IBM hit the headlines this week when it announced its plans to introduce a service enabling working mothers to ship breast milk home to their child when travelling on business.
My first thought when I read this was how great it is to see an organisation really taking strides to go the extra mile in its support for working mothers. Leaving a child to travel on business can be difficult enough as it is, even more so if a mother is still nursing. So anything an employer can do to support employees in this situation should be applauded.
But, while I fully support IBM’s initiative, my more cynical side can’t help but wonder whether this is a ploy to justify the employer sending staff on business trips when they have young children.
Are working mothers given the choice about whether they wish to travel on business, leaving their baby behind?
Should employers instead be looking at possible alternatives, such as teleconferencing, for staff who would rather not travel?
And where there really is no option, but for the employee to travel, should they be given the option of taking their child with them if they wish?
Or in the age of equality should we even be asking such questions in the first place?