Are Indian Workplaces Receptive To New Mothers?
Very often, when answering a question on motherhood, I am tempted to draw from my own experiences. Those who know me know that I am self-employed and work on my own time. The clients I do meet regularly have often entertained not just me, but even the kid on eventful days. Irrespective of whether they were thrilled about the prospect or not, they welcomed us with open arms is fact.
However, how do full-time working parents feel about this? Even more importantly, how welcome do new mothers feel at their own workplaces, especially after a break? Maternity leave has thankfully gotten longer here, but is a prolonged sabbatical away from the workplace a sure bullet in the head for that work promotion?
New mums aren’t very welcome as yet at work, although things are slowly changing!
There are always two sides to a coin. On the one hand, we have reason to believe, and proof, that multinational firms are doing everything in their power to bring Indian women back into the workforce. Taking an assortment of family members- especially mothers-in-law and kids, to work is one way of sensitizing both parties to the concerns of the other. Paid maternity leave is a blessing for those women who cannot or do not want to ask their partner for financial support.
However, at least until a year ago, BBC reported that women who revealed their pregnancy and motherhood often found themselves passed up for promotions and even dumped from their jobs. While companies need to change their policies majorly, there’s no denying the collective guilt a society heaps on a mother.
Remember, that working doesn’t begin at 9 and end at 5. From the time mothers begin their day and begin catering to their family’s needs, they are reminded in very subtle ways that they are extremely selfish to think of their own needs too. With such pressure constantly on her mind, a mother then works for several hours each day.
There’s another quirk in the Indian cultural fabric that gives employers the right to take their own call with women employees. Situations like these are considered subjective, since no clear methodology or rules and regulations exist. Every company is entitled to an opinion. These often add to the feeling of helplessness and failure that young mothers already feel.
To summarize, there isn’t one true answer to the question. There are several experiences of new mothers feeling unwelcome at their workplaces, and there are also examples of situations where they got the flexibility they need. If you’re at a workplace that respects you, they will respect your life and choices. If they don’t, it is time to move on and find one that does.