Saturday, September 30, 2006

Does pregnancy make a woman less capable?

I am prompted to write this due to a recent experience of a lady.

This particular lady was working for a very progressive (at least on the outset) company successfully managing a division of about 50 people. She was instrumental in setting up this division and she has trained the workforce single handedly to achieve very successful service levels. Her job was particularly made tough by the fact that Sri Lanka does not produce qualified people in this area. So it is essential to recruit and train the correct people for this job. And this particular division earned respect in general from within the company as well as from their customers for providing an efficient and courteous service.

Then this company expanded. Naturally this division was also expanded and diversified. She had participated on all the activities related to the expansion. She met the potential clients and had performed some activities beyond her scope such as training potential client organizations on behalf of her company. She identified her best staff to man the new operations and trained them further. She did everything that was expected out of her division to tackle this new business opportunity.

On the day before the launch of this new business, she was told, over the phone mind you, that the higher management of the company has decided to put another guy in charge of this operation because they felt she would not be able to handle it due to the fact that she was PREGNANT! And the person appointed was someone who had no clue about the operation, but because he was a guy, they thought he would be able to put in more time!

It is true that being pregnant she will not be able to spend her every working hour to the company. But they did not seem to have an issue with that when they got her involved in setting up the new operation. But after her doing the hard work, if they have a concern with her going on maternity, they should have the decency to discuss it openly with her, explain their concerns and let her be heard. But what they have done is unprofessional and unethical. Letting her find out from others that she will be replaced and after realizing that the cat has been let out, just confirming it over the phone, without giving her the due respect of telling it to her face to face!

What beats me is does it mean that being pregnant makes a woman less capable? They knew very well that she was pregnant when they requested her to help out with the ground work. They knew the time frames when she will be going on maternity leave. But still they never had any issue with her pregnancy then. But despite her doing all of that they had no decency to tell her properly that someone else will be appointed, probably because they know that their case was not very strong. So they get away by telling her over the phone!

It's pretty funny to me. Seems these guys have missed out the point. They are here because at some point their mothers decided to give birth to them. Obviously for a woman being a mother is more important than anything else. But holding that fact against her is a violation of her human rights. They are lucky that it is Sri Lankan lady and she does not want to take them to courts over the matter. But I believe that she has a pretty strong case. At least I think it is essential to bring such practices out to the open. Such companies should be avoided by the citizens, for their unfair and unethical treatment of mothers!

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