New Delhi
with over thirteen years of experience.
The independence aorded in practice appealed to most of the
respondents in litigation. The opportuni to develop expertise in
resolving disputes was another signicant araction. An
independent practitioner from Bangalore with over ten years of
experience said, I always found litigation very exciting - the
chance to be in court and argue is very challenging. You get to
meet and represent dierent clients, and meet new people.
Litigation also ensures that you read and understand every nuance
of the law. It gives you the opportuni to bring about social
change.
27%, that is, eight respondents cited encouragement from their
fathers and other family members who were practicing lawyers, as
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Opportuni to work on
challenging cases
Thrill of practice
Opportuni to be
ones own boss
Learning new skills
Adequate vacation time
Flexible work hours
100%
86%
83%
83%
76%
76%
Reputable senior or
law oce
Adequate compensation
for work
62%
62%
100
21
what led them to join practice. For others who had no professional
support in litigation, the marginal pay, especially initially, and the
lack of a professional network made litigation a tough call to pursue.
One respondent, who found the Mumbai litigation market extremely
competitive to survive in, owed her foray into litigation to her
fathers court practice.
As part of this study, we also spoke to Senior Advocates Pinky
Anand and Geeta Luthra, and Advocate Pratibha Singh, all of whom
admied that a supportive and encouraging family is one of the
pre-requisites for a successful career in litigation. According to
Jayna Kothari, an independent practitioner in Bangalore, her
parents were not thrilled with her decision to get back to litigation
aer the birth of her child. For someone who had no other family
members in the profession, litigation may have been a tough choice
to make, but what helped was her husband's support. Interestingly,
we found that seven respondents in litigation were compelled to
take a break from litigation aer childbirth because they did not
have any childcare support options. They also lamented the absence
of crche facilities in the court premises, which delayed their return
to litigation.
Yet, practice also aords women some exibili, since they can take
up less or more work according to their constraints. As one
respondent stated, court holidays gave her ample time to spend with
her family. Another advantage is that unlike working in a law rm or
a company, women in litigation do not have to clock a xed number of
hours. The fact that litigation is not structured around a rigid,
non-negotiable nine-to-ve routine also oers exibili and
independence. The option to dra from home helps women combine
their career and family responsibilities beer.
As Advocate Jayna Kothari points out, even for men who have an
independent court practice, they oen would return home for lunch
or sometimes if they dont need to be back in court, returning home
would also involve taking a nap. Then, they would return in the
evening to meet their clients or continue with their draing work at
home. For women, that exibili during the initial years of their
childs life may work to their benet. They would not have to seek
permission from their bosses or deal with the resentment of their
colleagues. In a law rm or a company a schedule as exible as this
would be construed as working part-time with a signicant impact on
the career progression in the corporate value-chain.
22
WEEKLY WORK HOURS FOR
RESPONDENTS IN COMPANIES
2. 2 WORK HOURS
We asked the women lawyers who participated in the survey about
what their weekly work routine was like and whether they had to
adhere to the billable hours regime. For the majori of the
respondents in litigation practice and in companies, the billable hours
regime was not a method employed to measure performance. As for
respondents working in law rms, their bonuses and promotions
hinged on this. Given the nature of the legal eld however, the direct
correlation between the hours worked and the monetary rewards
holds true across sectors. The billable hours benchmark, however, is
primarily a mode of reviewing performance only in law rms. They
form the single most important component in measuring
performance, especially, in the top-tier big ci law rms. The hours
track the lawyers productivi and maximise prots for law rms.
71-80
hours
0
5
10
15
20
4.76%
9.52%
14.28%
33.33%
25
30
35
61-70
hours
51-60
hours
41-50
hours
23
WEEKLY BILLABLE TARGETS FOR
RESPONDENTS IN LAW FIRMS
71-80
hours
0
5
10
15
20
12.5%
16.66%
25%
25
30
61-70
hours
51-60
hours
41-50
hours
24-40
hours
8.33%
16.66%
WEEKLY WORK HOURS FOR
RESPONDENTS IN LITIGATION WHEN
COURTS ARE IN SESSION
71-80
hours
0
5
10
15
20
6.89%
37.93%
27.58%
25
30
61-70
hours
51-60
hours
41-50
hours
25-40
hours
3.44%
24.13%
35
40
Predictably, most rms have the billable hours regime, unlike
companies, where the billable hours regime was not applicable. The
majori of our respondents in law rms and companies work 41 to
50 hours in a week. Six out of seven respondents working with
statutory authorities, N.G.O.s, and international organisations also
stated that they work 41 to 50 hours in a week.
Interestingly, our study found that women in litigation clocked longer
hours at work (see gure above). The majori of them worked
between 51 and 60 hours in a week since much of their work begins
aer courts close for the day.
24
WEEKLY WORK HOURS WHEN COURTS
ARE ON VACATION
Our data on women litigators work hours suggests that most women
are aorded greater exibili when courts are on vacation (see
graph). The hours of work drop to between 25 and 40 hours when
courts are closed. Some of our respondents categorically stated that
they do not take up any work during this period or work only if
something urgent comes up.
Advocate Jayna Kothari insists that unlike a corporate job that requires
one to clock in at least eight hours a day, court practice allowed one
the freedom to structure the day as per ones convenience. She said,
when my child was small I would nish all my work in the rst half of
the day. I had an idea when my maer would come up for hearing.
Even later, I would be home by the aernoon for an hour to nurse my
daughter and put her to bed. Then get back to court again or for
meetings with my clients.
51-60
hours
0
5
10
15
20
10.34%
41.37%
20.68%
25
30
41-50
hours
25-40
hours
Less than
25 hours
Do not
work
10.34%
35
40
13.79%
45
Courts, especially the higher courts, have fairly long periods of
vacations. Most practicing lawyers use this vacation time to spend
time with their families, update their knowledge on areas of law,
and meet new and current clients. Some who practice in lower
courts, which have shorter periods of vacation, continue their
practice with more time at hand.
25
2. 3 REDUCED HOURS AND PART-TI ME WORK
The option to work reduced hours can help women tide over the initial
pressures that arise aer the expiry of materni leave. It can also help
prevent, to some extent, the exit of women who do not have or cannot aord
external childcare support. In their famous article titled, O-Ramps and
On-Ramps Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, Sylvia Ann
Hewle and Carolyn Buck Luce emphasise the need to retain women and
allow them to return to work by oering exible arrangements. They state
that [t]he trick is to help them maintain connections that will allow them to
come backwithout being marginalized for the rest of their careers.
10

According to them, the creation of reduced-hour jobs will provide women
with demanding lives a way to keep a hand in their chosen eld, short of
full-time involvement.
11

