Yes, absolutely. The issues of fertility are constantly threatening the women’s career which adds to the already-present stress due to her struggles with infertility.
Almost 55% of IVF cycles in India are being performed in the top 8 metro cities. Do you know why?
Because that’s where a large population of women faces lifestyle issues which leads to problems in fertility.
That’s also where women give equal importance to their career as much as their personal goals but face injustice at work when they are dealing with fertility issues.
Are you one of the corporate women battling with fertility issues who had to take frequent leave for fertility treatment?
Have you ever lied to your boss when you were going for these treatments? Did you apply for ‘sick leave’ or ‘had a function to attend’ or ‘had an emergency at home’ whenever you wanted to take leave for fertility treatment?
Have you ever felt embarrassed to talk about your problems to your colleagues, or even worse, judged and gossiped by your co-workers behind your back after you had gathered the courage and opened up about your problems?
Long gone are those days when a woman leaves her job for good when she is trying to conceive or gets pregnant. They try to cope up with their infertility issues trying not to compromise on their job for it. But does it make their issues any easy? Let’s find out.
How Does Infertility Impact A Woman’s Career?
A working woman may delay childbearing to focus on her career first. But when she attains the stage where she is ready to have a child, some might face the bitter truth of infertility problems cropping up. She then has to shuttle between her work and the fertility treatments, ending up in influencing one another.
What’s more shocking is, not many bosses know that their employees are dealing with fertility issues! As many women feel uncomfortable talking about their issues, it becomes even more complicated and stressful for them to manage their work in midst of their fertility treatments.
Why Do Women Feel Uncomfortable To Discuss Infertility At Work?
In a poll conducted by Infertility Dost, a majority of women stated the reason as the fear of being judged. Our Indian society is strongly opinionated that discourages these women from opening up about the hardships they are going through every day.
Sheela (Name changed), a 26-year-old ambitious woman, works in a corporate company in Mumbai. Top performer and a social person, one fine day, she discovered that she has fertility issues. What does Sheela do? Does she resign her job and hide in her home, cursing her destiny? No! She puts on a brave face, gathers all her strength and goes about with her usual work at the office. Isn’t that brave of her? Shouldn’t she be encouraged to keep up her positive spirit?
Not everybody thinks so. Her boss now sees her as someone who is missing lots of work as she often takes leave for fertility treatment and consultations, though she tries to make up for it the next day. Her colleagues see her as a fodder to keeps the gossip mills running. No one ever thinks to see the spirit she carries by battling out her fertility issues in midst of all this office drama!
So she limited her conversations with others, knowing well that she is being talked behind at her back. This increases her trauma and her performance at work takes a toll. Now the corporate takes this chance and cites the fall in her performances and the frequent leave for fertility treatment, and robs her of the promotion she actually deserves.
So would you say that Sheela is at fault if she does not want to open up about her issues at the workplace?
When the people around her can show some consideration, only then she will be ready to open up. A woman sees how the other women in her company with fertility issues were treated. So when she realizes that she too has the same problem, wouldn’t she think twice about revealing it, given the fact how badly the others were treated?
Infertility Is JUST A Health Issue Like Any Other.
Then Why Is She Given A Hard Time To Take Leave For Fertility Treatment?
Everyone has to get it through their mind that infertility is another health issue like anything else. Why is it being prejudiced?
Many bosses see the women with fertility issues as a liability and not treat them as another employee with health issues thus affecting their rightful promotions, incentives and superior responsibilities.
One in eight women is facing infertility problems worldwide. Infertility has become a common problem that many probably come across women with fertility issues regularly.
The corporate do not treat a man with a fractured hand, or a senior with diabetes or woman who has to operate for heat burns, the same way as they treat a woman with fertility issues.
While people with other health problems can get leaves without the boss groaning, why is it criticized when a woman takes leave for fertility treatment?
Because they do not consider it as a health issue, they do not see the effort these women are exerting to put behind their issues and give their maximum to their work.
What these women require is moral support and for people to understand what they go through. Research has shown that the stress levels of women undergoing infertility issues are equal to that of cancer, AIDS or heart disease. Going through infertility issues are one of the most strenuous phases in a woman’s life. This is the time when she needs consideration from the people around her to reduce her stress.
