A written policy is not a brand, perception, or impression

A written policy is not a brand, perception, or impression

Todd Raphael

Todd Raphael

Employer Branding Today is proud to welcome guest writer Todd Raphael. In his article, Todd explains that despite your written policies, your employees still have another perception or understanding of your workplace. The question is: How can you, as an employer, identify and address all those unwritten policies that create an atmosphere of uncertainty? 



by Todd Raphael

I was recently on the phone for ERE.net, talking to a company president about our website, conferences, and so on. He said it’d been an emotional day: an employee told him she was pregnant with her third child, and that she was scared.

He told me he wasn’t 100% sure why she was scared, but a small part of it, he thought – written policies or the law aside — was a fear she’d somehow lose her job or wouldn’t be wanted anymore. (“I’ve decided to keep it,” she told him – almost as if she thought he was going to tell her she shouldn’t!)

She didn’t need to work, but loved her job and didn’t want to lose it. She didn’t want to keep it solely for legal reasons – she wanted to still be wanted.

Certainly there is discrimination, and apparently the third pregnancy can be the most nerve-wracking for working mothers.

But this company president told me he was different. He told me that he told her that she’s welcome back and eagerly awaited any time, as soon or as not soon as she wants – and that as far as her job is concerned, she has nothing to fear.

He told me there may be a communication problem as well. And he’s probably right.

As I said here regarding dress codes and vacations in my comments at the bottom of this article, a written policy is not an unwritten policy. You may think employees or prospects believe something, but the rumor mill, the reputation, the brand, the impression, the perception – it may be another. You may provide x amount of leave and y amount of this or that, but an employee or candidate may still believe a pregnancy can only hurt their career.

There are written policies you can consider to make life better for pregnant employees, like reworking your maternity leave to provide more time at the end of a pregnancy, not just after a baby is born. But creating “an accepting work environment” for pregnant mothers is just as important, as is communicating to your workforce and your prospective employees that your written policy about leave is no more important than your unwritten policy that having a family should not be cause for a mother to be scared for her job.


Todd Raphael, Editor-in-Chief of  ERE Media