Mothers who work in the corporate world push their boundaries and break stereotypes every day through sheer hard work and perseverance. The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. They benefit the company, but is the company doing enough to help them?
43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving or deferring careers for an extended period of time. According to the World Bank Data, 2019, women just made up 23% of India’s labour force in 2019, compared with a global average of 48%. Many women in India are compelled to drop out of the corporate workforce to raise children, among other reasons. In the absence of an ecosystem that supports women who desire to restart their careers, they are faced with rejection from recruiters who look down on their gap years.
Women’s labour-force issues are difficult to address because of the mindset deeply ingrained in our society. COVID-19’s massive job disruption has crippled the economy and pushed millions of women and families to financial ruin.
Understanding the changing dynamics in a post-pandemic world is crucial to framing policies to support women’s roles as financial providers and a parent. Here are five ways managers and employees can encourage motherhood in the workplace:
1. Let mothers breastfeed or pump in a private and comfortable setting
Breastfeeding for the first six months to a year has several health benefits for the mother and the child. However, the pressure to perform in the workspace often dissuades mothers from continuing to pump when they return to work. Companies that foster a supportive culture for continued breastfeeding benefit both new mothers and the company. In addition to this, companies can support their employees by providing pregnancy and new parent infrastructure like a chair with a footrest. These small investments go a long way towards aiding your mothering staff returning to work.
2. Provide on-site childcare services
Childcare is a significant issue for working mothers. It can be challenging to find affordable, high-quality child care that meets their needs. Employers can assist working mothers by providing on-site childcare, offering flexible work schedules, and work from home. The Maternity Benefit Act requires establishments with 50 or more employees to provide crèche services. As a result, a company should assist their employees in creating such spaces.
3. Enable flexible work hours or telecommuting options
Companies are creating flexible work environments that let working mothers bring their children to work, allowing them to balance work and family responsibilities smoothly. Make sure to negotiate a convenient work schedule for working mothers which does not add to their workload. When an organisation provides solutions to their employees' work-life balance challenges, such as parenting, employee loyalty increases, and they feel valued as an individual.
4. Grant paid parental leaves
Some states, cities, and companies have implemented paid parental leave policies, providing financial security while ensuring parents have sufficient time to bond with their newborns. Mothers are expected to return to work shortly after physical recovery from childbirth, even after waking up multiple times to tend to their child in the middle of the night. This exhaustion complicates rejoining for mothers. As a result, every organisation should provide adequate paid parental leaves enabling their employees to strike a correct balance.
5. Create a welcoming and inclusive culture
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, highlighting the successes of women who have made a career despite pregnancy and emphasising their contributions to the industry are valuable ways to encourage inclusivity.
Furthermore, companies and organisations can develop programs and initiatives that support and encourage women to pursue their careers.