How to overcome Pregnancy Discrimination at Workplace?
In the last post, we discussed the Life of a working woman. With thousands of ambitions, those eyes have always looked for ways to climb the corporate ladder. Though the business world showers one with ample opportunities to carve a golden avenue, they also have oodles of “grey patches” hidden quite mysteriously, one of which is Pregnancy discrimination.
Can you imagine, 42% of working women in the US have faced Gender discrimination?
While discriminations at the workplace might vary from Pay packages to Favouritism or even Ethnicity, this post is about Pregnancy Discrimination in the workplace, which a lot of women face in India and across the world.
You remember from the last post about the question I was asked during my interview? What if, the HR would have rejected me during the interview, simply with the thought that I would be on the path of family planning, being 2 years post marriage? Do companies hire pregnant ladies? Can they simply refuse to hire a Pregnant woman or a woman who could be close to family planning?
Facts about Pregnancy Discrimination at workplace :
Renee, my college mate, faced this discrimination, which prompted me to highlight this issue. In her 3rd month of pregnancy, she merrily shared the news with her boss. Leave apart spreading the joys, there was not even a congratulatory message. The discussion directly went to “How much and from when” of the Maternity leaves. Over the months, lots of responsibilities were taken off from her able shoulders. Reasons cited were, that she should focus more on her health. She never realized that these plans could jolt her career forever. During the appraisal time (in her 8th month), she was heavily overlooked. Due to the underachievement of KPI’s. Really? She lost her sanity.
Things were being pruned, her responsibility was completely transferred and her profile was washed out. By the time, her maternity break was over, her job with that organization was also over!
With the rise of awareness, most of the big corporate houses have amended their policies. But there are lots of small, medium and few big corporates, who walk around with their stereotypical thoughts around a pregnant woman and a new mum’s abilities.
Pregnancy and Maternity leaves: How to deal with it at the workplace?
These discriminations hurt a women’s earning potential and disrupts a blooming career. It can be financially draining for an independent woman. Here are a few things which pregnant women should “know” to avoid any such discrimination. Though a lot depends upon the Organizational policies, HR framework, prevalent culture and the mindset of Managers. But when you cannot change any of those, try the below-mentioned tips, which could possibly help you against Pregnancy discrimination.
1. Sound Confident:
Leave those emotions at the back of your mind and speak to your manager confidently about your work. Let the expectations be very clear that pregnancy is not going to impact your performance. Yes, there will be days, when you will feel physically weak. For such days, you need to be ready with a well-armed plan. That was what I did. Work was always done well before the deadline. If not at 12 noon, but at 12 night, but it was done with the same passion! The initial confidence level will help you in the long run.
2. Discuss the Job Responsibilities after baby birth:
Yes, that’s very important as a new mum. Plan up beforehand how things would be managed back at home, be it creche or a nanny or a family person taking care of your baby’s needs. Discuss it out with your manager openly. Ensure, that you’re always poised during these talks.
3. Report the discrimination to HR:
If your organization has a strong HR, report via email that you are being victimized. Keep a record of your complaint and the action taken against it. The pain for many organizations in India is the lack of Strong HR teams and policies.
4. Be Vigilant:
Keep your eyes and minds open, wrt any changes, as in the behavioral change from your team, your manager. In case you get even a small pinch of it, start documenting things. Conversations, change of responsibilities, reporting matrices, keep a tab of everything officially on the email.
5. Policy :
Readout company policies very clearly before joining. Discuss with HR and keep yourself abreast with options you can avail. Check out on flexi hours and work from home options.
6. Maternity Act and Indian laws:
Keep yourself aware about the Maternity Act , your eligibilities and be very clear about it. Remember, firing an employee on behalf of Pregnancy is Illegal in India. Forcing an employee to take time off due to Pregnancy is also against the rule. Either you’ll be forced to quit [amicably] or you’ll be trapped in the net of “Poor Performance”, just like what happened in the case of Renee.
Snub that soft, sweet image of yours. I worked as a lioness, was headstrong and delivered what I committed. My aggression and confidence [backed by strategy] to achieve the goal during pregnancy and after baby birth, never trapped me in any discrimination. Yes, you need a supporting team and manager. But remember you’ll earn that support only if you show that zeal to achieve “at any cost”.
Let me end up saying that I was promoted within 4 months of birthing my baby!
This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z challenge.
Keep sharing your stories in the comment section,