How Can The Corporate Companies Help?
A recent study in the U.S. by ‘Come Recommended’ conducted in 2017 found that 29.72% of employees have quit their jobs because they do not feel supported by their employers with respect to infertility while 26.85% are open or looking for new opportunities due to the same reason. Maybe this is why around 47% of employees did not want to disclose about their infertility issues in the workplace.
In a survey conducted by Infertility Dost, 56% of women said that their boss and colleagues are not understanding about the infertility problems they are facing.
What Can The Boss Do?
A supportive boss is what she needs the most to help reduce the stress from her job. Instead of seen as a liability, if they are given a little consideration, it will help them get stabilized emotionally and perform better too. Also, employees who fell cared for will show motivation, commitment and loyalty at work which is ultimately the characteristics that any company looks for.
When women are facing infertility issues, they would need to spend a lot of time shuttling to hospitals to undergo treatments and taking time to recover from them. Hence, during such times, flexible working schedule or work-from-home options can prove to be very beneficial.
What Can The HR Do?
- The HR can introduce ‘specific’ paid medical leave for fertility treatment.
- The HR can also arrange awareness sessions for all the employees to understand and be supportive of their fellow colleagues facing infertility issues.
- The HR can also arrange for medical insurances for infertility treatments as they are quite expensive.
- The HR can partner with some of the facilities offering infertility treatments and provide services to their employees at discounted rates.
What Can The Fellow Employees Do?
In this challenging and laborious phase of their lives, support from fellow colleagues can make a world of difference to them. A helping hand in taking care of her work till she returns from an emergency run to the hospital to get results, pitching in to take a load off when she gets stressful, giving hope when feels hopeless, or just offering comfort when she is dejected will go a long way in easing this difficult journey.
Or, if you can’t help them in any of these situations, at least do not make it any harder for them. Judging them, gossiping about them, taunting them for taking extra leave for fertility treatment, or purposefully making them feel bad by asking them embarrassing questions is a very immature and vile thing to do.
It’s fine if you do not support her as long as you are not harming her mentally.
Can Insurance Help You Out Monetarily?
While there certain insurance policies that cover infertility treatments under their health insurances, there is no concrete insurance support from the companies in India as such. Starbucks offers insurance coverage for infertility treatments for up to $20,000 for all its employees including the part-time ones. But Indian companies are yet to come up with any kind of specific insurance coverage for its employees for fertility treatments.
Read More: Managing Infertility or IVF Cost in India
If you want to opt for infertility insurance as a standalone policy in India, Magda HDI General Insurance Company provides insurance for IVF treatments. In India, the IVF treatments cost from Rs. 1.5 lakhs to Rs. 3.5 lakhs depending on the location and the number of cycles. This is an expensive procedure for many Indian families. Hence, this insurance is first of a kind in India started in 2017 that offers insurance specifically for IVF treatments.
Now a few other insurance companies are also coming up with coverage for fertility treatment in certain registered clinics and hospitals with a waiting period of 3 years after the inception of the policy.
Finally, what can ‘YOU’ do?
- It is not that bad to confide in a few individuals. Choose a few wisely who can always defend you in your office when someone gossips about you and offers you comfort.
- Be open to your superiors when you can’t take up work because you have an appointment with a doctor or in the middle of a treatment. You have the right to take leave for fertility treatment. Stand up for what you rightfully deserve.
- Do not overload the work you don’t like just to have a distraction from all the pressure you are under. Try to do works that you enjoy and cheer you naturally.
- There is nothing wrong when you have a sad or a moody day. Do not take it hard on yourself or on the people around you. Be gentle with yourself.
- If nothing else goes well, you can always bank on the support of your family and friends. Try to spend more time with the people who really matter to you. Those are the kinds of people who can make you feel good about yourself and support you on your journey.
These women face lots of grueling instances in this journey of fertility and hence it is only fair for them to expect a little compassion from the people around them. A little gesture can go a long way in helping them cope up with the issues. So treat them well and help them get through it with encouragement and support.
Tags: corporate women depression in infertility female infertility fertility fertility treatment infertility treatment ivf treatment psychological problem working women and infertility
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