Today’s workplace conversations might be corporate, but the words they hold sometimes can feel like secrets. Words like pregnancy and miscarriage, ovaries and embryos, fertilization and surrogacy. These words are often taboo in the workplace and an unspoken source of shame for many women at work.
The truth is that fertility is a normal part of life, and yet it’s a topic surrounded by stigma and secrecy. Many workplaces have an almost tacit understanding that no one talks about fertility for fear of “dirtying” their professional reputation should issues arise.
This culture has led to negative effects on fertility patients’ livelihood – survivors of divorce who lost investments in their marriages; employees who
lost important promotions, earned titles and hard-earned salaries because they had difﬁculty conceiving or carrying pregnancies.
In this article, we’ll look at 8 ways to destigmatize fertility in the workplace.
Work With Your HR Department To Create Fertility-Friendly Policies
There are many things you can do to destigmatize fertility in the workplace as an employer. One of the most effective ways is to work with your HR department to create fertility-friendly policies.
For example, if you have a large company, you may want to consider offering paid parental leave for both men and women. This will allow parents who are trying to start a family time off from work without having to worry about losing their jobs or sacriﬁcing their paychecks.
Another way to destigmatize fertility in the workplace would be to offer ﬂexible schedules for employees who need it—for example, if they need to take time off from work every month because they’re having trouble getting pregnant or are undergoing treatment for infertility.
You could also consider allowing employees who are going through IVF treatments (in vitro fertilization) or other fertility treatments to work from home or remotely during some parts of the day so they don’t have to miss out on valuable hours at the ofﬁce due to doctor’s appointments or other appointments related speciﬁcally with their health care needs such as physical therapy sessions (for example).
These policies will not only make it easier for your employees to have children, but they will also help attract more talented individuals to your company.
Normalize the Conversation
Normalizing the conversation about fertility in the workplace can be a great way to destigmatize the topic. When we make it clear that talking about
fertility is not taboo, it helps people feel more comfortable and conﬁdent discussing their own struggles with it.
A lot of times, when women come up with solutions for their fertility issues, they don’t share them because they’re worried about being judged by their colleagues or managers. If you’re able to normalize the conversation around fertility, then women won’t feel like they have to put on a brave face anymore.
Navigating life can be stressful, especially when it comes to fertility and reproductive health. When you join our community, you can share your own experiences, learn from like-minded people and ﬁnally have a safe space to ask questions that have bothered you for so long.
Create A Culture Of Acceptance Within The Company
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could stigmatize fertility. After all, it’s not like the process of making a baby is something that can be hidden or ignored.
It’s an emotional, physical journey that every member of the workplace goes through. But just because we can’t imagine someone stigmatizing fertility doesn’t mean it’s not happening in some workplaces.
It’s important for employers to create a culture of acceptance within their company. This can be done by implementing policies that protect the privacy of employees who are struggling with fertility issues, allowing them to take time off from work without fear of losing their jobs, and providing resources for employees who need them.
This means having clear and consistent guidelines about how employees should treat each other when dealing with personal issues like infertility, miscarriage, adoption, and surrogacy.
While these guidelines will vary from company to company based on industry norms and employee demographics, they should always include clear instructions on how employees should address each other’s reproductive health issues in the workplace.
Make Fertility a Health-Related Topic Rather than a Personal Conversation
As an employer, you can help destigmatize fertility in the workplace by making fertility a health-related topic rather than a personal conversation.
When you make it clear that you’re talking about your fertility within the context of your health, it’s easier for people to understand and accept what’s going on with you.
It also allows others in the ofﬁce who may not have kids yet or may not have even started trying yet to see themselves in your shoes, which can help them relate better when they are faced with similar issues down the road.
You can encourage your employees to discuss their fertility issues by creating an atmosphere where it is okay to talk about it.
Offer Paid Fertility Leave and Beneﬁts
While you might not have many employees who have experienced fertility issues, it’s important to offer paid leave for those who do experience this issue.
If an employee is going through fertility treatment and needs extra time off, or if she needs to take time off for doctor appointments, it’s important that you accommodate her requests. You can also provide fertility beneﬁts for employees who are undergoing treatments (if your company has a health plan).
This will show that you care about your employees’ health and well-being, which will help them feel more comfortable talking about fertility issues with their coworkers and employer.
Educate Employees About Available Resources, Such As Fertility Leave And Health Insurance Coverage
If you’re an employer, you can take steps to destigmatize fertility in the workplace by educating your employees about available resources. For example, if your company offers fertility leave and health insurance coverage for IVF treatments, let them know.
You could also point out that you’re happy to have a conversation with anyone who is interested in taking advantage of these options.
Provide Medical Coverage for Fertility Treatments
If you’re an employer, you can help destigmatize fertility treatments in the workplace by providing medical coverage for them.
Many people are hesitant to use their health plan to pay for fertility treatments because they’re afraid of being judged by coworkers. But if you provide this coverage, it will be clear that your company is supportive of workers’ rights to seek treatment for infertility and does not judge them for doing so.
You’ll also show that you care about the wellbeing of your employees, which can help attract more applicants who are interested in working at a place where they feel valued and supported.
Let’s be honest—fertility is a difﬁcult, scary subject to broach in the workplace. Yet, infertility and miscarriages can happen to anyone, at any time.
By talking about this subject matter openly, you can help destigmatize fertility in the workplace and reduce the feelings of shame, anger and frustration around this issue.
Companies need to take steps toward destigmatizing fertility in the workplace, adopting practices such as those listed above to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all employees.