10 Syliva Ann Hewle and Carolyn Buck Luce, O-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, Harvard Business Review on Women in Business, 2005, p.1 at 15.
11 Id
26
HAVE YOU EVER WORKED PART-TIME?
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Law Firms Companies Litigation
Yes No
20.83%
79.16%
4.76%
95.23%
24.13%
75.86%
Others
14.28%
85.71%
We asked respondents if they had ever worked part-time at any point of time in their career and if they had the reasons for doing so. As the gure
above indicates, the majori, that is 67 respondents across all sectors, had never worked part-time in their entire career. Of the 14 women who did,
12 cited having to take care of their child or children as the reason for working reduced hours. One respondent mentioned that she opted for
part-time work as it would allow her the exibili of being with her sons, which would not have been possible if she worked full-time. A litigating
lawyer shared that she worked part-time for almost a year, as the long hours did not suit her and she had a child to look aer. Another respondent in
litigation who is presently working on a part-time basis said, I do not wish to compromise on my daughter's upbringing and therefore choose to
represent only few clients at a given time. This way I have ample time with my daughter and we enjoy each day to the fullest extent possible. The
responses to this question also conrmed that women in litigation, especially women with their own practice, had the liber to work part-time and
enjoyed greater exibili. Nearly 24% of respondents in litigation had worked part-time in their careers.
27
WORKING ON WEEKENDS
2. 4 CARRYI NG WORK HOME AND WORKI NG ON WEEKENDS
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Law rms Companies Litigation Others
Always Frequently Sometimes
25%
54%
21%
67%
29%
31%
28%
34%
7%
71.42%
28.57%
Never
5%
In addition to assessing work hours, we also surveyed how oen women work on weekends and whether they had the exibili to work from home.
We measured the frequency with which women respondents carry work home and work on weekends by having them select between the options:
always, frequently, sometimes, and never.
In contrast to respondents in law rms, companies, and other organisations, 31% of the respondents in litigation always work on weekends. 67% of
women employed in companies and 54% of women in law rms work on weekends sometimes. Overall, most respondents in litigation said that
they work during weekends.
28
0% 0% 0% 0%
CARRYING WORK HOME
Most respondents carried work home. We found that more women in litigation carried work home on a regular basis. 25% of women in law rms
frequently took work home, while only 14% of women in litigation and companies took work home.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Law rms
Always Frequently Sometimes
8%
25%
46%
Never
Companies Litigation Others
76%
10%
21%
14%
52%
17%
85.71%
14.28%
14%
8%
29
0% 0% 0%
FLEXIBILITY TO WORK FROM HOME
2. 5 FLEXI BI LI TY AT WORK
As far as the exibili to work from home is concerned, women in law rms and companies have a higher degree of exibili: 62% of women in law
rms and 52% of women in companies shared that they had the exibili to work from home. This could also be the reason why more women in
companies and law rms occasionally carry work home.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Law rms Companies Litigation Others
Yes No Sometimes
62%
16%
20%
52%
38%
9%
28%
24%
7%
28.57%
42.85%
28.57%
30
We found that for some women, exibili could mean less work or
a dierent work prole at a reduced pay. Others may have complete
exibili to work from home without any change in the pay
structure or career progression. Some women in our study had the
option of working from home on days when there was no
requirement for physical interaction with their team members or
clients. A few women counted working aer the ocial work hours
from home as exibili. For some, being aorded the luxury of
working from home during emergencies qualied as exibili. For
yet others, the option to come in early and leave early was
exibili.
In most cases, exibili, even for a limited period of a womans
working life, comes at the cost of a promotion, pay hike, bonus, or
income. In the case of women in law rms and companies, this
usually aects their promotion or pay, and for women litigators it
could aect their client base. In cases of women working in law
rms, women get derailed from the partnership track into the
mommy track. Even when exibili is being aorded at the cost of
the womens professional lives, women feel indebted to their
employers for retaining them. In a work culture where spending
long hours at work is construed as commitment, ambition, and
performance, women who leave work early or meet their
deliverables from the environment of their homes face the risk of
being discerned as non-performers or not partner material.
Recognition of the fact that longer hours do not imply commitment
or ambition would have a positive impact not merely on womens
lives, but also the lives of men who do not subscribe to that view.
As stated earlier, respondents with an independent practice of their
own shared that they had the exibili to work part-time or work
from home and structure their work to suit their personal
requirements and needs. Other respondents in litigation claimed that
spending the entire day in court up to 5 p.m. when courts are in
session and then working aer court hours, aorded them lile or
no exibili.
Providing exibili however, is not necessarily the norm. One of the
women we interviewed had quit her job because her employer had
refused to let her work from home aer the birth of her child. When
a respondent with more than ve years of experience decided to
re-join her former employer aer a materni break of six years, her
employer refused to allow her to work from home. In a ci like
Mumbai, which is geographically linear, commuting to work takes
more than two hours from the suburbs. The commute from the
northern end of the ci to the southern tip, where most law oces
are located, especially, when there is no court work or client
meeting, proves to be a waste of time. My former employer,
however, failed to see the point. When both the lawyer and the
client are based in the northern part of the ci, why would you
insist on having the meeting in oce, which is located at the other
end of the ci? It is inconvenient for all concerned. New
31
technology and the Internet have made working from home a
practical option.
Employers need to take advantage of existing technology. Instead
of insisting on face-time at the work place, they need to realise
that spending time at the oce does not quali as commitment or
generate beer productivi.
32
WERE YOU AWARE IF THE EMPLOYER
PROMOTED WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
2. 6 WORK-LI FE BALANCE
Does the promise of work-life balance inuence a womans decision to undertake employment? Are women aware if their employers encouraged a
work-life balance at the time of joining the organisation? Does that inuence their decision to join? 46% of women in law rms, companies, statutory
authorities, and N.G.O.s said that they were aware that the organisation did encourage a work-life balance. That this impacted their decision to join is
evident from the second graph. For 55% of the respondents, this was a signicant factor.
Almost an equal number of respondents claimed that they were aware that the organisation did not promote a work-life balance and yet joined the
organisation. For 36% of respondents, the quali and nature of the work the employer oered was an overriding factor.
46% I was aware that they
promoted a work-life balance
12% I was aware that they did not
promote a work-life balance
42% Not aware
DID AWARENESS ABOUT WORK-LIFE
BALANCE INFLUENCE YOUR DECISION
TO ACCEPT EMPLOYMENT?
55% Yes, it was one of the
factors I considered
36% No, I was more interested
in the work they did
9% No, I was oered a
competitive salary
33
AWARENESS OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE
IN LITIGATION
WORK-LIFE BALANCE: WHICH
SITUATION DESCRIBES YOU BEST
45% I was condent that I would
be able to strike a work-life balance
24% I did not consider this aspect
at all
31% I was aware that it would be
dicult to strike a balance
52% Manage to maintain equal
work-life balance
42% Spend more time at work,
but have some work-life balance
6% Other
We also posed the question to women in litigation. 45% of them felt
condent of being able to strike a work-life balance. As the graph
above shows, it is evident that the majori of women in litigation
had considered the diculties involved in striking a work-life
balance as compared to women in other sectors
We also asked the women if they felt they had managed to achieve a
work-life balance.
Out of 81 respondents, approximately 52%, that is, 42 women, felt that
they had managed to maintain an equal work-life balance, while 42%,
that is, 34 women said that they spend more time at work, but have
some work-life balance. Five respondents felt unsure about whether
they have managed to strike a work-life balance. In the words of one
of them, there are bad days, but the object is to nd a solution.
Sometimes I do, sometimes it is a crisis. According to another
respondent, I don't think the balance is at an equal position - in my
situation I try to balance my work within my life.
34
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GIVING UP
LITIGATION TO GIVE MORE ATTENTION
TO YOUR FAMILY?
A few women in litigation who did consider giving up practice had
reasons ranging from the absence of childcare support at home, the
long commute to work, the lack of nancial benets at the start of
their careers, and the surplus of roles - being a mother and a
professional to juggle. For women working with seniors, the lack of
challenging work being allocated to them and the lack of exibili
caused dissatisfaction and made them consider giving up practice.
Many others however, spoke about litigation passionately. One Delhi
lawyer who practiced at the Supreme Court moved her residence
closer to the court and her oce, to keep a watch on her son and to
make trips home during the day. According to her, [l]itigation is more
than a job really- it is a junoon for lack of a beer word to
adequately describe it- I could never opt out, but I think of it oen
enough!
Another respondent who gave up her practice stated that she did so
because of the lack of sanitation, the long working hours, and the lack
of access to nutritious food during her pregnancy. For some others
who considered giving up practice, the time wasted in waiting for
maers and the long hours played a signicant role when they
reconsidered a career in litigation.
Women who continued practice adopted several measures to ease the
pressure. One respondent opted to dra documents for other litigating
lawyers who were short on time. Independent practitioners hired
juniors and other legal support sta to assist them in meeting the
Our study also examined how many of the respondents considered
forsaking their careers or taking pay cuts in order to care for their
families.
Encouragingly, the majori of our respondents responded in the
negative, thus rebuing the myth that women voluntarily or will-
ingly quit their careers because of their inherent desire to serve
their families. Only 10% of women said that the thought of quiing
litigation oen crossed their minds and 31% considered giving up
practice sometimes.
10.3% Oen
31% Sometimes
55.2% Never
3.4% Not answered
35
demands of their work. Many women responded that they multi-task
and utilise their time eectively by planning everything ahead of
time. Others have moved closer to court or converted their home
into an oce, hired support sta to manage their homes and yet
some others have partners who are in the profession, making the
family-professional tug easier to manage. As per one lawyer,
[b]alance is a relative concept. It tilts in dierent angles depending
on a persons perspective. For me, work is a part of a wholesome
life but certainly not all-consuming. For some others, it has meant
limiting the areas of practice or the courts that they practice in. 38%
of the women in litigation said that they would be willing to sele for
a lower pay in lieu of more time spent with their families, and an
equal number said they would not be happy to do so. 24% said that
they might consider the option. 50% of respondents in law rms,
52% of the respondents in companies, and 29% of respondents in
the government and the N.G.O. sector said that they would be willing
to do so.
36
WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO OPT FOR A SALARY CUT IN LIEU OF MORE FAMILY TIME?
Overall, the respondents working in legal departments of companies were more inclined to consider this option. Respondents working with N.G.O.s
and international organisations were less inclined to compromise on remuneration. This could be because the work-life balance equation in these
organisations is beer than that in law rms and companies.
The data clearly indicates that women in law rms and companies face the pressure of combining career and family responsibilities. This calls for
a deeper investigation into the work culture in law rms and companies that cause women to even consider such an option.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Law Firms
Yes No Maybe
50%
25%
13%
Companies Others
33%
10%
29% 29%
43%
52%
37
2. 7 SABBATI CALS AND THEI R REPERCUSSI ONS
We asked women from companies and law rms whether their
employers had a policy on sabbaticals. The majori of women stated
that their rms did not have a policy on sabbaticals. Women
respondents from the same law rms gave contradictory answers,
with some saying that there was a policy on sabbaticals and others
saying there was none. It is evident that in the absence of wrien
policies, most women would not be aware unless they sought the
information from Partners or the Human Resources department. In
certain cases, sabbaticals may be given on an ad hoc basis and that
would depend on the Partners and their equation with an employee.
As for companies, 9 had a policy on sabbaticals while 9 did not
provide the option to go on a sabbatical. Three women respondents
were not working, and therefore answered the question as not
applicable.
Sabbaticals pically mean a break in employment or career. They
could be paid or unpaid. In the private sector, most sabbaticals imply
leave without pay. If the person re-joins employment in the same
organisation, the person is put back on the same career track and
suers no impact on career progression. How one negotiates the
sabbatical depends on the individual and the organisational policy.
Unlike companies, the majori of law rms do not oer women or
men the option of going on a sabbatical. As for women working in
statutory bodies, both the women we interviewed said that there was
a policy of sabbaticals, which had lile or no impact on the careers of
those who opted for them. Sabbaticals are common in academia too,
but not in N.G.O.s. Like government bodies, academic institutions
permit teaching sta to take periodic breaks for personal research or
other reasons.
38
DID GOING ON A SABBACTICAL AFFECT
YOUR OR YOUR COLLEAGUE'S CAREER
IN THE LAW FIRM?
We also asked respondents if they felt that taking a sabbatical had a negative impact on their career or on the careers of colleagues who opted for it.
Encouragingly, a very small percentage of women in companies said that a sabbatical had a negative impact on their or a colleagues career. A larger
percentage of women in law rms, however, felt that taking a sabbatical did have a negative impact on their careers.
This could possibly be so because most companies have well dened policies on sabbaticals, thus making it easier to opt for them without any stigma.
This is not the case in most law rms, which do not have wrien policies and allow for more discretion in such maers.
As for litigation, which has been the dominant career path for most Indian lawyers, the question of a sabbatical for mid-career professionals oen
spells an end of the career. Haripriya Padmanabhan, who practices independently in the Supreme Court explains, [m]any good women lawyers
drop out of the system at some point due to personal or professional reasons. Many take a long break due to personal reasons and by the time
they get back they are no more in the rat race and are not taken seriously by their peers.
DID GOING ON A SABBATICAL AFFECT
YOUR OR YOUR COLLEAGUE'S CAREER
IN THE COMPANY?
19% Yes, the sabbatical did have a negative
impact on my career or my colleagues career
38.1% No, it did not
14.3% N.A.
23.8% Not aware
4.8% Not answered
33.3% Yes, the sabbatical did have a negative
impact on my career or my colleagues career
16.7% No, it did not
37.5% N.A.
8.3% Not aware
4.2% Not answered
39
DOES YOUR ORGANISATION HAVE A
MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME?
As the bar chart indicates, only 38% of the law rms represented by
the women participating in the study had mentorship programmes.
These programmes did not necessarily address the concerns of
working mothers. Some respondents said that they did not feel that
mentoring would aid women, especially mothers, in their professional
growth in the rm. Other respondents felt that mentorship could play a
role in the period of transition, when women return to work aer their
materni leave. One of the respondents said, [m]entoring should also
include the responsibili of identiing common problems and
addressing the same. Mentorship should also be used to arrange for
programmes or training that can help employees achieve their
maximum potential, without compromising on their personal lives.
Only 37% of the companies represented by women participating in the
study had mentorship programmes. In some instances, mentorship
programmes were restricted to new entrants and served more as an
orientation to the organisation. Many women working in companies
felt that mentorship could play a critical role in a womans career.
According to one respondent, besides aiding in networking, it would
help in orchestrating ones growth chart in the organisation.
Some others felt that the programme would aid women in adjusting
to work beer aer pregnancy and cope beer with the work-life
balance.
2. 8 MENTORSHI P
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Law Firms Companies
Yes No
38%
50%
37%
47%
We asked women in law rms and companies if their employers
oered a mentorship programme and what value such a programme
held for women with children.
40
GENDER-BASED QUESTIONS DURING
INTERVIEWS
2. 9 I S THE LEGAL SPACE GENDERED?
Q
u
e
s
t
i
o
n
e
d

