Maternal Bias-Why Companies Need Training
Shifting gears here just a little bit! We want to shed some light on maternal bias. We all have stories and moments where we've experienced this and sometimes we honestly may not have noticed because we tend to accept things as normality. Well let's create a new normal. Let's change the conversation.
In an ideal corporate world, the average working mother would have her baby, take her 6 weeks leave to "heal" and "bond" with her child and return back to work with the same gusto and drive she once had. The sleepless nights wouldn't diminish her abilities, the 15 minute breaks to pump during the day wouldn't put a dent in her productivity, and a live in nanny would exist in every home. Why? Because business as usual. The show must go on. The woman's life shifts in a drastic way, yet the company keeps on running like a well oiled machine, having only bat an eye. A company takes quite a few hits, while a woman is on maternity leave or returning from her leave or even with seasoned working mother employees that are well into their working mother years have an effect. This is a concept we want to dig into in the weeks to come. Generally, the company productivity and ultimately money, when a woman goes on maternity leave, not to mention the coverage needed to maintain a healthy business. All very relevant concerns, but the mother is welcomed back assuming the show just goes on.
The woman returning from leave or even a woman with children in general absolutely have the same capacity to perform and even out perform some of her other colleagues however, managing a woman with children and in child bearing years takes a different finesse. Over the last few weeks, we have surveyed working mothers to dissect the issues coming up in the workplace that make them feel nearly discriminated against. On one of our most recent posts on social media was quote from a mom who follows us and she said,
"Real flexibility, with no negative backlash or preconceived notions is what we really need."
We have federal laws in place to ensure we are protected on a legal level, however many managers are not attuned on managing women with children as it comes with a level of Do we really have the support we need? Are we truly supported? Do colleagues assume we are less committed? Sure it's on paper, on the employee handbook, but are we facing a prejudice in the workplace?
As much as we are an equal rights society with concepts surrounding "we all can do it all", this is simply not the case, at least not without understanding. We need better support to support our families. The negative backlash noted above is a reality. Working mothers are feeling isolated, insecure, and afraid to ask for leniency to accommodate a child's schedule at school, daycare, or childcare arrangements. We fear the way that it makes us look-irresponsible, not dependable, ill-prepared when in reality, this is normalcy in a working mothers life.
Helping managers understand the needs of working mothers and removing the stigma that we are less competent. We are competing against individuals with different home lives, many men that have stay home wives, women without children, and people are seen as more likely to succeed by giving "their all" to their work. There is an underlying assumption that our career becomes a hobby and we are in it for the income or until something less demanding comes along. Training leaders and managers, and providing resources to employers will help them better understand the demands a working mother faces and implications health and mental health wise that we can be affected by. While we don't go shouting on the roof tops that we need help, most times, we do need help. It costs less money to retain an employee than to lose one to a company that is offering a less bias environment.
Giana, Founder WMC