Working mothers face impossible standards. They are expected to work like they have no children and raise children like they have no jobs. However,if businesses offered more support – women wouldn’t face the untenable choice between being a mother or a professional.
Businesses have improved on flexibility policies in general, but often forget to tailor them to each individual. This fact is why some organisations struggle to attract, and then retain, the very talent they acknowledge is so critical to their business success– such as working mothers.
Truth be told, young women today face a much brighter future than what women 100, 50, or even 20 years ago faced. Throughout most of the world women can go to university, they can vote, they hold jobs and choose their own path. However, if a woman wants to become a mother, some of those freedoms begins to fade and the pressures mount. In fact, 74% of mothers said society doesn’t do a good job of understanding and supporting them, per the 2018 State of Motherhood Survey.
Mothers often feel an expectation to return to work and act as though nothing happened, just so they can prove they are still capable of being excellent professionals – and even then, they are still faced with discrimination. Mothers are meant to return to their physical state as soon as they give birth, come back from maternity leave and power through work,although most of the time they’re running on very little sleep. Women returning to employment also find their workplaces to be much less hospitable – with one report from Great Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission finding 11%are forced out of their jobs by outright dismissal or such poor treatment, they felt they had no choice.
Furthermore, there are times when motherhood and careers feel so incompatible, the only practical option for some women is to choose between their family plans or having a career.
My professional career came to a halt when I was stripped of my title as Miss Ukraine 2018 for being a mother. An organisation who has built a reputation for celebrating women all over the world, took away something I fought so hard for simply because I had a child.
Therefore, I’m urging businesses to listen and adapt. Listen to the mothers in your workplace, offer them the flexibility and the support they need. Let their come-back be welcoming, make use of ‘keep in touch days’and give them time for childcare. Be mindful that rules which were made 10 or 20 years ago, may no longer be relevant. Businesses should be coming together to develop and improve rules that will adapt to our changing society in order to accommodate all.
I’m urging policy-makers, politicians and executives to change this issue. Being a mother does not mean you cannot be a professional,you shouldn’t have to choose between the two. Creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace will enable businesses to create a bigger pool of potential workers in some 20 years from now.