There’s a war going in the United States against mothers and children. This remark may pop a few eyes but let’s be honest, the model for the workplace in this country is based on the needs of men, not women who, according to writer Rebecca Traister, represent 47% the workforce. (“Labor Pains,” by Rebecca Traister, The New Republic, Feb. 2015 pg. 14.) Especially absent is a concern for working women who are pregnant.
True, President Obama signed an executive order that gives 6 weeks of paid family leave to federal workers, a small nod in the right direction. And true, Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple provide 12 weeks of paid leave, plus baby bonuses, child care, and subsidized fertility treatments in their employment packages. (Ibid pg. 17.) But the majority of working women reap none of these benefits. In fact, If someone were to create an employment system that worked against women of childbearing age, our current one would be difficult to beat.
I’m not talking about the lost wages and reductions in retirement benefits that also occur with unpaid pregnancy leave, or Congress’ refusal to pass bills that would level the economic playing field for females. (Click). These are large insults, of course. But, I’m talking about the inhospitable world of work which Traister, as a working mother faced. Where, she asks, was there a private place for her to vomit in the first trimester. Why did no one suggest shorter meetings as her baby grew in the womb and all Traister could think about was her need to pee? (Ibid, pg. 15.) If these complaints sound funny, they aren’t. Not to the person who needs either.
A woman’s body changes during pregnancy and the workplace needs to be accommodating. Peggy Young, a UPS worker agued this point before the Supreme Court and they agreed. (Click)
Pregnancy isn’t a disability. It is a natural process which humans depend upon for the survival of our species. With a little flexibility, companies can honor nature’s intent and the woman who carry it out. Frankly, too, it’s good business. Hey UPS, what would happen to your profits if 47% of your workforce went home tomorrow and stayed there for 9 months?
Corporate America, start showing a little empathy for your female workers and forget the platitudes about God, Apple Pie and Motherhood… Why does apple pie come before motherhood, anyway? Jeez!