Helping mothers rejoin the workforce

Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives offer an opportunity for companies to not only give back to their society, but also contribute to the wellbeing of their employees. Accordingly, improving the health and welfare of personnel empowers individuals and organisations to achieve their goals while creating a positive impact on staff morale and motivation.

 

Companies have been involved in different strategic employee wellness initiatives, from creating and encouraging a healthy lifestyle to ensuring women, especially new mothers, are given all possible assistance at the workplace. The number of women at the workplace has increased over the years, especially in the UAE, where the Government has been encouraging women to take on a number of leadership roles. The recently formed UAE Gender Balance Council is driving women’s participation in national development under the UAE’s Vision 2021.[i]

 

With women being required to multi-task every single day, some of the issues they face include maintaining a work-life balance, ensuring the right upbringing for their children while building a career, as well as insufficient maternity leave and lack of support for breast feeding mothers. The latter is a growing concern across a number of organisations. Given the substantial presence of mothers in the work force, there is a strong need to establish lactation support in the workplace.

 

According to a recent Philips research, 69% of mothers say that adequate rooms for expressing breast milk are lacking. Returning to work often presents a barrier to breastfeeding among new moms. Almost half of the working mothers stated that they lack the support of their employer to express milk at the work place. Nearly two thirds of mothers claimed they were not aware that they are allowed to take breastfeeding and pumping breaks at work, and only 23% of these women actually take them, highlighting the many challenges faced by new moms in the work place.

 

Breastfeeding can be a sensitive and difficult issue for employees to discuss with their employer, but it is an important one to help new mothers in their transition back to work after maternity leave. A recent partnership between Philips AVENT and Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group has seen the launch of an initiative to support breast feeding mothers by setting up pumping facilities in the workplace. This would include setting up a room which offers a calm and conducive environment for new mothers. While Philips AVENT will provide the breast-feeding pump, the rest of the elements within the room set-up such as a refrigerator to store the expressed milk, suitable furniture, comfortable seating and an attached sink will be facilitated through various product options provided by ESAG entities.  The initiative is part of ESAG’s commitment to support Royal Philips’ commitment to the ‘Every Women Every Child’ UN initiative.   

 

Such initiatives seek to make it easier and more comfortable for mothers to express their milk in a private hygienic space in the workplace, helping mothers to breastfeed for longer. The initiative takes into account both World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and UAE federal law, which respectively encourage and mandate moms to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed until the child is two years.

 

Breast milk helps with the growing needs of the baby. On the other hand, breast feeding also has great benefits for the mother. From reducing the risk of having breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones), cardiovascular diseases and obesity to building a strong emotional bond with your child.[ii] Understanding the importance of the above benefits, the UAE has dedicated areas for women in several malls and working places for breastfeeding.

 

Initiatives such as the ‘Mommy’s Expressing Lounge’, where a positive, accepting attitude is shown to new mothers, can help them feel more confident and eventually encourage them to return to work. The support for mothers to continue working results in increased employee retention, efficiency and job satisfaction. Philips and Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group are offering support to companies wishing to install expressing spaces, in order to encourage widespread adoption of the initiative. These opportunities encourage like-minded organizations and employers to adopt such initiatives, promoting healthy families and empowering the women workforce.

 


[i] http://www.thenational.ae/business/the-life/positive-role-models-show-that-women-in-the-uae-can-have-it-all

[ii] There are dedicated areas for women in several malls and working places for breastfeeding.

 

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