a
b
o
u
t
m
a
r
i
t
a
l

s
t
a
t
u
s
Q
u
e
s
t
i
o
n
e
d

a
b
o
u
t
c
h
i
l
d
r
e
n
Q
u
e
s
t
i
o
n
e
d

a
b
o
u
t
p
e
r
s
o
n
a
l

c
o
m
m
i
n
t
m
e
n
t
s
0
20
40
60
80
50%
62%
33%
We asked our respondents from law rms, companies, government,
and N.G.O.s if they had faced questions about their marital status,
children, and personal commitments in the course of job interviews.
50% of women had faced questions on marital status and 62% had
been asked if they had children.
PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENI NG
We also asked whether the responses to these questions had any
negative impact on the outcome of the interview. 50% of the women
who had faced such personal questions felt that it did. For one, it was
positive because when the interviewer learnt that she had two young
children, she was oered an option of working from home. Most
others however, felt that it resulted in a negative outcome.
One of our respondents mentioned that when she appeared for an
interview immediately aer her wedding, the employer doubted her
sinceri and abili to handle the pressure at work and home. Another
respondent, who wished to start working aer her rst child was born,
was asked if she intended on having a second child. In another
instance, an interview ended abruptly when one respondent
mentioned (on being asked if she had children) that she was pregnant
with her rst child. While such questions may be asked to ascertain
whether the prospective employee can work late hours or on
weekends, their appropriateness is highly suspect.
Questions pertaining to marital status and children are illegal in the
United Kingdom. They are considered discriminatory under the
Equali Act, 2010 which requires that an employer
12
or a rm
13
not
12 Section 39(1), Equali Act, 2010 - (1) An employer (A) must not discriminate against a person
(B)(a) in the arrangements A makes for deciding to whom to oer employment; (b) as to the
terms on which A oers B employment;(c) by not oering B employment.
13 Section 44 (1), Equali Act, 2010- A rm or proposed rm must not discriminate against a
person(a) in the arrangements it makes for deciding to whom to oer a position as a partner;
(b) as to the terms on which it oers the person a position as a partner; (c) by not oering the
person a position as a partner.
41
discriminate against an applicant or a prospective partner in the
arrangements they make while deciding on whom to oer, by not
oering employment, or as to the terms of the employment. Similar
restrictions have been imposed in the United States by the Equal
Employment Opportuni Commission.
14
In India however, no such
provisions, regulations, or guidelines exist. Such questions and
reactions appear to endorse the gendered role of women and raise
concerns when they are linked to the capabilities of a woman
applicant.
GENDER BI AS AT THE WORKPLACE
Approximately 36% of the respondents stated that they had
encountered gender bias at some point during their career.
Interestingly, of the 52% of these respondents in companies (that is,
eleven of them), 73% (that is, eight of them) shared that they had
encountered gender bias while working in a law rm.
Women in litigation also spoke of the implicit bias that pervaded
courtrooms. When I was practicing in courts, as a woman, a certain
tone in argument was oen an implicit prerequisite to being given a
fair hearing. When I started working part-time aer my children
were born, clients and colleagues outside my rm perceived me as
not a serious or a real lawyer, said a partner of a law rm based in
Bangalore. Another respondent mentioned how clients choose
female lawyers so that they can pay lesser fees in comparison to
male lawyers.
Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra points out, women lawyers have to
work twice as hard to do half as well. According to Senior Advocate
Pinky Anand, women in litigation have it harder as they have to face
clients, lawyers, and judges, most of whom are males, on a daily
basis. In a way, they have to confront gender bias at several levels. If
a woman raises her voice to make a point, she is discerned to be
cantankerous, not assertive. At times, this perception overshadows
her merit and results in her being labelled aggressive. As Senior
Advocate Anand suggests, the overall mind-set prevailing in Indian
socie also applies to the Indian legal profession that is, women
should be seen and not heard.
The respondents echoed the views of the senior women advocates. A
respondent, who is the General Counsel of a company based in
Bangalore, stated although I do believe there are gender biases, I have
always chosen to prove myself in the companies that I have worked.
Sometimes it means that you work harder than your male
counterparts and sometimes it means that you can never aord to be
absent.
In her autobiography Justice (retd.) Ms. Leila Seth, narrates an instance
14 On its website the U.S. Equal Employment Opportuni Commission states the following under the heading of Pre-employment Inquiries and Gender:Questions about an applicant's sex, (unless it is a bona de
occupational qualication (BFOQ) and is essential to a particular position or occupation), marital status, pregnancy, medical history of pregnancy, future child bearing plans, number and/or ages of children or
dependents, provisions for child care, abortions, birth control, abili to reproduce, and name or address of spouse or children are generally viewed as non job-related and problematic under Title VII. See,
hp://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/inquiries_gender.cfm
42
which highlights the prevailing gender biases at the start of her career.
She was approached for her opinion on a tax maer by a
relative. When the company got to know the opinion had been taken
from a woman lawyer, they insisted on having a proper male
opinion. Decades later, such biases still exist. Respondents in our
study mentioned that they have encountered clients who were more
likely to trust a male with less experience than a woman with more
experience. Clients oen doubt the competence of women lawyers.
Some of our respondents in litigation admied having to constantly
prove their mele and outperform their male peers in order to
command equal if not higher fees. One of our respondents admied to
being hestitant about increasing her fees or charging the same fees as
her male counterparts out of fear of losing her clients. Another
respondent mentioned that as women are not seen as primary bread
winners, clients get away by paying less to women lawyers. In most
cases, women lawyers have to negotiate hard for their fee, which their
male counterparts easily command.
86% of respondents in litigation mentioned that they had not
encountered any bias on the part of judges. 17%, that is, ve women
practitioners from Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, expressly mentioned
that the judges in the High Courts are extremely encouraging.
Approximately 14%, that is, four respondents mentioned that they had
experienced bias on the part of judges in the form of sarcastic remarks
or snubs. One highlighted that judges in the trial courts tend to
undermine the capabilities of women advocates.
NETWORKI NG AND WORK ASSI GNMENT
Networking within the profession, a crucial ingredient of business
development, still remains in the male domain. Informal networks in
oces, like smoking cliques, are oen predominantly male. A lot of
business decisions and work allocation takes place through these
informal networks.
In most rms and companies, at the senior management level,
business development is an important target to be met if one wants to
grow in the rm. One respondent noted that networking and
socialising with the almost entirely male clients for business
development is tougher for women. Even the clients are, in certain
circumstances, uncomfortable while working with women.
Another respondent narrated how she was not assigned work at her
previous workplace -at one point in time I was the only woman in a
litigation team of nine. The other eight were men. I was a victim of
constant ragging and jokes. Maers on media, entertainment and
technology, and sports were invariably alloed to the boys. I
became a patent litigation specialist by default, largely because the
boys did not want to do patents! It was a daily bale! Another
respondent who is currently the proprietor of a law rm mentioned
how her male counterparts received the meatier assignments and
beer remunerations when she started work twen years ago.
43
The common presumption is that women would not want to socialise
or work beyond oce hours. This is possibly, a reason why they oen
are not included in golf games or drinking soirees outside work hours.
A respondent mentioned how she was told that women in the oce
did not deserve their salaries because they frequently took leave to
tend to their children and refused to work beyond oce hours. On the
other hand, another respondent stated how despite being good
performers, women were le out of an emerging team as the client
presumed they would not be able to stretch and work beyond the
mandated hours.
Similarly, in litigation, most networking happens in courts. That is
where most court gossip and trade skills are exchanged. Several
respondents admied that they lost out on work because of not being
seen in court corridors and courtrooms during their materni break.
Advocate Haripriya Padmanabhan shared her story with us -I used to
leave court immediately aer my cases and rush to my baby. This
meant that I was not seen around in court where it maered
namely, the coee shop. Till date, many lawyers ask me if I am back
to work full time when they run into me - largely, because they have
not seen me around too much. Unfortunately, part of the drill of
being successful in our profession is the visibili factor. If Supreme
Court and all courts had crches, many women will be able to work
without having to rush back home or to totally drop out of the
profession.
44
PARITY IN RENUMERATION
71% of the women lawyers in law rms and 81% of them in companies said that there is pari in pay between men and women lawyers in the same
position. In contrast, the opinion of women in litigation was evenly split.
Women are oen perceived as hesitant or reluctant to ask for a pay hike. Only 31% of respondents across all sectors, except litigation, asked for a pay
raise and only 27% asked for a promotion in their entire career.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Law Firms Companies Litigation Others
Yes, there is pari No, there is no pari Not sure
71%
21%
8%
81%
14%
5%
38% 38%
23%
29%
14%
57%
45
BARRIERS AT WORK
We asked women to rank factors that they perceive as barriers to their
professional advancement.
The chart indicates the factors and situations that respondents in law
rms, companies, government, N.G.O.s, and others consider as being
signicant barriers at the workplace. As is evident, an overwhelming
majori of women consider structural issues such as the lack of
exible hours and day care facilities as a critical barrier. It is unlikely
that factors that were rated high on the barrier scale by our
respondents would feature on the list of hindrances to career
advancement by men.
75% of respondents also believed that the absence of women in senior
positions also contributed to the diculties that women face. The
presence of women in management positions can motivate women
lawyers working in the organisation. Moreover, it may also reect the
interest of the employer or the management in promoting the growth of
women in the organisation. The presence of women leaders can also
be benecial for employers as it may help retain talented young women
lawyers and promote diversi within the organisation.
68% of the women ranked marriage as a barrier. This can be a hurdle
for most women, especially in a traditional socie like India, where the
burden of familial obligations is invariably placed on women. The lack
of work policies that encourage men to be equal parents, only
aggravate the pressure on women. Also, women oen relocate aer
marriage; this disrupts their careers, especially when it involves moving
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Lack of exible hours
100
Lack of day care
Pressures to start a family
Absence of women in management
Lack of good materni policy
Problem with superiors
Marriage
Sexism
Problems with colleagues
90%
85%
77%
75%
69%
69%
68%
58%
52%
46
to another ci or country.
Sure, childcare and family responsibilities may be considered
personal pressures, but they translate into barriers if policies do not
take into account the needs and requirements of working fathers
and mothers. This claim is fortied by the fact that 69% of
respondents rated materni policies as a problem area.This suggests
that employers end up endorsing the gender stereope that child-
care is primarily the womans responsibili by not having policies
that take into account the parental obligations of their
employees.
47
HARIPRIYA PADMANABHAN
graduated from National Law School of India
University in 1998 and have been litigating in Delhi
since December 1998. I have been very fortunate as I
have worked under three fantastic bosses. The first being Ms
Pallavi Shroff under whom I worked for 3 years, the second was
Mr C.S.Vaidyanathan, Senior Advocate where I worked for 7
months and the third being Mr K.K.Venugopal, Senior Advocate
where I worked for almost 6 years. The experience and exposure I
gained and the independence inculcated in me over the ten years
in these three offices have held me in good stead.
I have been practicing independently since January 2008. As far
as getting cases as an independent lawyer, I have so far not faced
much difficulty owing to my gender. Although, sometimes I do feel
that had I been a man I may have managed to generate far more
work. However, the main disappointment arises when
independent practitioners and law firms are happy to engage
male lawyers as junior counsels in matters and to argue some of
their cases, the same alacrity is not shown to women who wish to
be counsels and not solicitors. This is where I feel my gender
impedes my career growth as I am not interested in being a
solicitor but a junior counsel now and eventually an arguing
counsel in mainstream work. Again, I find that some lawyers and
clients are happy to entrust work to me to argue as well, if it
I NDE PE NDE NT PRAC T I T I ONE R, NE W DE L HI
"I
48
pertains to women's rights, child rights etcetera but not when it is
a mainstream commercial case. I have declined these cases time
and again as I do not want to be slotted as another woman
counsel who only does activist matters.
The entire legal system needs a change of heart to accept women
counsels and encourage them. Even many women solicitors
unfortunately I find do not engage women lawyers for arguing or
to act as a junior counsel. Unfortunately when I see the women in
the profession around me I realise that
many good women lawyers drop out of
the system at some point due to
personal or professional reasons. Many
take a long break due to personal
reasons and by the time they get back
they are no more in the "rat race" and
are not taken "seriously" by their peers.
I had my daughter almost two years
ago and most lawyers expected me to take a long break after my
daughter was born. However, I was back in action in two months.
But this has been very difficult. The Supreme Court of India where
majority of my practice is does not have a crche. So there is no
place to leave your baby while you are in court. I used to leave my
daughter with my maid in the Supreme Court car park till she
was almost 7 months. It is only after that I started leaving her at
home alone with the maid. But even now I feel if the Supreme
Court had a crche it would make my life and the lives of so many
women lawyers easy. Again it is only because I can afford a maid
that I could even think of continuing work since my family and
my husband's family does not live in Delhi. Many other women
may not be able to afford this and it forces them to take a break.
Of course, the fact that my husband is also a lawyer played a huge
role in the resumption of my work.
After my child was born, I used to
leave court immediately after my
cases . This meant that I was not
"seen around" in court where it
mattered - namely the coffee shop. So
even till date many lawyers ask me if
I am back to work full time when
they run into me since they haven't
seen me around that much. Unfortunately part of the drill of
being successful in our profession is the visibility factor. If the
Supreme Court and all courts had crches so many women will be
able to work in peace without having to rush back home or to
totally drop out of the profession. Other than a crche, if there
were more certainty in which cases are likely to be taken up on a
Unfortunately part of the
drill of being successful
in our profession is the
visibility factor.
49
given day and heard, it would again not only help the women but
everyone. A system should be evolved to ensure that all lawyers
know at least approximately if a case on the list is likely to be
taken up and if so when so that the general inefficiency dogging
the system can be addressed. |
50
JAYNA KOTHARI
completed my B.A.LL.B. from Bangalore University
and then went on to do the B.C.L. from Oxford, facing
much opposition from home. Upon completing my
Masters, I started working in Delhi in the Supreme Court with
Senior Counsel Indira Jaising. Taking the decision to join her was
partly because she was a feminist lawyer and was successful in
her practice. I saw how judges even in the Supreme Court would
often tolerate the humiliation of women counsels by male counsels
and she never tolerated such treatment. It was truly a learning
experience to be with her so early on in my career and I think I
learnt to be confident and fearless in court, because of my
training with her.
After working with her for two years in the Supreme Court in
Delhi, I moved back to Bangalore, where my family was based. I
started working in a litigation firm, Holla and Holla where I
worked for one and a half years and appeared regularly in the
Karnataka High Court. Then in 2003 I decided to leave and start
my own practice. I started my own firm Ashira Law in 2003 and
in 2010 also started a research organisation called the Centre for
Law and Policy Research in Bangalore. Indira Jaising was a
great mentor and inspiration to me. My first two years working
with her were excellent training. She related to me her
own experiences and hurdles as a woman lawyer. I do not think
I NDE PE NDE NT PRAC T I T I ONE R, B ANGAL ORE
"I
51
that the fact that I am a woman has had any impact on my career
and work life. At Holla and Holla, the firm had only 2-3 female
lawyers and I was one of them. In Bangalore, gender can be a
barrier to networking at times, particularly in the Bar, which is
quite conservative, male, and Kannada speaking.
I strongly believe that women need the support of other women
women judges, women lawyers, women bosses, and colleagues. It
is important to have female role models for younger women
starting out in their career to believe that success in the Bar is
achievable. Women lawyers are different from the traditional
male senior counsels and that is why women role models are so
important.
Right now my firm consists of an all-woman lawyers team. I am
very supportive of women who have families and allow for part
time or flexi working. However this does not mean that I
accommodate mediocrity at work. We need women to support
each other, and also to push the bar for merit and quality in work.
Striking a work-life balance is difficult in any sector for men and
women who prioritise their family time. In litigation I think it is
much easier to strike a work-life balance because court work is
flexible to an extent, court timings are easy and there are court
vacations! I do a full day at work and come back home after court
work at 5 and then continue working from home in the evening. I
am able to manage my client meetings, which I often schedule at
9.00 a.m. or in the afternoons, so that I am able to leave by 5. It
means that I stay up at nights working, but I don't mind as I am
able to spend the entire evening with my daughter.
I think firms should adopt flexi timings to make the sector more
women-friendly and to enable women to join the Bar. Litigation
can be much more flexible than a corporate law firm job! |
52
3. MATERNITY BENEFIT POLICIES AND THE
IMPACT OF MOTHERHOOD ON
THE CAREER
53
INFORMING EMPLOYERS ABOUT PREGNANCY
42% of the respondents in law rms informed their employer in the rst trimester, while 38% waited until the rst trimester was over. As for women
in companies, 71% of respondents intimated their employers in the rst trimester itself.
3. 1 I MPACT OF PREGNANCY ON CAREER
71% In the rst trimester
24% Aer the rst trimester was over
5% N.A.
42% In the rst trimester
38% Aer the rst trimester was over
21% N.A.
54
Law rms Companies
IMPACT OF INFORMING EMPLOYER
ABOUT PREGNANCY
Does pregnancy aect womens careers? We asked respondents in
law rms and companies if pregnancy had an unfavourable impact
on their careers. They chose from the following options:
1. that it adversely aected their bonus and promotion;
2. that it resulted in a reduction of late nights at the oce;
3. that it resulted in re-allocation of work so as to reduce their
workload; and
4. that it had no impact.
The majori of the women in law rms and companies believed
that informing their employer about their pregnancy aected their
bonus and promotion, or led to reallocation of work, or reduction in
late nights, or more than one of these consequences.
This reduction or reallocation of work though, would have had an
impact on the bonus and promotion of women. More women in law
rms felt that their pregnancy had an adverse impact on their bonus
and promotion than women in companies. This may have been
because of the greater emphasis on billable hours in law rms as
opposed to companies. It adversely aected my promotion, since
my boss felt that I would not be able to handle the additional
responsibili of the promotion, with a child on the way, said a
respondent working with a law rm. A respondent working with a
company felt that she was not entitled to a promotion because her
pregnancy meant that she would be working less than before.
0 10 20 30 40 50
Reduction of
workload
Adversely
aected bonus
and promotions
Reduction of
late nights at
the oce
Law rms
Companies
21%
24%
21%
14%
No impact
37.5%
48%
21%
14%
55
A signicant number of respondents felt that there was no impact
on their career or growth in the rm. 48% of women in companies
were of the view that there was no impact on their careers as
opposed to 37.5% of women in law rms.
Out of the seven respondents in academia, N.G.O.s, and government,
three respondents felt that there was no impact on their careers
while others felt that it aected their promotion, resulted in reduced
work hours, and reduced responsibilities, respectively.
We also asked respondents if they faced any problems at work
during the term of their pregnancy. Three respondents working in
law rms mentioned that they faced insensitive behaviour from a
partner or a client. This included being forced to travel in the
third-trimester of pregnancy or being denied the option to work
from home in a risky pregnancy. A larger number of respondents in
companies felt that their bosses and colleagues were understanding
and accommodative of their needs during their pregnancy.
For respondents in litigation the impact was rather severe. For
approximately 59%, pregnancy spelt reduction of clients and loss of
work as it aected their visibili in courts. One independent
practitioner said that her inabili to go to court even on days she
had no arguments meant that she was no longer spending time in
the library or the courtrooms. As a result judges stopped appointing
her as amicus as they did not see her in court. That being seen in
court is an important part of practice is a fact that many litigating
women lawyers laid emphasis on.

