Article: Mother's Day 2024: How companies are stepping up for working moms

Strategic HR

Mother's Day 2024: How companies are stepping up for working moms

A look at how companies are supporting working mothers, and the challenges that remain.
Mother's Day 2024: How companies are stepping up for working moms

For countless working mothers across India, the twin callings of career and family can manifest as an endless juggling act fraught with immense challenges. The conventional workplace paradigms have long been out of step with their unique situations - the grueling hours, lack of flexibility, and pervasive societal stigmas surrounding matters like menstruation, menopause, fertility issues, and mental health.

As a new chapter unfolds with employees transitioning back to office environments, workplaces are waking up to the harsh realities faced by this vital workforce segment. As per Deloitte's latest Women@Work report, post the return-to-office mandate, a staggering 40% of women professionals sought reduced working hours while another 30% even mulled relocation. This seismic disruption not only rattled their work-life equilibrium but also raised red flags over potential productivity losses.

On-site support and flexibility

Leading organisations have kick-started this transformation. At Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India (MBRDI), the focus is on establishing essential amenities and infrastructure. "We provide on-site childcare facilities and financial assistance to new mothers," explains Mahesh Medhekar, VP - Human Relations at MBRDI. "Initiatives like our 'cool cabs' programme for expectant mothers acknowledge the practical hurdles they encounter and ease the burden."

However, the real game changer has been the rising adoption of flexible work policies. From remote work options and hybrid models to accommodating reduced hours or tailored schedules, this paradigm shift allows working mothers to effectively balance competing responsibilities. "Flexible work arrangements enable women employees to juggle their professional and personal duties seamlessly," affirms Deepti Varma, VP at Amazon.

Holistic maternity support ecosystems

Pioneering organisations are going the extra mile by instituting holistic maternity support programs. E-commerce behemoth Flipkart's 'Mom-On-Board' initiative  provides tailored career growth pathways within an all-encompassing support ecosystem for new and expectant mothers. "Our approach continually evolves to align with the dynamic needs of our workforce," a Flipkart spokesperson stated. Exclusive amenities like nursing rooms, dedicated parking spaces, and childcare benefits further supplement this effort.

At insurance major IndiaFirst Life, a hybrid work model where employees can work from home up to 2 days a week empowers working mothers. "This approach helps young mothers strike a healthy work-life balance," notes Sunder Natarajan, the company's CHRO. RR Donnelley has instituted unique platforms like 'Women's Own Network'. "It is a peer mentoring group where working mothers share learnings and gain insights into navigating unique challenges," says Meena Sinha, Vice President & Head - Human Resources And Communications at RR Donnelley, APAC. 

At Yes Bank, women employees with children up to 3 years of age are eligible to claim reimbursement for caregiver services for up to INR 10,000/- a month. "This support allows them to focus on their careers without compromising childcare duties," says Archana Shiroor, CHRO, YES BANK.

Refining policies through open dialogue

Organisations seeking feedback and input from working mothers to continuously refine maternity support policies. From speed mentoring sessions with senior leaders to dedicated employee resource groups like Amazon's 'Momazonian' and 'Maternity Buddy' programs, the emphasis is on fostering open dialogue.  

"These avenues provide invaluable access to career guidance while advocating for inclusive policies supportive of mothers' needs," affirms Deepti Varma. At Flipkart, a spokesperson highlighted their philosophy of prioritising this constructive feedback to "ensure our efforts effectively meet working mothers' dynamic requirements."

The road ahead

While instituting robust support mechanisms geared towards empowering working mothers holistically is crucial, ensuring participation and regular impact analysis are crucial to make sure initiatives yield results. Ultimately, true progress means challenging outdated workplace norms and recognising that solutions must be as diverse as the women they seek to empower. Supporting working mothers is not just a feel-good gesture; it's an economic and societal imperative which warrants government to play its part to address societal inequalities and create policies that bolster working mothers. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, Employee Relations, Diversity, #HRCommunity, #SheMatters

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