Culture & Entertainment

Live tweets of alleged IBM execs: Are maternity leaves so bad for companies?

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Live tweets of alleged IBM execs: Are maternity leaves so bad for companies?

By: Jennifer Gruden
This week Toronto editor and coder Lyndsay Kirkham live-tweeted a conversation (Huffington Post) she allegedly overheard between IBM executives where the executives apparently said that they don't like hiring young women because they are "just going to get themselves pregnant again and again and again." IBM hasn't yet responded to the alleged conversation. The inherent sexism in the conversation is pretty mind blowing: Really? All young women are going to get pregnant again and again? pregnant_belly But even if women do choose to have children and take maternity leave -- and newsflash to IBM: in Canada, 36 weeks of leave is actually parental leave and can be taken by either parent; thanks to high rates in Quebec, the national average is 30% of men taking some weeks of parental leave -- that doesn't necessarily mean it's a disaster for the company. A maternity leave is a planned absence, unlike a surprise knee injury or a sudden illness. Is IBM sorting its employees for the likelihood of having a serious heart condition, or looking at athletic staff askance because they might sustain an injury? Because those things seem more likely to me to put business at risk. A problem that can be identified 6 months in advance should be one a large corporation, at least, can address. Plus, a maternity leave opening actually can be an opportunity for a number of things, including:
  • cross-training other members of the team on tasks and skills
  • bringing in fresh, outside perspectives for the length of a maternity leave contract
  • identifying people ready for promotion and giving them a trial run with a clear end date
Are there costs associated with maternity leaves? There can be, certainly: Recruiting and hiring isn't inexpensive. But for some roles the budget may actually be eased if the person on contract isn't receiving full benefits, or is at a lower point in the salary range for a position. Maybe these executives should be doing a bit more research into the business case for having women on boards. Have you run up against this attitude? Pregnant? Check out our From bump to baby special feature for the scoop on having a baby. You also might want to check out 7 things you want to know about your pregnancy.
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Live tweets of alleged IBM execs: Are maternity leaves so bad for companies?

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