Innovative Ways to Reduce the “Uterus” Barrier in your Workplace

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

So this is my first blog post for Coffee Shop HR, I am excited, yet a little nervous. I just can’t figure out what I am going to write about. But luckily, I attended this very inspiring BC HRMA event on Tuesday and wanted to share some of what I gather with everyone. The event was a panel discussion about ways the workplaces are supporting women in business. This event came at a perfect timing, with the recent controversial issue of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer taking only two weeks maternity leave and her recent ban of telecommuting for Yahoo’s employees.

When I was sitting in the room, it was very interesting to see that majority of the room, more than 95%, were women. It really got me thinking if it’s because there are a lot of women in the HR profession or if this topic mostly interests women.

I was happy to hear that none of the three successful women on the panel had personally encountered barriers in their workplaces. Unfortunately, that is not the case with all women. As the panelists mentioned, they know of many women who have encounter barriers in their workplaces. Some of the common barriers mentioned were cultural and societal, like how certain industries are still male dominant or the fact that there is a slow transition in acceptance of women as leaders. Sometimes, these barriers may be personal.

What really stuck out to me is that policies can greatly affect and alter these barriers for women. Government and companies can implement and encourage policies such as parental leave so that instead of the women, the men can take the leave. Having this policy will lead to the change in the negative societal view of hiring women because women are going to take maternity leave. I mean, having parental leave seems reasonable and may sound like such a small thing but this may make a great impact in the long run. Even I have personally encountered the stereotype that hiring women will be more costly and troublesome than hiring men because women are the ones who need to take maternity leave eventually. This stereotype needs to go, as many women nowadays are choosing not to have children. Why are we being discriminated because of our gender? If only society, government and companies encourage paternal leave, that’s when this barrier and discrimination can slowly get broken down.

This is not to say that all companies are not being flexible and innovative in creating workplaces to support women, as I know some companies are. Companies are offering flex hours, telecommute, in house childcare and breastfeeding rooms. One other interesting program that I really like is where companies partner up with restaurants so their employees can just buy food on the way home to help reduce the domestic duties that women are “traditionally” responsible for. Hearing about all these little steps companies are taking to encourage women in business is truly motivating.

What innovative ways does your workplace have in reducing the barrier? Go ahead, speak up, do something innovative! Let’s work together to get rid of this barrier together.

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