One respondent shared that she discontinued practice at the onset
of the fourth month of her pregnancy because of the long working
hours, the lack of adequate or separate elevators, unsanitised
toilets, and the bad conditions of roads. Another respondent
discontinued working because she could not cope with the travel
involved. Respondents who were aached to a senior or a law rm
complained of inexible policies and the insistence of being present
in oce at all times that led them to quit during their pregnancy.
56
WRITTEN POLICIES ON MATERNITY LEAVE
WRI TTEN POLI CI ES
Most organisations have policies on parental leave. The policies may be wrien or unwrien. We asked our respondents about whether the
organisations they were presently employed with or last employed with had wrien policies on materni benets, including leave. The graph above
indicates the responses received from women lawyers across 16 law rms, 19 companies, two statutory bodies, four N.G.O.s and international
organisations, and one academic institution. Respondents belonging to the same organisation have been counted as one for the purpose of this graph.
3. 2 PARENTAL LEAVE POLI CI ES
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Law rms Companies Others
Yes No Not sure
37%
44%
18.75%
95%
5%
71%
14% 14%
100
57
0%
Typically, respondents working in companies stated that a wrien
policy existed. In the case of law rms however, a substantial
number of rms, that is, seven out of 16, do not have a wrien
policy, although they provide for materni leave. Some rms we
contacted as part of the study responded stating that they had no
such structured policies on materni or paterni leave, largely
because such a situation had not arisen yet or that they were too
small an organisation.
In the absence of wrien policies, materni leave, extensions,
and exible work arrangements have to be negotiated on an
individual basis. A wrien policy will help ensure clari on
procedure, duration, extension, exibili, and adoption leave,
and also insulate the organisation against claims of bias or
discretion in this regard.
DURATI ON OF MATERNI TY LEAVE
We asked our respondents about the duration of materni leave
provided by the organisations they are currently working with.
62.5% of the law rms and 74% of the companies as represented
through the respondents appear to provide 12 weeks of materni
leave.
Three rms and companies appear to have provided women
lawyers with longer materni leave. One law rm based in
Bangalore provides women the option of twen-four weeks
materni leave on half pay. The statutory authorities however, provide
women employees with twen-four weeks of paid materni leave.
DURATION LAW FIRMS COMPANIES STATUTORY
AUTHORITIES
N.G.O.S AND
INTERNATIONAL
ORGANISATIONS
12 weeks
16 weeks
18 weeks
24 weeks
Not aware
10
1
1
1 (on halfpay)
3
13
2
-
1
2
-
2
2
2
1
58
DURATI ON OF PATERNI TY LEAVE
Women from eight law rms, twelve companies, two statutory
authorities, and two N.G.O.s stated that their oces provided for
paterni leave. The duration of paterni leave ranges from two
working days to four weeks. The data shows that few organisations
give paterni leave longer than een days, thus imposing the
responsibili of parenting entirely on women.
DURATION LAW
FIRMS
COMPANIES STATUTORY
AUTHORITIES
N.G.O.S AND
INTERNATIONAL
ORGANISATIONS
2 working days
5 working days
7 working days
10 days
15 days/ 2 weeks
1
1
3
3
2
1
2
3 2 1
4 weeks 1
DURATI ON OF LEAVE FOR ADOPTI VE PARENTS
Only three respondents (two from companies and one from an
international organisation) stated that their organisation allowed
adoption leave. The remaining respondents were largely unsure about
whether the existing materni leave policy would apply to those who
adopt a child.
59
3. 3 EXTENSI ON OF MATERNI TY LEAVE
We surveyed how many women applied for an extension or additional
leave aer the materni leave had expired. Approximately, 42% of
respondents working in law rms and 57% of respondents working in
companies, and one respondent each working with a statutory
authori and a N.G.O. sought an extension aer the expiry of the
materni leave provided by their employer. Of the ten respondents in
law rms, nine received an extension without any hesitation from the
organisation or their boss and in the case of respondents in
companies, all except one received extensions without hesitation.
All the respondents in law rms and 52% of the respondents in
companies who extended their leave were on a no-pay extension.
10% of the respondents in companies used their accumulated leave
during the extension period.
We found that the number of days or weeks of extension sought for
depended on the duration of materni leave - the shorter the
materni leave period, the higher the possibili of women seeking an
extension.
We also asked whether the duration of materni leave was equal for
all or depended on factors such as seniori, length of service, or
proximi to the management. Appreciably, 52% of our respondents
stated that materni leave and extensions were available to all
without any favour or discrimination. Only about 8% of respondents
stated that it depended on personal equations with the management
and the length of service with the organisation.
DURATION OF
EXTENSON
RESPONDENTS
IN LAW FIRMS
RESPONDENTS
IN COMPANIES
OTHERS
15 days - 4 weeks
5 weeks - 8 weeks
9 weeks - 16 weeks
17 weeks - 28 weeks
1 year
1
1 1
4
1
1
2
3
4
1
5
60
REASONS FOR BREAK AFTER
MATERNITY LEAVE
The primary reasons for taking a break appear to be the absence of
reliable childcare support options and the desire to be with the child.
While only 10% of women expressly listed inexibilities at the
workplace as a reason for the break, the other reasons, such as long
hours of work and the absence of childcare support facilities, also
point to the inadequacies of measures taken by the employer to
accommodate the needs of working mothers.
About 79% of respondents in litigation, that is, 23 of them, took a
break aer childbirth. The duration of the break ranged from six
weeks to six years. The reasons for the break were mostly to look
aer their child, nurse the child, and to avoid the stress associated
with litigation. 7% of the respondents cited the lack of understanding
and exibili on the part of senior lawyers and the absence of crches
within the court premises as reasons why they chose to delay
returning to work. 14% of them mentioned that they had to delay
returning to work as there was no support available at home to look
aer the child.
3. 4 BREAK AFTER MATERNI TY LEAVE
Around 38% of the respondents from law rms, companies,
statutory authorities, and N.G.O.s took a break from work aer their
materni leave expired. The reasons for doing so ranged from the
desire to be with their child, the absence of child support options,
the lack of exibili oered by the employer, and their
unwillingness to work long hours.
0
10
20
30
40
T
o

b
e

w
i
t
h
t
h
e

c
h
i
l
d
N
o

e
x
i
b
i
l
i

a
t

w
o
r
k
U
n
w
i
l
l
i
n
g

t
o

w
o
r
k
l
o
n
g

h
o
u
r
s
N
o

c
h
i
l
d
c
a
r
e
s
u
p
p
o
r
t

o
p
t
i
o
n
s
50
60
70
60%
10%
25%
50%
DURATION OF
BREAK
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
6 weeks
3 months
4 months
5 months
6 months
4
2
3
2
1
LENGTH OF BREAK TAKEN BY
WOMEN IN LITIGATION
DURATION OF
BREAK
NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS
1 year
1.5 years
2 years
6 years
2
6
1
5
LENGTH OF BREAK TAKEN BY
WOMEN IN LITIGATION
61
REASONS FOR RESUMING WORK
3. 5 RESUMPTI ON OF WORK
Most women who resumed work in law rms and companies did so
primarily due to the desire to return to work, the need for nancial
independence, the availabili of good child-care support, and
nancial pressures.
The desire to return to work ranked highest among reasons for
resuming their careers. This was followed by the need for nancial
independence and the availabili of good child-care support. Few
women returned to work owing to nancial pressure. For
respondents in litigation, the reason for resuming their practice was
largely owing to their desire to return to work, and the love for
litigation, combined with nancial pressures.
0
20
40
60
F
i
n
a
n
c
i
a
l
i
n
d
e
p
e
n
d
e
n
c
e
F
i
n
a
n
c
i
a
l
p
r
e
s
s
u
r
e
D
e
s
i
r
e

t
o

r
e
t
u
r
n
t
o

w
o
r
k
A
v
a
i
l
a
b
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l
i


o
f
g
o
o
d

c
h
i
l
d

c
a
r
e
s
u
p
p
o
r
t
35% 19%
52%
31%
DID YOU RESUME WORK AT THE SAME
ORGANISATION WHERE YOU WORKED
BEFORE CHILDBIRTH?
Most women preferred returning to a familiar work environment, as
opposed to starting in a new or unknown place of work aer
childbirth. 87% of those respondents who changed their jobs cited
exibili oered by their new employer in the form of reduced
hours, the work from home option, and xed hours as reasons for
doing so. One respondent shared: I gured that if I was paid
hourly for the work I do, and did not have a xed monthly pay,
then there would be less pressure on me. I could accept or decline
work depending on the deadlines expected and my abili to meet
them under my circumstances.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Companies Law rms
Yes No
57%
29%
54%
21%
62
DID YOU CONSIDER JOINING A DIFFERENT FIRM OR COMPANY WITH MORE
REASONABLE WORKING HOURS?
Most women who joined back said the employer provided them various kinds of exibili, like allowing them to leave early or work from home, or
made crche facilities available. However, the exibili came along with a reduction in pay for most respondents. A woman working in a senior
position in a leading law rm appreciated the crche facili in her organisation. She said, [t]he day care facili enabled me to take my baby with
me to oce. The crche is professionally run and exceeds my expectations. I can meet my baby during work hours as well.
More than 50% of women in law rms and companies did not consider changing their jobs for beer working hours. Most preferred to work in the
same place with the exibili aorded to them. Only 10% of the respondents surveyed switched sectors aer the birth of their rst child. Three
respondents moved from law rms to companies, three from litigation to law rms, one from litigation to a company, and one from a company to a
statutory authori.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Yes No
Law Firms Companies
17%
29%
58%
57%
N.A.
25%
14%
63
WERE YOU BREASTFEEDING YOUR
CHILD WHEN YOU RESUMED WORK?
3. 6 TRANSI TI ON FROM MATERNI TY TO WORK
NURSI NG
The majori of women in companies, law rms, and litigation
practice were nursing their children at the time of joining work
again. We asked them if they had to stop breastfeeding aer joining
work. Overall, 38% of respondents said that they had to reduce the
number of feeds upon resuming work.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Law rms Comapnies
Yes Somtimes
37.5%
21%
57%
10%
Litigation
38%
21%
64
DID YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO BREASTFEED DURING WORK HOURS?
We also asked if employers oered any support that enabled respondents in rms and companies to nurse their baby during work hours. We asked
respondents in litigation if they had the option to bring their baby to court or the chamber during work hours.
The majori of women across all three sectors stated that they did not have the option to nurse their child during work hours. For women in law
rms and companies, the absence of crche facilities and nursing breaks hindered the number of feeds. Most women in N.G.O.s and statutory
institutions also stated that they had no option to bring the baby to work.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Law Firms
Yes Sometimes No
17% 17%
67%
Companies Litigation
43%
14% 14%
72%
19%
70
80
65
0%
WAS THE TRANSITION FROM MATERNITY TO WORK EASY?
DI FFI CULTI ES FACED DURI NG TRANSI TI ON
We asked women across all sectors to share if the transition from materni to work was easy or dicult.
Although a signicant percentage of women returned to the same workplace aer materni leave, 42% of respondents in law rms and 24% of
respondents in companies found the transition from materni leave to joining work dicult. More women in companies found the transition easier
(48%) than women in law rms (33%) and litigation (41%). An equal number of women in N.G.O.s and statutory institutions found the transitions
dicult and easy. The transition appears to be toughest for women in litigation.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Law Firms Companies Litigation
Yes No
33%
42%
48%
24%
41%
59%
66
FACTORS THAT MADE TRANSITION DIFFICULT
Women who found the transition dicult cited the following reasons:
1. Circumstances were created to compel them to leave the organisation;
2. They felt out of touch with the latest developments in the area of their work;
3. They were struggling to clock-in a regular workday;
4. Their boss was reluctant to allocate important client work to them; and
5. They felt undervalued.
Other factors that made the transition hard were compulsions, such as travelling on work, an unaccommodating senior, and their commitment to work
being questioned.
Alarmingly, a signicant number of respondents stated that circumstances were created to compel them to leave the organisation. This points towards a
hostile aitude towards working mothers and an unwillingness to accommodate and appreciate their needs and constraints. The refusal to grant
exibilities and allocate signicant work to them also added to their diculties.
0
10
20
30
40
Circumstances
were created
that compelled
one to quit
Felt out of touch
with the
latest developments
in law
Struggled to clock-in
a regular work day
Boss was reluctant
to allocate
important client
work
Felt undervalued
31%
25%
13% 12% 12%
67
Where the transition to work was easy, it was largely owing to the
following reasons:
1. A brief orientation about the work that took place during their
absence;
2. Reduced responsibilities;
3. Option of exible hours;
4. Option to work from home;
5. No compulsion to travel on work; and
6. Being valued for the work done.
As for women litigators, 59% of them found the transition to work
dicult. Those who found it easy, credited it to family support,
child-care help, having an independent practice, and a relatively
short break from work. An additional factor that worked in favour of
some was having a spouse in the same profession.Those who found
it dicult cited the absence of reliable childcare support, fatigue,
concern for the well-being of the child, and having lost touch with
the practice. Liz Mathew, an Advocate-on-Record in the apex court,
had her rst child immediately aer she commenced her
independent practice. She shares how she dealt with it - [t]he lack
of a crche in Supreme Court made life dicult with my car in the
Supreme Court parking lot doubling as a crche and my friends
taking turns to lend a hand.
SUPPORT FROM COLLEAGUES
We found that the majori of women in law rms and corporates
who resumed work found their colleagues supportive. This includes
males and female colleagues. Most women felt that colleagues with
children were more supportive. The majori, that is, 50% of
respondents in law rms and around 62% in companies did not
think their colleagues doubted their commitment because they
worked exible hours.
A small percentage of women who were allowed exibili were of
the view that their commitment and abili to work was questioned.
One respondent shared that her colleagues had oen voiced that a
woman's inabili to work late or work on exible terms was a
nuisance. Another spoke of the lack of support from senior women
lawyers in the oce. Many senior women lawyers who have made
a mark for themselves in a male dominated profession expect the
younger generation of women lawyers to endure the same trials and
tribulations without challenging the standards of work and success
that are premised on the male breadwinner model.
68
WERE YOUR COLLEAGUES SUPPORTIVE WHEN YOU RETURNED TO WORK?
0
10
20
30
40
50
Yes No Not sure
Law rms Companies
54.2%
66.7%
4.2%
N.A.
37.5%
28.6%
4.8%
60
70
4.2%
Women in N.G.O.s, academia, and in government positions felt that their commitment to work was questioned when they worked from home. Overall,
26% of women felt that their promotion or growth in the organisation would be aected or coloured by their colleagues opinions.
Litigation, on the other hand, requires additional coordination and networking. This holds true particularly for sole practitioners. Most respondents on
their materni break, managed work by transferring cases to colleagues they know in practice or in their rm if they worked in an oce, or handed
cases to their junior.
The majori of respondents in litigation relied on their peers who obtained adjournments on their behalf and handled their clients during the
materni break. A negligible percentage of women did not receive any support from their colleagues in practice. This, of course, is dependent on
how well women, particularly independent practitioners, are networked in the court halls.
69
0%
YES, THE MATERNITY BREAK HAD
AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON MY CAREER
Women working in law rms appear to be the worst aected, followed
by women in litigation. 21% of respondents in rms mentioned that
they had lost out on their promotion despite being due for one. One
among them even lost out on a partnership. For others, it delayed the
assumption of new responsibilities or led to reduced involvement in
strictly transaction-based work. In the absence of any orientation by
the employer aer resuming work, some struggled with seling back
into the work environment.
Two respondents expressly spoke about having received
discriminatory treatment upon return from materni leave. They were
denied a promotion despite having worked during their pregnancies
and resuming work immediately aer materni leave. According to
them, merit should be a decisive factor for promotions, and having a
child should not be perceived as a disadvantage or a liabili.
Another respondent working in a law rm described the reasons that
eventually compelled her to opt out. She commented, [t]he
workplace is designed on an assumption that there is someone else
around to take care of family. This works for men, but not for
women, as we dont have wives. Raising a baby is an intense, tiring,
and non-stop commitment, as intense, tiring, and unending as being
a partner leading deals in a law rm. Flexible working hours were no
answer as working sixteen hours a day and being on call seven days
a week is what prevented me from being able to take care of my
baby and doing those hours from home rather than from the oce
3. 7 I MPACT OF MOTHERHOOD ON CAREER
What is the impact of materni leave or a brief break on the
promotion or career of Indian women lawyers? 54% of the total
number of women lawyers admied that materni break adversely
aected their career.
0
10
20
30
40
L
a
w

