My Employees Resent Maternity Leave. How Can I Create A More Inclusive Culture?

Not everyone understands that retaining moms at work is not only the right thing to do, but it's great for business. How do you convince employees to be more inclusive of everybody?

Not everyone understands that retaining moms at work is not only the right thing to do, but it’s great for business. How do you convince employees to be more inclusive of everybody?

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I am the founder of an interior design company with 12 employees and a good male-female ratio. In the last year, we have had 2 women go on maternity leave, and as a company, we are supportive about women returning to work, and helping them re-adjust to the workplace. However, this is being seen as ‘preferential treatment’ among other employees, especially among men. Besides the fact that legally we need to offer the maternity leave, how do we create a more inclusive culture? How can I convince my other employees that helping these women return to work is actually good for us as a team and for our business?” – Radhika Gujral

I think conversations around diversity during townhalls help everyone to see the case for diversity – however you need to use examples of how it will help profitability and business results rather than projecting it as a do-good mission. Also sometimes it is important to ask everyone why they feel it is preferential treatment and see if you can address that. It may not be just the maternity leave which they are seeing as unfair – it maybe what happens before and after that which is bothering people – where women sometimes take advantage – by treating pregnancy as an excuse or an illness that hampers performance or being distracted (being mentally absent while physically present at work). Some women don’t pick up their part of the load, under the guise of being pregnant/having  a small child etc. As the leader it is important for you to be seen to be fair to both genders, so while maternity leave is a legal responsibility, beyond that, you should expect and demand that women work as hard as their male colleagues.

– Ms. Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Group 

Image via Vecteezy.com

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