It is amazing to know that people are enjoying my posts. This post is in continuance to my last post – Why women don’t get to the top? To be honest, this topic is suggested by two of my dear friends who strongly feels that something should change in the professional world that benefits working mothers. They are the victims of crazy work hours at office and penalized for being pregnant.
“Work-Life Balance” is not THE thing for women only but it is also important for men. Though there are talks in companies to promote Work life balance, there is hardly anything done at the ground level. Policies are there but there is no implementation. The reason why I feel, these policies fail is because of the appraisal system that is currently being practiced. Let’s be honest, all of us work to move ahead in our career. Whether it’s money or position, all of us wants to see ourselves in significant positions at some point in time. That leads to impressing bosses by giving 150%, working after office hours, being available 24-7, compromising on family life and spending weekends in office etc. In few cultures, people sit in office late hours just to show their dedication to the boss. In such competitive environment, where do you see a working mother? She would want to maximize her time in office, to get the work done and get out on time so that she can spend time with her young babies.
Such efficient women would be considered as “Not so focused” or “Distracted”, “not giving 100%” etc. Even though work may be finished on time, but what about boss’s “perception” of her leaving early. You may be hired to do a certain task but you are expected to take on another person’s job in order to show you want to progress in your career and you have full attention on work. Why the appraisal system in companies are designed such that a lot depends on how bosses feel about the subordinate rather than judge them based on work? Someone somewhere has to come up with a brilliant idea to showcase people that the woman has been working well, quality of work is better and therefore, she qualifies for next level. Some companies are doing a great work -but the majority of them fall back on managers.
The worse is that when a women get pregnant or break the news of pregnancy in office, the entire world changes. The attitude of bosses or co-workers (especially men) changes. The ones who hated you all this while will take every opportunity to show you down. And the fact that you will be away on paid maternity leave upsets bosses. I still remember clearly – My first pregnancy when I told the news to my boss, I could see the unhappiness on his face. Since my company had strict policies on protecting the working mothers, he had no choice to make things smooth for me. But of course, there was no promotion for next two years. And for my second pregnancy, when I told the news, it was bonus time. And to my shock, my name was stricken off from bonus list. I still remember the ill feeling because the bonus is based on last year’s performance when I was NOT pregnant and I had worked my arse off. And I know few people who lost their jobs after they broke pregnancy news. These horrifying stories deter women from becoming pregnant. Because they clearly know that they will have to compromise on professional life just to have a personal one. Many of my colleagues have progressed while I was producing babies. Being career women it irks but I would want to forget because I have two lovely princesses for which I will trade the world.
So, in this scenario how can working hours of a man and women are same? The way our society is designed, in all communities, men generally don’t take the household responsibility. They may be willing to help but not accountable for that. In such scenario, women have to come forward to manage everything. The greatest strength women have is MULTI-TASKING. They can manage home and work with equal efficiency and within 24 hours. Men also realise this when they are at home, but when they are managers at work, their expectations are entirely different.
So when it comes to the debate on “gender equality” at the workplace, I find it a gag. Men and women can’t be equal and they cannot be treated equally. At least till the time when people’s mindset has changed and men shoulder equal responsibility at home. At this point in time, if we really want our women employees to succeed then they should be given more support – in terms of work responsibilities, work-life balance, medical leaves, childcare leaves, flexible hours, support for children etc.
We have only 24 hours in a day and in this age, work is NOT equally divided between a man and a woman. Man will spend 14 hours at work, come home, eat and sleep. Whereas Woman will come home, have to take download of what happened at home all day, get a routine for kids for next morning, make sure everything is in order for next day, spend time with the kids, household chores and ensuring that the house is in order even if she is not at home.
So, yes as a woman we need more support at work than men. So chuck the gender equality discussions and support more. And why so much for a woman employees? Every company will have that answer.
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