How clever policies can break the bias around miscarriage

So many of the women in my life - colleagues, friends, family - have suffered miscarriages. Myself included. 

This in itself is not surprising, given 1 in 4 pregnancies end this way. 

However what is surprising, is, considering that number, how few people feel they still can’t talk openly about it. Or how fewer businesses have created an open and safe space for that conversation. 

While it might seem like a small thing, creating a policy for these types of issues can really help break the taboo around them and allow people to feel like they can talk. 

Don't get me wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom, though. Certainly, this is slowly beginning to change. At least personally, I’m finding that people are starting to talk about miscarriage more openly both in and out of the workplace. 

This is something I certainly didn’t do only three years ago, but make a point of doing today.

The issue is, even with close friends and family it’s traditional to wait until after twelve weeks to announce a pregnancy, given the risk of miscarriage drops significantly after this point (80% of miscarriages occurring in the first trimester). 

However, such a tradition can be problematic. 

If you’re already keeping a secret, having avoided communicating that you are pregnant in the first place, then miscarriage can feel doubly taboo to open up about.

This is especially true in some less enlightened workplaces where women, in particular, can fear discrimination if they are perceived to be in ‘baby-making mode’ and therefore likely to be accessing maternity leave in the near future.  

The result of this is to make miscarriage a very lonely experience. 

And this is at the heart of the miscarriage bias; this leaning towards stoic silence is what needs to be broken. 

At Lucky Generals, we were one of the first companies to put an official miscarriage policy in place in 2020, outlining the support and paid leave that both women and partners can expect. 

This has been a small but important gesture. 

Whilst the support can be accessed anonymously through HR, I do believe that the success we’ve seen has been to provide a platform for more open conversation and empathy - as you would expect to have with any other life-changing experience - versus gossip and stigma. 

Along with our menopause and parental policies, I also believe this approach has opened up conversation more broadly on the topic of women’s issues within the company.

But we shouldn’t be stopping there. Constantly updating existing policies, and implementing new ones, is something we should all be doing ongoing. These policies allow us as leaders to pinpoint those areas that are broken because of bias. And begin to fix them. 

We are now looking to extend our policies further to put official and openly pre-communicated support in place for those who are going through IVF, or experience difficult pregnancies or premature birth. 

Currently, the expectation for the latter is that you begin your maternity leave as soon as the baby is born, however, this can mean having no choice but to return to work when your baby is younger than you would like. 

Australia was the first country to address this last year.

Our hope is that by having these policies in place, and by communicating about them loudly and proudly both internally and externally, we will continue to provide both support for those who need it, but also provide a platform for more open communication and breaking the bias towards silence on these issues within the workplace.