Single mothers are largely considered to be “average performers” since their “commitment” to rigorous daily office work could be compromised, while caring for the baby. They may not be available for multi-geography meetings till the wee hours of the night. They may not be able to focus on complex problems, with the toddler around. Precisely, their availability and perseverance, which the organization expects, could get substantially diluted, with her focus getting constantly divided. Especially in high-pressure long-hour jobs that demand her undivided attention.
Tirelessly juggling between work and house, it is commendable how single mothers set an example. We all know the systemic work-related discrimination faced by women in the workspace. The scenario is the worst for single mothers. Single mothers are either divorced or widowed. Instead of judging them based on their talent and potential, they are often judged based on their relationships and marital status. There are multiple cases where women say that they were not offered any increment or promotion despite putting immense effort.
Customer Pay for Staff/ Employees: Irrespective of Gender & Marital/ Parental Status
Customers pay top dollars for a premium service and expect it to be done diligently. Irrespective of the internal staffing model or choice of employees; their gender & marital/ parental status. And organizations, in the midst of suffocating competition, are always striving to impress customers. For the growth of business and revenue stream. Simple !!
So, the company could be compassionate towards a single mother, but to what extent? How long?
- Is it okay to regularly miss critical customer discussions scheduled at 9 PM, with team members located at very different time zones and geographies?
- Is it okay to always ask for easier work items, while others in the team are assigned brain-wracking complex deliverables?
- Is it okay to expect equal considerations in promotions and appraisals, while your contribution to the project was anything extraordinary?
- How long can the organization extend “special considerations” while you deal with your personal problems and responsibilities?
In reality, for most single mothers, it gets difficult to take adequate care of the baby, without essentially compromising on the professional front. Especially during the formative stages of the child. On the contrary, what about single mothers who are super-stars at the workplace too? Are they victims of “generalized” stereo-typed discrimination too?
Discrimination? An Everyday Affair at the Workplace.
- Women are often demoted or terminated when they become pregnant, mostly because they would be undergoing a planned maternity leave. It is assumed that their priorities toward office work would change, soon after the child’s birth.
- After the maternity leave gets over, single mothers are yet another employee, who needs to abide by the organizational work policies laid out for all employees. And most organizations don’t have a well-defined tailor-made flexible work schedule for single mothers.
- Women with children are not promoted simply because they have children. No matter how much hard work they put into their work, it gets underappreciated as it is the general understanding that they always prioritize their duties as a mother.
- Workplaces commonly lie about their performance in order to terminate them.
- Single mothers are hardly given any position of responsibility even when they are the perfect candidate. They are judged based on their marital or relationship status rather than their potential and talent.
Divorced. Single Mother? Unfit for Higher Roles and Management Positions?
In South Asian culture, divorce is still taboo for the entire society. Though South Asian society has opened up a little for women to go out and work, divorced and widowed women are treated differently, every day of their lives. When we talk about the villages and suburbs, women were always restricted from going out. In these spaces, common jobs for women would include agriculture, labor, sewing, small shops, small business, and more. Here, it is even more rigid towards single women in general. The worst-case scenario is for mothers of wedlock.
In America, women are paid 30% less than men which means that the entire financial responsibility of bringing up children is on them. Under this situation, women are not even provided increment, which causes them to change jobs frequently in search of a better livelihood, which doesn’t really create a very good impression on their CVs.
Workplaces should really open up and changed their general approach toward single mothers. A woman needs to be extremely contagious to bring up children alone. When she is trying to do that without seeking help, absolutely on her own, workspaces should respect that and be more open, and treat her on her skills and talent, rather than her personal setting. A woman is an employee, with or without children, and she should be treated based on her talent, skills, and performance and not on her personal setting which she has probably no control upon.