Supporting the working parents of WEPs signatory companies
Date: Friday, August 27, 2021
Examples worldwide prove that creating a friendly, supportive environment for working parents and offering appropriate initiatives is beneficial not only for employees, especially women, but also for the employers. With such policies and approaches, they have the opportunity to increase employee productivity and satisfaction, retain talented staff, promote women in the workforce and so on.
In line with this international practice, the second of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) calls on businesses to support the elimination of wage and pay discrimination and to support access to childcare, offering a number of recommendations to be implemented by private companies. They include popularizing the equal distribution of family responsibilities, introducing a corporate culture that is focused on family interests, raising awareness on and encouragement of fathers’ maternal habits, adopting health and safety measures for new mothers and pregnant women, and adopting maternity leave.
It should be noted that 53 per cent of women over the age of 15 participate in the labour market in Georgia, while in the case of men, this figure is 79 per cent. For those in their reproductive years (aged 25–34), the share amounts to 58 per cent of women and 85 per cent of men. Moreover, only 3 per cent of employed female workforce, who are civil servants, are entitled by law to full-time maternity leave, while the maximum compensation for other employed women is GEL 1,000, with full-time maternity leave based only on the goodwill of business companies. Consequently, the encouragement of parent-supporting initiatives by the private sector takes on even more importance.
Given this reality, UN Women is actively working to raise awareness on parental support initiatives for business companies in Georgia that support the WEPs. This is particularly important against the backdrop of the pandemic context, which poses new challenges for women in terms of remote work and study, as well as the unequal distribution of household chores. It should be noted that the companies themselves – for example, Liberty Bank, TBC Bank and others – are paying more and more attention to this issue and are introducing certain initiatives.
The practices of the company “Majorel”, which offers customer service to the largest brands in the world from Georgia, are worth mentioning. The company has introduced a number of entertaining online activities, a family support bonus, additional vacation days, psychotherapist services and other useful initiatives, in addition to a nine-month maternity leave for employed parents, employees and their families. Moreover, the company has launched its Feel Good programme, within which they created a parents’ club, whose members discuss current topics together, talk openly about challenges and share their experiences. The club meetings include theoretical and practical activities.
“Parenting, along with being a huge privilege, is also an immense responsibility, which is not always easy to deal with,” said Nino Kevkhishvili, Majorel’s HR business partner. “That is why we decided to do something practical, useful and informative to support the parents working at Majorel. A happy parent of a happy child is much more motivated and successful, so we are planning exciting activities in this field in the future as well. For example, very soon the employed parents will be able to choose their preferred work schedule for themselves in a few months.”
UN Women started working on the Women’s Empowerment Principles in Georgia in 2014 and, with the support of the Government of Norway, has implemented a number of interesting initiatives. Currently, there are already 95 WEPs signatory companies in Georgia. UN Women will continue to work with them on parental support, as well as on other initiatives.