Article: Hiring pregnant women at work

Diversity

Hiring pregnant women at work

Any kind of work environment brings challenges galore and employing a pregnant woman is not an exception. But how does one overcome this?
Hiring pregnant women at work

Mira was in two minds ever since she received the news of her pregnancy. While she is personally in happy space, she was unsure about her new job application and the possible interview she had with an organization. Mira was approached to lead a team and post her initial assessment, she was finalized as one of the contenders for the Team-Lead. All that was left to overcome was the final HR interview. And she got her pregnancy news right in the middle of this. 

Should Mira tell her recruiter about it? Or should she just take the job and let them know when the time comes. 

As per the Law of the land, no person shall be discriminated on the basis of their race, sex, religion among others when it comes to job applications. But do organizations view differently?

Vlasta Dusil, Head of Human Resources at SAP India tells us that in their India office, women employees make up to 34% of our population. In order to consistently stay ahead of competition and fulfil customer’s demands, SAP India have realized the importance of tapping into the resources of a diverse workforce. “Women employees, pregnant or otherwise, bring with them a unique perspective into market insights which in turn helps our business engage with a diverse customer base. As an organization our aim is to hire the right people for the job. Merit, talent and experience are the three main factors we focus on while recruiting candidates. Irrespective of their background and life events we believe in providing equal opportunity to all,” she said.

Sidhartha Shishoo - VP - HR, Genpact Analytics & Research also echoes the same view like Vlasta. He pointed out that pregnancy is not an ailment; it’s an accomplishment and it should be celebrated as a life-altering phase that women go through. At Genpact, all hiring decisions are governed by the skill matrix of people, thereby eliminating any bias that might hinder the growth of an employee.

Zeta also believes that level of skills, experience and attitude matter when it comes to job delivery. “We will not turn down a candidate just because she is pregnant. What matters is the level of skills, experience and attitude the candidate comes with,” said Margaret D’Souza, Head-HR, Zeta.  

However, some practical challenges do pose some issues when it comes to hiring pregnant women – maternity leave which is 6 months, logistics – and most of all, the mindset of people and pregnant women themselves. Recruiters do not get many women who seek out for change of jobs when they are pregnant. A source who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “We had a very accomplished woman as an applicant for a senior position. But she told us upfront about her pregnancy, and although she was refused on the ground of inadequate skills, it’s not surprising why she was denied the job.” Also, for some organizations an employee can take maternity leave only when she has completed 80 days in the organization. 

However, there are examples where organizations have actually hired pregnant women when the manager felt the skill which the employee will bring is far exceeding the number of days she will be on leave. When contacted Flipkart spokesperson also corroborated that “We do not have any specific policy on hiring pregnant women. We do not differentiate our hiring policy basis any demography segmentation. We follow a principal of equal employment opportunity.”

Any kind of work environment brings challenges galore – and employing a pregnant woman is not an exception. But how does one overcome this? Corporate culture plays a big role in helping build a gender diverse workforce. An open and supportive work environment helps engage employees and unleash their potential. Organization policies build and promote a work culture that enables heterogeneous workforces. Unconscious bias is another challenge that organizations face. “As human beings we all have our own biases that have been shaped through our culture, education and experiences. Preconceived notions and stereotypes usually show up during the recruitment process. Raising awareness will help organizations stem these biases.  At SAP, we address the concerns resulting from unconscious bias by consistently auditing our internal processes,” said Vlasta. 

Sidhartha shares that Genpact has transformed these challenges into opportunities by coming up with some innovative and best-in-class programs like Returning Moms. “We appreciate the multiple responsibilities of a woman both at home and at work and with our array of benefits like flexi-work arrangements, daycare, stork parking and reserved seating for pregnant women in company vehicles. Returning Moms make every effort to offer women returning form maternity leave the shift timing of their choice, in a location as near to their homes as possible, besides offering them other flexi-options as well. And for employers, here’s a pool of committed talent that’s willing to put in their best,” he added. 

Although the industry is all gung-ho about being unbiased about hiring pregnant women, however, there are a couple of factors that need to be considered while hiring a pregnant woman. Margaret reminds us to take note on the “Immediate need of the role, travel involved, whether it is a new role being carved out or replacing an existing employee which will involve some amount of handover and whether the job can be temporarily assigned when she goes on maternity leave.” 

Have you faced a similar situation? Do share your thoughts and inputs with us in the comments section below!

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Topics: Diversity, Recruitment

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