Flexible Policies: Too Much For A Working Woman To Ask?
When you think of a working woman, you might picture a lady walking gracefully through all challenges of life - personal and professional. But, has it occurred to you that life as a working woman is not exactly a cakewalk, and is in fact riddled with challenges?
For the sake of their loved ones and personal aspirations, women have to go the extra mile to succeed in a patriarchal society. And to make matters worse, women who decide to venture into the world of work face restrictions from their employers when they’re going through something as normal as a pregnancy.
“Only women suffer when there’s an employment problem,” says Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO of the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy.
Women Who Are Already Calling It Quits
A woman’s attempt at seeking flexibility at work to manage both work and home is met with backlash often appearing as unnecessary pay cuts, reduced chances of promotion, overtime demands, and unfair treatment by supervisors. Based on Deloitte’s Global report, Women @ Work: A Global Outlook, which surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries, they found that nearly 80% of women feel that their workload has increased by leaps and bounds post the pandemic. Of which, 23% are already considering leaving the workforce this year or have already called it quits.
A Career Break That Proved Transformational For The Company
Greg Gillman, CRO at MuteSix, shared a LinkedIn story of a female employee they hired, who opted for maternity leave after three months of joining the company. Four years later, the same woman helped the company form a whole new department. Not just that, the quality of her work and leadership only continued to level up, helping their partners with both Fortune 500 and fast-growing brands. The CRO left a heartfelt message at the end saying, “We need to work on creating an environment where women don’t feel like they should hide their pregnancy from employers.”
Women Want Flexible Working Culture Without The Penalties, Please!
The pandemic has significantly dropped the optimism levels of women for their career aspects to up to 51%. Strongly hinting toward the need for a flexible working culture that will help companies retain their top female talent, 33% of women believe that ability to work flexibly is a necessity that will increase their likelihood of staying in their current job, and 43% said it will help improve their work-life balance (Deloitte Global report).
Interviews That Women Didn’t See Coming
ScoopWhoop very recently interviewed a few Indian women, who revealed the challenges they face as professional working women in India. One of the interviewees was quite open about being rejected after an interview with a startup valued at $1bn, once the interviewer came to know about her pregnancy. Another woman talked about the disgraceful questions she was asked in an interview about her childbearing plans and a few irrelevant personal ones about her marital status.
This forces us to reconsider our assumptions about the ‘improved lives’ of working women. Because the reality is clearly unfortunate as ever. Have we not progressed at all?
Takeaways That Employers Can’t Ignore
Results Over Method
The first step is to ensure that an employee’s performance is measured based on results, and not by how many hours they work or where they work. This will help companies see the benefits of flexible work culture, and how it can accomplish the goals of both parties - the employee and the employer. Such companies will be rewarded with higher employee retention and lowered attrition.
Life Over Work
Just the expectation of checking work emails after work hours can lead to chronic stress. With necessary structures in place and workshops for employees to protect their mental well-being, companies can truly provide an empowering work environment where life is prioritized over work.
Basic Company Offerings
Candidates’ expectations for parental leave have grown rapidly in recent years. There now appears to be an increasing pressure on private companies to improve their basic leave offerings, for employees to relish the joyous moments of their life, apart from work.
As the competition for the best talent intensifies, companies need to dig deep and contemplate whether they’re really a company where women employees in particular want to stay at.