Anushka Sharma and her cricketer husband Virat Kohli became parents to lil muchkin Vamika Sharma Kohli in January 2021. The actress was on a sabbatical from acting since then until she had decided to make a comeback with Chakda Xpress, a biographical drama based on the illustrious career of former Indian cricket team captain, Jhulan Goswami. Now, in a recent interview, Anushka has opened up about how people do not understand the emotions of a working mother.
Sharma said, “Striking a work-life balance is certainly harder for women. I don’t think people understand the life and emotions of a working mother, because the world is so male-dominated. Heck, I’m a woman; even I didn’t understand it till I became a mother. Today, I have so much more respect and love for women, and such a strong sense of sisterhood. I’ve always spoken up for women, but to feel love and compassion for the cause makes it so much more powerful.”
Anushka Sharma on Working Mothers
She was speaking about her struggles to strike a perfect work-life balance. Calling the world a ‘man’s world’, Anushka shared how people around her do not understand the impediments of working mothers. Anushka further said that after becoming a mom, she developed more respect and a feeling of sisterhood toward other mothers.
She further went on to say, “I wish women received more support in their workplaces. While I know many men who are kind and empathetic towards women, the work culture itself can be so tough. I wish we collectively paid more attention to how nurturing a child is important for the world at large. And that is, probably, the complete opposite of our ‘go, go, go’ culture.”
Don’t all working moms agree with her, not that someone said it for the first time but when a celebrity mom speaks the world takes notice? So, what changes would working moms like at their workplaces?
The pandemic has restructured the thought process
The two-year-long Covid 19 pandemic promoted remote work culture. It has brought home a message, that many women are reconsidering their workplace culture and their treatment during that difficult time. Working mothers are beginning to demand more from their employers. In case employers are not willing to be flexible, working moms are leaving their present jobs for new employers who will be. And many other moms are simply leaving the workforce for the time being. Or they are choosing to take a pay cut to avoid dealing with the huge stress that comes with a job over and above the flexibility concern.
Why are mothers in-demand at workplaces?
In the meantime, the value of women is increasingly being acknowledged by employers. Thankfully! That’s because women bring diverse opinions and new approaches to the table. As mothers, they’ve gained valuable experience in problem-solving, multi-tasking, communicating and diplomacy.
An action plan is needed
Employers need to consider this – generous pay and time off for sick leave are incredibly popular in countries with high rates of working mothers. For example in a country like Sweden, employees are entitled to 90% of their pay while sick for up to 52 weeks. As a result, more than 70% of mothers in Sweden are employed and their child poverty rate is 4%, which indicates that by allowing both parents to work with family-friendly policies in place, their employment policy is a success.
Working moms are looking for companies with greater flexibility to work in off-hours so they can meet family demands, and for companies that are committed to equitable pay and closing the pay gap. They are also willing to switch fields and are looking for companies willing to train them in new career paths. Working moms are looking for certainty of job expectations and performance standards, and they want their employers to communicate the same to them promptly to lessen worry.
One step that companies can consider is to offer stipends to moms to help cover childcare costs or provide affordable on-site day-care. Which very few organisations in India provide.
Working mother-friendly scheduling policies
Studies show that a compressed workweek or a shorter workday can reduce burnout. Bosses should continue to or even begin to proactively ask employees what they need, how they feel, and if they feel comfortable in how they work. Companies need to remember that life, as well as work, have not normalised yet, post-pandemic. Employees, and in particular working mothers need compassion, empathy, and understanding today more than ever.
Having women in leadership positions
A company to be truly women-friendly and mom-friendly need to truly shift company culture. Women should be promoted to leadership positions in all areas and just the token Head of HR and paid equitably to their male counterparts. Because when future women employees will look up to the company’s leadership team and see women represented there, they will know that it is an organisation that encourages women’s growth. By prioritising women in leadership, companies will automatically evolve into spaces where women, especially moms, feel seen, heard, and valued.
Is corporate India listening?
The views expressed are the author’s own.