r
m
s
C
o
m
p
a
n
i
e
s
L
i
t
i
g
a
t
i
o
n
N
.
G
.
O
.
s
50
60
70
80
75%
43%
52%
20%
70
made lile dierence as spending time with my baby was
concerned. Add to that, the 30% pay reduction and freeze on
promotion to equi despite logging in the same billable hours as
earlier and continuing to bring in business for the rm - it just did
not seem worthwhile to continue. This view was also echoed by
another respondent who summed up the law rm culture and its
impact on women the current assumption is that anyone working
in the rm is available 24/7 and family and other things are taken
care of by someone else - that default someone else is invariably the
woman because men are not prepared to step up and their rms are
even less likely to be supportive to them than to women lawyers for
time taken with family. So, obviously, once family responsibilities
become pressing, continuing work on that assumption becomes
unviable.
The primary responsibili for childcare and the care of other family
members is invariably placed on women. This is especially true for
women with young children. The refusal on the part of employers to
provide for a work from home option or exible work arrangements
was also highlighted as being one of the problems faced by a
respondent working in a company that eventually led her to quit.
Another respondent had to decline an oer to head a unit because she
could not commit to work the long hours that the job would inevitably
demand of her.
Some respondents who had recently resumed work aer their
materni break were unsure of the impact. One respondent said,
due to my reduced involvement in strictly legal or transaction
based work, I am not sure how this will impact my career growth
path should I wish to leave this organisation.
Women in litigation suered substantially as their peers got
ahead.They lost out on clients who preferred to opt for lawyers who
were available. Their absence from chambers aected their earnings.
In the words of one of the respondents, the work ow was cut as
clients were not sure whether I would be able to manage work.
There was a perception that I would not be regular in court, which I
had to combat by simply being in court even when there was really
nothing much to do.
Another respondent said, [f]or about a year and odd aer the baby, I
was in court only when I was needed, due to which there was a
perception that I was not serious about my practice. Lack of a proper
crche was a big problem during this periodSo, I used to bring her
in the car with me and the child would be in the car parking lot for
hours when I had to be in Court. Some of my other colleagues, who
had babies, also followed the same routine..
Another respondent shared how the credit for the work she did before
she went on materni leave was given to her colleague who took
over from her.
71
We believe that it will be unfair to say that motherhood has had an
adverse impact on the career of women in the legal sector. Instead, it
is the workspace that is centred on the ideal male worker that is the
problem. Organisations operating from this standpoint invariably view
women as primary caregivers and exibilities as a favour. Women who
fail to meet work-hour expectations oen suer the consequences in
the form of reduced bonuses, denied promotions, and unchallenging
work.
72
raduating from NLSIU, Bangalore in 2001, I
worked as a retainer with Reliance Industries at
Mumbai for three years where I was doing
mostly corporate and some litigation and arbitration work with
the General Counsel, Reliance Industries, Mr Atul Dayal. The
exposure here was interesting and diverse but in a while led me to
the clear decision that I wanted to switch over completely to
litigation. Thereafter I got married in 2004 and moved to Delhi.
I started practice with Ms. Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate who
was then an Advocate on Record. In 2007, I moved to K.K.
Venugopal, Senior Advocate's office for an exposure to counsel
practice. This was an immensely learning experience and a huge
privilege to work with such a fine legal mind and an even finer
human being.
Both my Seniors were exacting in their work and expected the
same output from their male and female juniors and this has set
the tone for the rest of my career where I do not expect any
indulgence because I am a woman nor am I willing to be taken
less seriously because I am a woman.
In 2008, I qualified as an Advocate on Record and commenced
independent practice - and with it came the leisure to have a
"G
73
LIZ MATHEW
I NDE PE NDE NT PRAC T I T I ONE R,
DE L HI HI GH C OURT
baby! Given my husband is an advocate practicing at Supreme
Court, I did not have to refuse any work that came to me. The
stage of career with an infant was challenging but litigation gave
much flexibility. The lack of a crche in Supreme Court made life
difficult with my car in the Supreme Court parking lot doubling as
a crche and my friends taking turns to lend a hand.
Today a lady lawyer in Supreme Court is no novelty and thanks
to the fine women lawyers before us who cleared the path for us
through prejudices, until now I have not faced any challenge
owing to being a woman. But even today being a lady Senior
Advocate is still a novelty and Im reminded of a quote from
Charlotte Whitton Whatever women do they must do twice as
well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not
difficult. |
74
fter passing out of National Law School of India
University, Bangalore, in 1997, I started my
career in Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A.
Shroff & Co., New Delhi where I was a partner till December
2005. I have been heading the Capital Markets team at Luthra &
Luthra Law Offices since February, 2006. Capital markets and
fund raising transactions has been my forte and I have led more
than seventy capital market transactions.
Over the years, I have advised some of the largest Indian
transactions in the domestic and international markets, such as,
the Initial Public Offer of Coal India Limited, MOIL Limited, Oil
India, and Jaypee Infratech Limited and the successful follow on
public offerings of EIL, NTPC, and REC to name a few.
I do not believe that gender has made any difference in my career
as a corporate lawyer. That said, it would be unjust of me not to
give due credit to my husband who has been extremely supportive
of me pursuing my career. It is crucial that a woman finds an
effective support system from her family members as it is more
often than not a real challenge to strike a balance between a
successful career and a normal family life.

Also, mentoring is a necessary part of the journey of becoming a
"A
MADHURIMA MUKHERJEE
PART NE R, L UT HRA & L UT HRA
75
good corporate lawyer. Addressing legal issues and gaining
commercial perspective on transactions are some things that
cannot be taught in law school and therefore it is but natural for
me to acknowledge the huge role that, Mr. Shardul Shroff,
Partner at Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff& Co.,
New Delhi and the then Senior Associates Ms. Gopika Pandit and
Mr. Piyush Gupta played in my professional life.
I believe that a firm has the responsibility to put in place effective
measures to sustain the growth and development of female
lawyers, especially from conservative backgrounds. However, it
is important that women do not misuse the leeway given to them
nor use their family and children as an excuse to shirk their
professional responsibilities.

The active involvement of the employer to make the workplace
more female friendly is a crucial ingredient to achieve the fine
balance between ones personal and professional space. Simple
yet effective policies such as flexible work timings and
transparent evaluation systems would go a long way in ensuring
higher participation of women over a longer period of time so as
to obviate their current underrepresentation in senior leadership
roles. It is important that women today work towards an
understanding that having a family and children should not be
used as an excuse to neglect their work. This ongoing juggling
between family and work is never pleasant and making adequate
arrangements such as a crche in the workplace would be a
welcome change for all working mothers. That said, it would also
be refreshing to have the option of going on a slow track career
path, especially for working mothers, which would give them an
opportunity to prioritise without having to completely isolate
themselves from work and other professional obligations. |
76
KOSTURI GHOSH
stcrted m ccreer ct Trilecl in zooz, strciht cjter
rcductin jrom ILS in Pune cnd todc I cm proud to
be c Pcrtner sittin clonside the people uho helped me
et there. It hcs been :o ecrs in the jirm cnd oj course, there
hcte been ood cnd trin times. I ucs clucs sure cs c student
thct I didn't ucnt to stcrt m ccreer in c trcditioncl Indicn set up
cnd I ucs lcd thct I tool c punt on c oun lcu jirm uith hihl
motitcted people beccuse it mcde me uhct I cm todc.
The Indicn lecl jrcternit is trcditioncll mcle-domincted, but
times hcte chcned to c rect extent. Trilecl is c proressite lcu
jirm cnd to the credit oj the Pcrtners thct I uorled uith, I ucs
neter trected dijjerentl beccuse oj m ender. As cn excmple,
mcn uomen todc beliete thct the should be trected uith more
lenienc ij the cre mcrried. I do not necesscril cree beccuse b
thct loic, mcrried men should be clloued the scme lenienc.
Contrcr to populcr beliej, I thinl bein c uomcn is cn
cdtcntce beccuse uomen cre better ct mutli-tcslin. ut oj
course, thct's uhere bclcnce plcs cn importcnt pcrt. I lneu it
ucs neter oin to be ecs to cchiete this utopicn concept oj
`bclcnce'. I hcte come to reclise thct it is not cbout c o-o
cpprocch. The le is quclit time - uhether uorlin or uith the
jcmil. M hcppiest dcs cre uhen I uorl hcrd in ojjice cnd
PART NE R AT T RI L E GAL
"I
77
come home in time to recd c bool or plc uith m son.
I ucs clucs tcuht to be independent cnd to hcte cn identit oj
m oun cnd therejore to ite it cll up uhen I ot mcrried or hcd
c bcb just ucs neter oin to be on the ccrds - I hcd uorled too
hcrd. ut uithout the support oj m jcmil, these uould be empt
uords. In m ccse, I ucs jortuncte to mcrr c lcuer uho bein
in the scme plcce cs I ucs understood the importcnce oj m
personcl cnd projessioncl routh. It miht hcte been c dijjerent
ccse hcd I been mcrried outside the projession. M pcrents cre
clso extremel supportite.
I personcll jind it quite chcllenin to do business detelopment
cnd bclcnce uorl cnd home ct the scme
time - it is dijjicult enouh to jind time on
c dc to dc bcsis. Lectin on lon
business detelopment trips intoltes
checlin m husbcnd's schedule, m
pcrents' schedules cnd jixin doctor's
cppointmentsl Netuorlin enercll, in
c mcle centric projession, ccn be unnertin. I lnou mcn uomen
sujjer jrom the scme concerns cs I did uhen I ot stcrted - uill
people trect me cs the uould c mcle collecue or uill the thinl I
cm otersteppin certcin boundcries? In truth, I don't lnou the
cnsuer but I lite b c simple premise cnd thct is hcrd uorl ccn
neter do ou uron. M ender hcs not hcd c nectite impcct on
m ccreer.

