It’s not easy being a working mom. A working mother has to be always a supermom because they cannot stop being a mother, even when they are at work. For working mothers, psychologists have highlighted at various occasions that their struggle is equally challenging, as they are in constant juggle to maintain work life balance. Working mothers do compromise on the quantity time given to children and often feel guilty about it. You would often find working mothers who end up asking questions like, will my child stay bonded with me even though I am not available all the time? Or, can my physical absence during the day be the reason of higher episodes of misbehavior in my child?
Obviously, there can be no ranking ever for the amount of hard work that goes in behind every success, there can be no ranking for the sacrifices these women must make at their homes, at family front while making a mark at their work places.
However, increasing women participation in the workforce, especially in the organised sector, has led to greater awareness about women-centric issues and policies to make the workplace a more conducive place for women. And the good news is that there are few exemplary employers, which are offering a broad array of support—from flexible work and mentoring to affordable childcare and paid leave—to create a culture that allows all mom employees to flourish at home and at work. These are the companies which are going extra mile in bringing a cultural shift by understanding the need of the working mothers and their families. The study further reveals that 86% of companies have introduced paternity policies at workplace as an aid for Young working mothers. An average of seven days paid paternity leave is the most sought after policy of the year 2016 states BCWI Study 2016. With 30% of companies introducing strong formalized returnship programs, second career programs stand out to be the most effective initiatives for helping young mothers in rejoining the workforce. 52% of companies allow for an average of 6.3 months of phase-back (in addition to paid maternity leave) for young mothers rejoining after their maternity breaks.
Let’s see how the top 7 companies in the list of AVTAR Group are tailoring their culture to support working-mom employees and helping in breaking maternity blues.
This professional services company, where women comprise 40% of all hires worldwide knows how to send, “we care” message to their female employees. A new program allows mothers and other primary caregivers to forgo work travel for a year after the birth or adoption of a child. Women can take 16 fully paid weeks of maternity leave and choose to work locally for a full year afterward. If they need help, they can access up to 120 hours of subsidized backup-care services annually; flexible work arrangements are also encouraged. Apart from this, it annually operates a global leadership program for executive women and even offers a series of courses that show female high performers how to shape their careers, maximize performance, and network or negotiate effectively with others.
As females pursue their career goals in this mommy-proofed workplace, they can telecommute, ramp up or reduce their workloads, take paid sabbaticals and even go on five-year breaks, all the while maintaining connections to office mentors and freelance work. Parental leave policies grant at least 8 fully paid weeks off to primary caregivers and 3 fully paid weeks off to mothers after the birth or adoption of a child. The company boasts flexible work options, a women’s network and development programs to support and empower women at Deloitte. The Deloitte Parents Network draws members into conversations about child-rearing, marriage, special needs and more. Childcare reimbursements help employees save money.
Ernst & Young
If you’re surrounded by talented people, it makes sense to seek their advice on work life matters, which is what the female employees of this professional services firm often do. Meeting at the discussion forums, book clubs, lectures, dinners and outings hosted by the firm’s professional women’s networks, they share their goals, hopes and challenges, forging key relationships. If they have a question about how to achieve balance, they can turn to the firm’s affinity groups for working moms, parents and those raising kids with special needs. And if their teens are going through rocky times, they can ask its employee assistance program to arrange counselling or join a dedicated online support group. New moms get six to 14 weeks of paid time off, and alternative work schedules that employ the use of modern technology like video-conferencing is highly encouraged. Ernst and Young goes so far as to tell employees to set dedicated blocks of time when they shouldn’t be contacted about work and to let their teams know.
In addition to discounts on child care and 14-weeks of fully paid maternity leaves, IBM also offers working moms lactation rooms, college coaching and test prep services. Great ideas don’t always show up on a conventional 9-to-5 schedule, which is why this technology company is such a huge proponent of schedule and career flexibility. This tech company also has something called a Super Women Group with over 20,000 members that fosters relationships between female employees who get together over networking meals, virtual chats, mentoring sessions and a variety of other activities as part of life-coaching services to working mothers.
Aside from the usual maternity policy mandates that are enforced by the government, ICICI’s iWork@home, is a first-of-its-kind program in the banking sector, as it allows women employees to work from home for a year. This unique program replicates the work environment at home by providing employees access to their work applications. Another novel policy is, for women managers who travel on business, the provision of covering the travel and stay of young children and their caregivers as well. Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank says, iWork@home will go a long way to provide them with an adequate support system, which will enable them to pursue their careers successfully while attending to the needs of their families.
The most recent in the news is MiLady, an app launched by Mindtree for their women employees going on a maternity leave. The app helps in giving advice on motherhood related topics, track baby’s progress and plan for their transition to work. This will help mothers to stay engaged with the company and return to their jobs thus reducing the gaps in the talent pipeline. The app offers a wide range of benefits, organizational news and updates and articles on women’s health. With many e-learning and e-courses this app helps the mothers to switch smoothly from the leave period to returning to work. The app aims to make the transition much easier, both for those going on leave as well as those returning to work.
Morgan Stanley supports employees who are new mothers or adoptive parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 100% of salary for 18 weeks) and also offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence. Listening to leaders inspires employees at this financial services firm. It is a leading advocate for family-friendly workplaces and is strongly committed to supporting working parents through a variety of programs, including global employee networking groups such as the Family Network and the Women’s Business Alliance. Additionally, the Firm’s Return to Work program, now in its fourth year, offers skilled professional women who have left the workforce a path to career re-entry through a 12-week internship.
A flexible and innovative workplace that appreciates the needs of women employees, especially working mothers would go a long way in creating a nurturing ecosystem to harness this immense potential. These companies are angling to attract and retain a new generation of female employees that, research shows, are taking on more child-care responsibilities at home and making work-family balance a bigger priority. Becoming a mother is a huge life change and it can be disruptive to your work. If these policies can keep someone happy, they will be more likely to stay and be more productive.