‘Apple and Facebook offer to freeze eggs for female employees’ read the headline. I couldn’t help my first reaction. Really? That’s the best they can do?
Apple and Facebook are considered the game changers, the big thinkers, the renegades, when it comes to business in the 21st Century. How disappointing is it that their big solution to attract more women to the IT sector is to suggest that they should dedicate their best child bearing years to them, and then, down the track, go through a painful, invasive treatment to have their babies? I know a few women who have experienced IVF and whilst they love the bundles of joy it produced, they swear they wouldn’t wish the process on their worst enemy. And not every journey has a happy ending. Not every egg is viable.
As I mention in my book, Business & Baby at Home; the fact we continue to segregate work and parenthood astounds me. Particularly, as most people need, or want, both in their lives. Yet, when we look further afield, we see examples of work and motherhood harmoniously aligning. In France, for instance, the social infrastructure is supportive of working mothers, with a range of benefits offered to make the transition back to work easier. This includes 100 per cent state-covered pregnancy health care from six months onwards, four months maternity leave paid by the government at full working rate, and even personal training to help mothers get back into shape after the birth. France also offers free preschools from age three, complete with nutritious meals and significant tax deductions for each child. Oui, oui!
So perhaps it’s a problem of thinking too big? Maybe it’s just a matter of getting the basics right first… and seeking out simpler solutions to implement now.
Like pregnancy parking spaces… Hands up who knows the feeling of waddling nine months pregnant from one side of the car park to the other on a hot summer’s day… Wondering if it’s just sweat dripping down your thigh, or whether your water has just broken.
Breast feeding booths anyone? Many, many women have told me their breastfeeding war stories from businesswomen sitting on toilets to studiously pump their breast milk, to the mum who diligently pumped litres to cover the hours she was at work only to have her freezer pack it in, and it all be poured down the sink.
How about child care options? We need to think big on daycare facilities; private and on-site at big corporates, tax-deductible nannies, or providing rewards for grandparents who can help out. Did you know a woman is only left with 15% of her income when earning $66,000, if she has two children in care?
And flexible work arrangements, yep, that old chestnut. Let’s face it – the traditional 9-5 is not conducive to the responsibilities of looking after kids. It’s time to think outside the square, or timetable. Why can’t we shift our day, and be judged on productivity, not on whether we are physically sitting at our office desk come 9am. And this goes for both mums and dads, because child-rearing is a team-sport.
These are the kinds of solutions that achieve a happier and more engaged employee.
I love being a graphic designer. I managed to build a successful career, but then I fell pregnant with my first child. With the shortage of daycare, the expense of nannies, and grandparents who were still working full-time themselves, I saw no choice but to take the bull by the horns and move my business home. And the statistics say, there’s a sea of parents following suit. So, thank you Apple and Facebook, but I’ll decide how I have my eggs, and frozen ain’t it!