ut oj course, it hcs not been cn ecs ride. And ce hcs not helped
either. Women understcnd the issues uomen jcce cnd do tr to
cccommodcte them, but the reclit is uhen c decl is on, lcuers,
irrespectite oj the ender, hcte to be there niht cjter niht. I
hcte hecrd so mcn intellient uomen lcuers come up to me
cnd sc - I don't ucnt to be lile ou. I don't ucnt to run to the
hospitcl in the middle oj the dc beccuse m child jell doun cnd
then come bccl to ojjice cnd sit till the middle oj the niht to send
out cn creement. I clucs tell them thct ue hcte ot to uorl
toether cs c tecm cnd help ecch other out.
Ircnll, there is no better polic thct one
ccn hcte to mcle c uorlin entironment
people-jriendl. Let's jcce it. Dur jobs cre
not ecs. We hcte cll tclled cbout pcrt time
uorlin, jlexi timins, uorl jrom home,
etceterc, etceterc. Ircnll, none oj these
uould uorl ij there ucsn't c tecm thct bccled up jor c person in
need - irrespectite oj mcn or uomcn.
I must cdd thct, c ood mentor is criticcl to the surtitcl oj cn
My gender has not had
a negative impact on
my career.
78
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79
4. ASSESSMENT OF EMPLOYERS
80
LACK OF ADEQUATE RESPONSES FROM EMPLOYERS
We approached twen law rms and twen companies in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore to participate in the study. The companies consisted of
varied sectors, like information technology, banking, infrastructure, media and entertainment, and F.M.C.G. The law rms we contacted were national
law rms and regional law rms with a large presence in the three cities. We received responses from only two law rms and one company.
In the survey forms that we sent to employers, we sought the ratio of women to men, materni and paterni policies, policy on exibili and
sabbaticals, policies adopted to retain women, arition, and the reasons for arition. Additionally, we sought policies on sexual harassment. Of the
twen law rms we approached, thirteen did not wish to participate in the study or did not respond to the email, two agreed but did not send the
data aer many reminders, and three did not have any such wrien policy.
RESPONDENTS RATI NG OF EMPLOYERS
Based on the responses from our respondents, our study generated information on the policies in most tier-one and tier-two law rms of the
country. The assessment of employers, therefore, is based entirely on the respondents opinions.
The respondents rated their respective organisations on sensitivi, exibili, childcare assistance, and diversi programmes based on a scale that
ranged from Poor to Excellent.
81
RATING OF EMPLOYERS' UNDERSTANDING OF NEEDS OF WORKING PARENTS
4. 1 I S YOUR EMPLOYER EMPATHETI C TOWARDS THE NEEDS OF WORKI NG PARENTS?
15 Joan C. Williams, Jessica Manwell, Stephanie Bornstein, Opt Out or Pushed Out? : How the Press Covers Work/Family Conict The Untold Story of why Women leave the Workforce, p.3, The Center for
WorkLife Law, Universi of California, Hastings College of the Law, 2006
More than 60% of our respondents rated the organisations they were working with as largely understanding about their needs. In contrast, 38% of
the respondents rated the response to the needs of working fathers as being average. A possible reason for this could be that work places reect the
view that women are and continue to be primarily responsible for childcare and men as sole bread-winners. The report Opt out or Pushed Out
states, [i]nexible, all-or-nothing workplaces drive women and men into neo-traditional roles. Inexible, all-or-nothing workplaces drive
women out of breadwinner roles and men out of caregiver roles. The result is many fathers working longer hours than they would like and many
mothers working fewer hours than they would like.
15

