Despite decades of progress in regards to women’s rights, female employees regularly experience various forms of both intentional and unintentional pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace. One reason why this trend is so disturbing is that it serves absolutely no one’s best interests. Companies and their managers may believe that this form of discrimination serves a larger financial bottom-line. But the truth is that adequate maternity leave and a discrimination-free workplace benefits both female employees and businesses alike.
Some women hesitate to inform their employers about their pregnancies out of fear that they will be harassed or discriminated against. When employers provide a supportive environment, they not only respect the boundaries of pregnancy-related employment law, they inspire female workers to inform the company of their pregnancies earlier on. This allows their teams to have adequate time to prepare for their time off.
When a female employee leaves on maternity leave, her job is protected by law. As a result, is rarely makes sense for managers to go through the process of hiring and training another individual to fill her spot for only a few short months. In order to cope with her absence, fellow co-workers are often inspired to find creative solutions to deal with her temporary absence. They may also be inspired to stretch their own limits and work more cohesively as a team in order to get the job done in new ways. By the time the female co-worker returns, her team is stronger, wiser and more innovative.
On its face, maternity leave may seem like a negative situation for companies. But when managers provide a supportive environment for pregnant women, the company and morale among its employees may be significantly impacted. And when employees feel supported, they are almost always inspired to do better work and contribute to achieving the company’s bottom-line. In the end, a work environment free from pregnancy discrimination is a win-win for everyone involved.
Source: USA Today, “On the Job: Maternity leave can be good for mom, firm,” Anita Bruzzese, Oct. 13, 2013