This dierence is also evident from the short duration of paterni leave oered by most employers. A woman partner of a leading law rm describes
the mind-set of most law rms as fairly traditional, when it comes to providing policies that make men an equal partner and parent.
0
10
20
30
40
50
Excellent Good Average Fair
Mothers Fathers
Poor
33%
15%
31%
27%
29%
38%
4%
8%
4%
8%
82
Do organisations allow exible work arrangements or work from
home options to their employees? If yes, does invoking these
options come at the cost of career advancements? Does the
organisation, in general, promote a work-life balance?
Approximately 42% of respondents working in law rms and 81% of
respondents working in companies mentioned that their
organisations had introduced measures to promote work-life
balance. Some of the measures listed by respondents from law rms
included the option to work from home, the exibili to come in
late, and general measures such as discouraging working late and
working on weekends, the reduction of the number of working
Saturdays, and the encouragement of oce outings, retreats, and
yearly vacations. One respondent mentioned that there are very
rare instances of associates working very late into the night, and
even if they do, they are due to genuine work pressures and not
due to the issue of face time. Appreciating the rms policy of
fewer working Saturdays, a respondent stated that this has
considerably reduced the burden, especially for working mothers
who need to balance work and family. One respondent mentioned
that she has beneted a lot because of the professional crche
facili that the oce had started.
In companies, the measures ranged from clear policies on exible
work arrangements, the work from home option, no work on
weekends, and leing employees leave work by 6:30 p.m. every day
unless urgent work comes up, to allowing exible timings if
4. 2 HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE MEASURES ADOPTED BY YOUR EMPLOYER TO PROMOTE FLEXI BI LI TY AND ENCOURAGE
WORK-LI FE BALANCE?
someone from the family is sick. One respondent also highlighted an
interesting diversi measure adopted by the company in the form of a
portal that allows people to share their experience of working with the
company including specic programmes that promote networking
between working mothers. Another respondent shared that within the
legal team, there was an understanding that you could leave work early at
least once every week.
Respondents working in statutory authorities said that measures such as
study leave for ve years and two-year childcare leave for women were
available. In international organisations, measures aimed at enabling stress
management, ensuring equal distribution of work, exible work hours, and
reduced travel had been introduced.
83
RATING OF MEASURES INTRODUCED
BY EMPLOYER TO ENCOURAGE
WORK-LIFE BALANCE
When it came to rating employers, 33% rated their employers
performance as good in instituting measures that encourage work-
life balance and a small percentage (15%) felt that their employers
performance was excellent. As is evident, the majori, that is 53%
rated their employers as average and below on this parameter.
0
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33%
37%
6%
10%
84
An important consideration in assessing employers is whether the availing of exibili results in a penal in the form of denial of
promotion, bonuses, and raises.
Overall, 48% of the respondents rated their organisations openness to oer exibili and work from home options without any penalisation as being
average or fair or poor. This indicates that while measures may have been introduced to promote work-life balance, their implementation was poor.
Organisations should realise that in the event that they are unable to provide childcare facilities in work places or in the vicini, options of work from
home and exible work hours should be considered as they will help retain good talent and aid employee growth.
RATING OF OPENNESS TOWARDS
EMPLOYEES WORKING FROM HOME
RATING OF OPENNESS TOWARDS
EMPLOYEES WORKING FLEXIBLE
HOURS
0
10
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30
40
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33%
25%
6%
17%
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31%
21%
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17%
85
RATING OF CHILDCARE ASSISTANCE
PROGRAMMES
4. 3 HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE CHI LDCARE ASSI STANCE
( I F ANY) OFFERED BY YOUR EMPLOYER?
Crche facilities, in cities like Mumbai and other big metros where
space is a huge constraint, require nancial investment that may be
dicult for smaller establishments. In situations like these, exibili
serves as a beer option. For some law rms, the number of
employees that may have children may be small in number. In
situations like these, Nirmala Menon, founder of Interweave (a rm
that consults on gender diversi), recommends sharing facilities
with other rms in the vicini. She shares that some companies
abroad have set up crches where there is a campus space which is
commonly shared by all companies. Companies can also increase
the infrastructure support around child-care by ing up with local
child care options. She also mentioned that some organisations
provide a room for child-care, not as an everyday option, but on
some days during an emergency when the maid has not shown up
or the child is not well. Others encourage men to become equal
partners by providing them exibili. The consequence of
encouraging men to become equal partners, by oering egalitarian
policies, would result in retaining good women talent. Unless
organisations adopt such retention measures they may be le
scrambling for talent where the supply of good talent is already
scarce.
0
10
20
30
40
50
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10%
15%
19%
50%
6%
We asked respondents whether their organisations oered any
childcare assistance in the form of crches or child-care search
services in the case of emergencies. Respondents have been largely
unanimous in their emphasis on the need for employers to provide a
crche. Given that the majori of the respondents children are
below the age of ve years, this is understandable. Unfortunately,
the support from employers in this regard has been unsatisfactory.
An overwhelming 84% of respondents rated their employers below
average on this parameter.
86
WOMEN LEADERSHIP PROGRAMMES
4. 4 HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE DI VERSI TY PROGRAMMES
( I F ANY) OFFERED BY YOUR EMPLOYER?
Many multi-national companies have independent departments that
encourage and ensure diversi is maintained in the talent pool of
the company or at the time of hire. We asked our respondents
whether their employer had introduced any diversi initiatives
aimed at retaining working mothers, promoting women leaders, and
mentoring employees. Approximately 31% of the respondents stated
that a mentorship programme existed in their organisations. In some
organisations however, it served more as an orientation for new
recruits.
74% of the respondents rated their organisations as average and
below with respect to women leadership programmes. The data
showed that most employers had not introduced any diversi
programmes aimed at promoting or mentoring women within the
organisation.
0
10
20
30
40
E
x
c
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l
l
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n
t
G
o
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v
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r
a
g
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F
a
i
r
P
o
o
r
50
10%
15%
13%
19%
42%
87
5. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
AND RECOMMENDATIONS
88
The data on the assessment of employers indicates to a certain extent the gaps in policies and practices with regard to working mothers. Though large
numbers of women returned to work aer childbirth, lile appears to have been done by employers to aract them or retain them. While respondents
have rated their employers high (Section 4.1) on their understanding towards the needs of working mothers, the rating on specics shows that this
has not translated into women-friendly policies.
Data from Sections 2.9 and 3.6 also highlight the gender biases that operate within the legal workspace and complicate the growth of women within
organisations and in litigation. Discriminatory practices in the form of the denial of benets and promotions and assignment of unchallenging work
exist. The dominant perception that parenting is essentially a womans responsibili is apparent in the policies of most organisations that extend short
paterni leaves to their male employees or retainers.
Several underlying assumptions need to be challenged and employers in the legal sector need to critically introspect. Women lawyers who seek
exibilities cannot be assumed to be not commied or looking for excuses to slack from work. Flexible work arrangements should be oered without
any prejudice or penal. The work culture dominant in the corporate sector and in litigation reect the traditional male breadwinner model and this
should be challenged.
We asked our respondents to share their thoughts on how workplace policies could be modied to promote beer working conditions for working
mothers. The recommendations below are primarily based on the responses received from them.
89
RECOMMENDED DURATION OF
MATERNAL LEAVE
5. 1 DURATI ON OF PATERNAL LEAVE
We asked 52 respondents in law rms, companies, N.G.O.s, statutory institutions, and others as to what, in their opinion, should be the ideal duration
of materni and paterni leave.
The majori of the respondents, that is, 29 were of the view that paid materni leave should be oered for at least six months. 9 respondents felt
that the duration should be one year. Only 6 respondents felt that the statutory minimum of twelve weeks was sucient. 24 respondents were of the
view that paterni leave should be for a period of at least one month.
RECOMMENDED DURATION OF
PATERNAL LEAVE
7% 7 days
26% 15 days
52% 1 month
11% 3 months
4% 6 months
11.52% 12 weeks
3.84% 16 weeks
56% 6 months
17% 1 year
9.61% Others
90
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding
for up to six months.
16
Thereaer, breastfeeding should be
continued with complementary foods till the child is two years of
age or more.
17
This has also been endorsed by the Indian Academy
of Paediatrics, which is the only association of paediatricians in
India.
18
In light of this, the statutory period of twelve weeks needs to
be reviewed. The Materni Benet Act, 1961 will have to be
amended in order to mandate materni leave for at least six
months. Till such time, employers themselves should extend paid
materni leave or provide exibili to working mothers so that they
can breastfeed their child for the recommended period of six
months. There is nothing preventing employers from providing
materni leave beyond twelve weeks.
The encouragement of shared parenting responsibilities will help
address to a certain extent the entrenched gender stereopes
surrounding childcare. Employers endorse this archaic division of
labour by providing for insucient paterni leaves and supporting
the belief that women are and remain primary caregivers. Priyanka
Roy, a partner with Alliance Legal, emphasised the need for
adequate paterni leave and even suggested paterni leave of
three months can be provided in addition to materni leave so that
couples can plan childcare eectively. In fact, the eects of such
measures will not be conned to any one sector, but will positively
impact all women in employment.
To summarise, our data indicates that:
- 46% of the respondents sought an extension of their materni
leave.
- 56% of the respondents were of the view that paid materni
leave should be for at least six months.
- 67% of the respondents in law rms and 43% of the
respondents in companies stated that their employers did not
provide any support to allow them to nurse during working
hours.
- 38% of the respondents across all sectors had to reduce the
number of feeds once they resumed work aer the materni
break.
- 79% of the respondents felt that the options of exible hours
and work from home would make the transition from
materni to work easy.
- 44% of the law rms represented in our study through our
respondents do not have a wrien policy on materni leave.
16 WHO, Breastfeeding, at hp://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
17 WHO, Breastfeeding, at hp://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
18 Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Gold Standard-Safe, Sound, Sustainable,
hp://www.iapindia.org/iap-resources/web-links/recommendations-a-guidelines#and
hp://grandam.websitewelcome.com/~iapdemo/iap/iaples/policy_infant_feeding_1.jpg
91
Based on the above, we recommend that:
1. All organisations should have a wrien policy on parental
leave. This will ensure clari on maers such as procedures,
duration, extension, exibili, and adoption leave, and also
insulate the organisation against claims of bias or discretion in
this regard.
2. Employers should provide for paid materni leave for six
months and paid paterni leave for one month. This should be
available to all women irrespective of the duration for which
they have worked at the organisation. The option to utilise the
parental leave at intervals should also be aorded.
3. Flexibili options such as work from home and reduced hours
should be introduced, especially if the organisation is not in a
position to provide parental leave for the above-mentioned
duration and the work prole of the individual does not
necessarily require physical presence in the oce.
4. Employers should also provide for a crche within the oce
premises or nearby which will allow mothers with young
babies to nurse them. The option of sharing crche facilities
with other oces in the vicini should also be explored.
5. 2. FACTORS THAT CAN HELP CHANGE NEGATI VE
PERCEPTI ONS TOWARDS WORKI NG MOTHERS
Colleagues of women who are on materni leave or are working
exible hours end up having to put in additional hours to deal with
the workload. This causes resentment against working mothers and
may even lead to hostilities at the work place. According to Nirmala
Menon, an eective way of addressing this is by ensuring that
deliverables are clearly outlined. Women face resentment also
during materni leave, especially in cases where there is no one
to handle their work in their absence. If there is no cover for her,
then the colleagues come to resent her for that and are less
cooperative aer she is back aer the three-month break. It is
seen as a vacation. Unless the organisation provides a cover and
emphasises that materni break is not a negative thing, but it is
seen as business as usual, things will not change.
A practical solution oered by a respondent is that organisations
should encourage joint responsibili or charge on projects instead
of making one person responsible. This will ensure that work is
taken care of and that there is no unnecessary pressure or guilt
imposed on the person who opts for a exible work arrangement.
According to one of our respondents working in a law rm, a shi in
perception can come only if employers frame a policy to support
them and not question commitment, when a woman does opt for
part-time, exi timings, working from home measures, and
educate colleagues that this is a support for a working mother and
not a perk that is oered to them.
92
FACTORS THAT CAN HELP CHANGE
NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS TOWARDS
WORKING MOTHERS
The majori of respondents, that is, 49 of them, believed that
discouraging work beyond eight hours would be a concrete measure
that could lead to a beer work-life balance for all employees.
Nirmala Menon endorses this measure. The whole culture of the
longer you work, the more commied you are needs to be rewrien.
This includes the importance aached to face-time, which needs to
change. The fact that you are in oce till 10 p.m. does not make you
an ecient or commied worker; in fact it is quite the opposite. If
you get no brownie points for siing late in oce, the practice would
automatically stop. If this measure is adopted, it will benet not only
working mothers, but all other employees as well.
Employers need to take initiatives to promote diversi and at the same
time ensure that lawyers who opt for exibili are not stigmatised or
penalised in any way. Authors of the report titled Legal Talent at the
Crossroads Why New Jersey Women Lawyers Leave their Law Firms
and why they Choose to Stay?, explain the dangers of extending
exibili options only to mothers, [f]irst, it runs the risk of being
discriminatory. Second, it feeds stigma: A exible work program
available only to mothers can reinforce maternal-wall stereopes that
mothers are less commied than other workers. Third, making children
a prerequisite for eligibili for a exible schedule overlooks the fact
that exibili can be a retention tool for all valued aorneys. Fourth, it
may be a source of resentment for lawyers who do not have
children...
19
These are valid points that must be taken into
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19 Legal Talent at the Crossroads Why New jersey Women Lawyers Leave Their Law Firms, and
why they chose to stay, April 2009, A Report of the New Jersey State Employment & Training
Commission, Council on Gender Pari in Labor and Education, Center for Women and Work,
hp://www.njsetc.net/council_gender/GPC_CWW_LAW_REPORT.pdf
93
consideration so as to ensure that initiatives aimed at women do not
have unintended consequences.
Based on the above we recommend that:
1. The option of work from home should be extended to all,
irrespective of whether they have children. Apart from
obviating hostilities towards working mothers, it will promote
work-life balance within the organisation and serve as a
valuable retention tool. It will also be an ecient response to
the stress and time loss associated with the long commute to
work in most cities.
2. Flexibilities should be extended to working fathers as well and
they should not be penalised for utilising such options.
3. As far as possible, work should be distributed well so as to
prevent the overburdening of a few individuals in the
organisation. The work of women going on materni leave
should be evenly distributed among others. When the
employee returns, the same team that has been allocated the
womans work should re-orient her about the current status of
projects. Employers can contract short-term consultants to ll
the required position until the women on materni break
resume work.
4. The management should promote eective utilisation of time
and discourage work beyond oce hours except in case of
unforeseen emergencies.
FACTORS THAT CAN MAKE TRANSITION
FROM MATERNITY TO WORK EASY
79% of the respondents felt that the option of exible hours and
exibili to work from home would make the transition easier. 62%
articulated that the absence of compulsion to travel on work would
serve as a smooth transitioning facilitator. 60% of women in both law
rms and companies felt that work re-orientation aer leave was
crucial for the transition to be smooth. 54% voted for an
5. 3. FACTORS THAT CAN MAKE THE TRANSI TI ON OF
WOMEN FROM MATERNI TY TO THE WORK FORCE EASY
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94
emergency childcare back-up centre. All women in government or
N.G.O.s or academia ranked re-orientation and exibili high on their
list.
As stated earlier, respondents found the transition dicult because of
the lack of exibilities, the refusal to allot important work to them, and
the creation of circumstances that made it dicult to continue.
Highlighting the ecacy of an option to work from home, a respondent
voiced that while the visibili quotient of women who work from
home is low, their productivi may be higher or equal to that of
those working at the oce as they take fewer coee breaks!
The data on women who found their transition easy point to:
orientation about the work, exible hours and the availabili of the
work from home option, not being compelled to travel, and being
valued for their work and childcare support.
Based on the above data, we recommend that:
1. Employers should oer exibili as that will denitely help ease
the transition to work aer a materni break. Flexibili to work
from home or exible hours could be oered for a few days of
the week to all employees and can be tailored to a certain extent
to all factor in their constraints and requirements. It does not
necessarily mean reduced hours of work - rather, it implies the
option of working from home for the same number of hours. On
the other hand, exible hours imply the option to leave early or
come in late. It depends on the requirements of the employees. It
gives the employee the leeway to not follow the mandated
timings of reporting to work or leaving work. Most employers can
adopt either of the two policies that would be suitable based on
the employees work prole. This should be adopted without
decelerating the employees career growth.
2. Employers should not compel employees to travel in situations of
emergency or in the initial period where women have returned to
work aer materni leave.
3. Re-orientation to the work or status of the projects that the
employee was handling before the materni leave should be
provided by the employer. This should also entail updating the
employee about recent developments in law.
4. Employers should consider introducing re-orientation and
orientation on the work for new comers and those returning from
a sabbatical or break as part of the yearly targets of employees.
This would act as an added incentive for all employees. A
consistent and eective mentorship programme will also aid
women in returning to work without feeling intimidated.
95
MEASURES FOR WORKING MOTHERS
AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE
5. 4 MEASURES THAT CAN BE ADOPTED BY EMPLOYERS
TO MAKE THE ENVI RONMENT CONDUCI VE FOR WORKI NG
MOTHERS AND TO PROMOTE WORK-LI FE BALANCE
We asked the respondents to share their thoughts on what changes
can be introduced to make the workplace conducive for working
mothers. In the words of a respondent who is presently on a break,
the real answer perhaps does not lie in trying to alter the way
women in particular are treated in the workplace, but in the way
we perceive value creation. She explains this by adding, if men,
women and organisations are able to recognise and reward
investment in families and homes rather than the preeminent
focus on salaries and commissions, it would encourage men - and
consequently organisations - to develop a genuine work-life
balance rather than pave the way for resentment towards female
colleagues who may be viewed as campaigning for arst amongst
equals status.
According to her, The danger of any protective legislation or
policy is that it paves the way for resentment towards
beneciaries. Respondents working in legal departments of
corporations endorsed the importance of work-life balance and
exi-options. One respondent voiced that work should be
allocated in a manner that it is achievable within the working
hours. Most expressed the need to have beer crche facilities and
satellite locations from where parents can work so as to be close to
their homes. Mentoring in the form of training programmes,
motivation programmes, and sabbaticals were some other
recommendations.
We asked respondents to choose measures they felt employers
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96
should adopt in order to make the work place more conducive for
working mothers and also to promote work-life balance.
The key recommendations emerging from the respondents
responses are as follows:
1. FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS
Work from home
While examining the data, we found that the respondents repeatedly
emphasised upon the need for exible work arrangements. This is
one of the clearest recommendations that emerged from almost all
respondents. At the same time, the concern about the adverse
eects of opting for exibilities was palpable. According to a
respondent working in a law rm, working from home should be
granted as an option to all lawyers. If despite working from home
they meet their billable hours and business development
requirements, there should be no reduction in pay or aect their
promotion.
Our study revealed that some of the respondents who opted for
exibili did encounter hostile remarks from colleagues and bosses.
Such reactions could undermine the value of diversi measures. A
respondent laid emphasis on the need for superiors or peers [to]
be educated so that they do not question commitment of working
mothers. Another respondent working in a company said that
there should be less raising of eyebrows when a women
colleague is leaving oce early. Employers should discourage
working aer hours and late nighters for everyone, as this aects
the work ow to working mothers and meetings and travel dates
should be xed aer taking into account the schedules of women
workers, according to two of the respondents.
In order that such policies are implemented in their true spirit, and
are not discerned as a favour to working mothers, it is necessary
that the management believe in and appreciate the value of such
measures. Madhurima Mukherjee, a Partner at Luthra and Luthra
Law Oces, emphasises this as she says that the active
involvement of the employer to make the workplace more female
friendly is a crucial ingredient to achieve the ne balance
between ones personal and professional space. Simple, yet
eective, policies such as exible work timings and transparent
evaluation systems would go a long way in ensuring higher
participation of women over a longer period of time so as to
obviate their current under representation in senior leadership
roles.
Employers should also organise trainings for all sta in order to
equip them with skills and sensibilities required to work with
colleagues who opt for exible work arrangements. As mentioned
earlier, working mothers should not be penalised by denying them
bonuses or promotions because they chose to work from home.
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Flexible hours and reduced hours
The option of either or both exible and reduced hours will allow
employers to take into account the dierent requirements of
individuals. For instance, women who resume work aer a
materni break should be given the option to work from home or
work part-time. Parents with older children may require exibili in
case of medical emergencies or if schools are on vacation and there
is no one to look aer the child at home.
Slow track
One respondent was of the view that employers should provide
working mothers with the option to move to a slow track this
would mean lesser work, lesser responsibilities, lesser pay, and
the option to work from home. The pros and cons of this option
should be laid out beforehand so that women can make an
informed choice. Slow track, otherwise termed the non-partner
track implies that the employee would not compete to reach the
coveted position of partnership and based on that the work of the
employee is redened to suit the employees preferences.
Madhurima Mukherjee endorsed the signicance of providing the
slow track option. She said that, this would ...give them [working
mothers] an opportuni to prioritise without having to completely
isolate themselves from work and other professional obligations.
Explaining how an alternate track worked at a magic circle law rm,
lawyer Kranti Vanga said, most international law rms, like my
previous employer that was a magic circle law rm, provided both
men and women the option of moving out of the partner-track. This
means not doing live transactional work but supporting transactional
lawyers in research work. These lawyers, called the Professional
Support Lawyers (PSLs), were involved in creating know-how,
templates and guidelines for creating commercial documents. There
were PSLs for each department or practice area as opposed to the
whole rm who know their transactions in and out and know the
practical angles of it. Research is an important area of law. Most
transactional lawyers oen nd themselves short on time to do
research. Besides, given the nature of the legal eld, laws keep
changing and it is dicult to keep pace with the laws in a global
environment. These lawyers on slow track perform a crucial
function in a law rm without the excruciating long hours and a
reasonable pay. In fact, the research minimises the liabili by
ensuring accuracy.
More recently, a lot of women who wish to move to a slow track are
being accommodated in the business and knowledge development,
public relations, or communications teams of Indian law rms. While
this is an exciting opportuni for employees who want to stay
connected to the eld, women who wish to return to commercial
practice should be provided the option of returning without being
penalised for it. With technology, it is easier to stay connected, work
from home, and aend to clients needs.
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In their report on how Washington law rms should adopt part-time
policies,
20
Joan Williams and Cynthia Thomas Calvert bust several
myths that have abounded around this issue. They explain how the
costs incurred by the rm due to arition are much higher than
those on lawyers who work balanced hours. A rms investment in a
lawyers training and grooming is substantial. When lawyers leave,
the rm will have to incur the cost of recruiting and training another
lawyer all over again. It may also cause disruption in the
relationships with clients. Therefore the belief that oering such
options is not cost-eective is awed. They also stated that the view
that some practice areas are not amenable to a balanced hours
schedule
21
and balanced hours cannot work in a high-powered
law rm
22
does not hold good, as practice has shown otherwise.
They recommend creation of exible, non-stigmatised balanced
hours programs that allow aorneys to move between balanced
hours and standard hours without any fear of repercussions.
23

Though the nature of legal practice in the U.S. is dierent from that
in India, the problems working mothers face due to inexible
workspaces are largely the same. Unfortunately, we do not have any
best practices at the workplace to fall back on. Nevertheless, we are
aware that while Indian law rms are pacing ahead, they are faced
with the pressure of delivering top-notch quali of work and
retaining their lawyers. Work done by lawyers who have opted for a
slow track can be of immense value to a rm.
Based on the above, we recommend that:
1. Senior management should drive the diversi programmes in
their oce aimed at retaining and promoting the growth of
women in the organisation. The message that must be
conveyed is that exibilities are not a dole or welfare measure.
2. Law rms should systematise alternate tracks and the option
should be made available to all retainers. Information related to
the growth trajectory, benets, and nature of work should be
provided. The policy should also provide for a switch back to
the accelerated career track.
3. Flexible work arrangements such as reduced hours, exible
hours, and work from home should be introduced. The policies
related to these measures should be in writing and should
include a clause that permits tailoring an option in consultation
with the employee.
4. Those opting for exible work arrangements should not be
penalised by denying them promotions, pay raises, or any
other benets.
5. While assigning work or creating teams, working mothers
should be consulted in order to determine their interests and
constraints. Their unavailabili should not be presumed
beforehand.
6. Employees and retainers at all levels should be trained on how
99
20 Joan Williams & Cynthia Thomas Calvert, Balanced Hours: Eective Part-time Policies for Washington Law Firms, The Project for Aorney Retention, 2nd ed, 2001, p.42 at
hp://www.pardc.org/Publications/BalancedHours2nd.pdf
21 Id, p.43.
22 Id, p.45.
23 Id, p.28.
to work with a colleague who has opted for a exible work
arrangement.
2. CHI LDCARE FACI LI TI ES
A substantial number of respondents were of the view that the
employer should make childcare facilities available. They
emphasised that such arrangements were necessary till the time
children start school. As is evident from the data on the number and
age of children of respondents, 54%, that is, 58 children were
below the age of ve years. In the absence of child-care support at
home, working mothers will have no other option but to place
children below the age of ve years in a crche.
Employers can extend this much-needed support. Even if it is not
possible to provide for a crche within the oce premises,
arrangement could be made near the work place. For instance,
some law rms may have varying number of retainers or employees
with children in each ci. They can, in situations like these, use
shared facilities, as has been suggested by Nirmala Menon.
We recommend that:
1. Large law rms take steps to establish a crche within their
premises. If there are space constraints, tie-ups with other
child-care centres close to the oce should be considered.
2. Small rms or rms having few employees with children
should consider sharing facilities with other rms in the
same vicini.
3. An emergency room should be available for child-care in all
oces.
3. SABBATI CALS
Sabbaticals are a highly desirable option as they give employees the
option to return to work and serve as an eective retention policy
without any additional costs. Most sabbaticals are given for a xed
period of time and the employee is placed back on the career
progression track upon return.
We recommend that all organisations should provide the option to
take an unconditional sabbatical to all employees. This should be
given irrespective of the reason for going on sabbatical or the sex of
the employee. On returning to work within the prescribed period,
the employee should not be penalised.
4. MENTORSHI P
Some respondents laid emphasis on the need for a robust
mentorship programme and lamented the lack of it at their current
oce. In the words of a respondent, who is a proprietor of a
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Delhi-based law rm, mentorship can help cope with work and
child-related anxieties, and also post-natal depression. A
respondent at a senior position in a reputed company felt that
mentorship could denitely take away some stress that working
women feel about not being able to devote sucient time to their
children and maintain a proper work-life balance. When you hear
from someone who has been through the same experience, it
helps cope with the situation beer. Others felt that it could help
recognise the potential of employees, help transition from materni
leave to work, and also chart their growth within the organisation
more eectively.
Mentorship programmes could provide women the much-needed
support in the workspace and also help boost morale and also
encourage women to stay in the profession.
We recommend that employers should develop mentorship
programmes for all employees, especially women. All women
should be automatically enrolled in their organisations leadership
programmes. Women transitioning from their materni leave to
work should have a special mentor assigned for a minimum of six
months. This would ensure that women have someone to reach out
to, particularly in circumstances where they feel unsure about
managing work with the additional responsibili of a child. Mentors
should be assigned the task of re-orienting the women back into
work. This should include ensuring retention of good female talent
as part of their annual targets.
FACILITIES THAT WOULD MAKE
COURTROOMS CONDUCIVE FOR WOMEN
LITIGATORS
5. 5 FACTORS THAT WOULD MAKE COURTROOMS CONDUCI VE
FOR WOMEN I N LI TI GATI ON
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Sanitised toilets for
women on each oor
Creche facilities
Room for breast feeding
Baby changing stations
Lis in courts
Ramps for easy ascent
and descent
93%
80%
76%
72%
66%
59%
101
The litigation workspace is very dierent from that of law rms and
companies. Most of our respondents were independent practitioners
and had hardly any formal support in the form of paid materni
leave. In order to understand how women lawyers could be
encouraged to join court practice, we asked our respondents to rank
measures that they feel should be introduced to make courtrooms
conducive for women in litigation.
93% of respondents strongly agreed that sanitised toilets for women
on each oor of the court premises was necessary to make courts
more accessible to women lawyers. In her autobiography, titled On
Balance, Justice Leila Seth described how a mus storeroom was
passed o as the womens washroom. More than ve decades later,
most High Courts and lower courts have abysmal working
conditions, especially with respect to sanitation, making it
impossible for women to negotiate the court halls. Womens rest
rooms in most courts not only lack in sanitation, but are too few in
number. In most cases, the womens rest rooms are located at the
end of the court corridor or in one oor but not all. Given the
increasing number of women in litigation, most rest rooms are
crowded. This includes the Bangalore Ci Civil Court womens
room, which is cramped during lunch hour with lile space for
lawyers to even negotiate their way to the lockers.
The other factor that ranked high on the priori list for most women
was a crche facili. 72% of the respondents agreed that a crche
facili within the court precincts would make the profession a lot
more conducive for women. Crche facilities in courts would also
encourage litigating men to partake in their parental responsibilities
while shuling between courtrooms. Not only would it aid in
curtailing the exodus of young women lawyers from the practice,
but it would also bring about equi in familial obligations for most
working couples.
Additional facilities such as baby changing-rooms and a room where
women could breastfeed their children, were considered important
infrastructural requirements by respondents. 93% of women
lawyers felt that judges being accommodating and sensitive to
pregnant women would make courts more conducive. 79% of
women lawyers felt that the sensitivi of their colleagues at the
time of pregnancy, which could include assisting in taking
adjournments or handling maers in courts, would also help.
As part of our study, we asked respondents what the Bar Council of
India should do to encourage more women to join litigation. Most
women felt that the Bar Council of India should ensure that courts
have a crche facili and create a forum where issues of gender
bias and discrimination, including cases of sexual harassment could
be raised and addressed. They should also encourage and nominate
women lawyers for designation to senior counsel and the higher
judiciary.
Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra and Advocate Haripriya
Padmandabhan also pointed to the delays and uncertainties related
102
to hearings that have a denite impact on working mothers.
Padmanabhan said, if there were more certain [about] which
cases are likely to be taken up on a given day and heard, it would
again not only help the women but everyone as most of the time
people wait an entire day in court for a case which never reaches.
A system should be evolved to ensure that all lawyers know at
least approximately if a case on the list is likely to be taken up and
if so, when, so that the general ineciency dogging the system
can be addressed.
Several women advocates that we spoke to credited part of their
success to supportive families and husbands who were also lawyers.
However, a reliable support system at home is a privilege that many
cannot aord. According to Senior Advocate Pinky Anand, the Bar
Council of India should extend support to young women lawyers at
the start of their careers by encouraging the empanelment of
women by organisations.
Unlike some law rms and corporations that have policies on
mentoring young associates and employees, litigation works
primarily on an individual practitioner basis with lile support from
their peers. In the practice of law there is very oen a waiting
period, as a result of which the economic background of a young
lawyer plays a huge role in the choice of career. Waiting period may
not be six months. It may be three years. Advocate Kothari
suggested, [t]here could be a mentoring group of members in the
Bar where one could have a system of referring ones cases to
other litigators for a short period during the materni break. Also
it would be good to have some formal support systems such as
asking the court registry for long adjournments in cases, which are
not urgent, on account of one's materni leave, so that women
litigators are not always dependent on judges granting
adjournments. Further, there could be more support in providing
access to child care support such as maids, nannies, drivers,
etcetera, and maybe the womens bar association could have a
directory for such services that it could pass on to all women
litigators.
The Advocates Act, 1961 mandates the Bar Council of India to
safeguard the rights, privileges, and interests of lawyers under
Section 7. The State Bar Councils are also required to safeguard the
interests of advocates on its roll and conduct seminars. We
recommend that in furtherance of their statutory mandate, the Bar
Council of India and State Bar Councils take the following measures
to support the entry and growth of women in litigation:
1. Provide crche facilities in courtrooms and make them
available to both women and men lawyers. This would
encourage men to bring their children to crches and
participate in parenting. They could be modestly-priced paid
crches.
2. Ensure that sanitation facilities within the courts are improved
and that there are rest rooms for women lawyers on every
oor.
103
104
3. Take steps to improve the infrastructure facilities in court
premises to ensure that they are disabled-friendly and
accessible.
4. Create a forum to promote interaction of women lawyers with
eminent members of the Bar.
5. Establish and publicise a commiee to receive complaints of
sexual harassment.
6. Conduct consultations at the national and state level to take in
to consideration viewpoints of women lawyers on measures
that must be taken to make to make the profession women-
friendly.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We were able to write this report primarily
owing to the trust and support of Rainmaker
Training & Recruitment Private Limited. We
would particularly like to thank - Aju John,
Bhavin Patel, and Vidya Raja for reading many
versions of the report and their editorial
suggestions. Also, Shilpi Boylla and Michelle
Mascarenhas for the design and layout of the
Report, and puing up with our constant
demands. Most of all we would like to thank
Nikhil Chandra, CEO Rainmaker, for being
patient. Okay, mostly impatient. But always
critical and questioning.
This report would not have been possible
without the responses and insights of the 81
women who completed our lengthy
questionnaires. It has also greatly gained from
the interviews with the following women
leaders of the legal profession: Anju Jain,
Geeta Luthra, Haripriya Padmanabhan, Jayna
Kothari, Kosturi Ghosh, Liz Mathew,
Madhurima Mukherjee, Pinky Anand, Pratibha
Singh, Priti Suri, and Priyanka Roy.
A special thank you to them all for talking to us
and giving us their time.
We would also like to thank Nirmala Menon
from Interweave for sharing her views on what
employers can do to promote gender diversi.
We would also like to express our heartfelt
gratitude to our friends and colleagues in the
legal sector who helped us reach out to women
lawyers who t our research criteria.
We would also like to thank Dina Wadia from
J.Sagar Associates, Kosturi Ghosh from Trilegal,
and Tony Jose from HSBC Securities and
Capital Markets (India) Private Limited for their
support.
We also appreciate the hard work put in by our
105
research assistant Aakanksha Singh, a fourth
year student at the School of Law, Christ
Universi, Bangalore and Triveni Makani, an
independent researcher.
Sonal Makhija and Swagata Raha
31 July, 2012
SONAL MAKHIJA
Sonal has an M.Sc. in Law, Anthropology, and
Socie from the London School of Economics
and Political Science. She is presently working as
a freelance legal consultant on public policy
issues in Bangalore. Her areas of concern include
women and child rights, privacy law and other
issues relating law and socie. Aer nishing
law school she worked for over two years in
J. Sagar Associates.
C O N TA C T : sonal.makhija@gmail.com
SWAGATA RAHA
Swagata graduated from the West Bengal
National Universi of Juridical Sciences and has
been working as a human rights law researcher
for over seven years. She has worked with the
South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre,
New Delhi and Lawyers Collective in Bangalore.
She also taught at the School of Law, Christ
Universi, Bangalore. She is presently working
as legal consultant and independent researcher
on human rights law and is based in New Delhi.
C O N TA C T : swagataraha@gmail.com
106
Rainmaker is a learning, content, and
technology company focused on the legal
ecosystem. It also conceptualised and manages
the All India Bar Examination, Indias rst
benchmark test for practising law. Rainmaker
manages myLaw.net, the rst web platform to
provide learning solutions and content covering
the Indian legal landscape.
Along with its aliate, Vahura, Rainmaker
provides a combination of market leading
capabilities across online learning, content,
training, test management, technology
solutions, and talent management, to assist in
the transformation of legal people everywhere.
C O N TA C T : vidya@rainmaker.co.in
107