Monday, 21 July 2008

Market Bust - Baby Boom

Have you noticed an increasing number of pregnant women around the office? Could this potentially be directly linked to the market downturn?

Always trying to be as attentive as possible, it did not pass me by that there is a growing number of women in my firm who are growing quite literally, i.e. sporting a baby bump.

Wondering whether this could possibly be a coincidence, I discussed with a few colleagues (who I knew would not immediately report me to the diversity committee) to see whether it was only me who thought that there could be more behind this.

It very quickly transpired that there were a number of possible reasons for this clustering of moms-to-be.

  • The simplest reason could be that by virtue of the business and the age structure of the employees, a lot of female co-workers are in their early to mid-thirties which is (at least nowadays) the age at which women have babies.
  • It was suspected though that there could be a correlation to the market downturn. Somebody suggested that pregnancy could "immunise" against being laid off since banks would certainly not make an expecting woman redundant. Although general consensus was that this sounds too calculating to be a viable argument.
  • The link to the market downturn could be more subtle though: A pregnancy usually means for the mother to be up to 6 months off work which would naturally have an impact on the bonus for this particular year. If you are planning to have a baby anyway (and are reasonably flexible about the timing), why not go ahead with this plan in a year where the bonus sacrifice will be significantly less than in other years? Since business is slow in many areas, this might be a good time to take the baby break and return to a more benign market environment at the other end of the maternity leave.
Clearly, it is impossible to be conclusive about any such relation between the current market conditions and the number of bumps around.

Unless proven otherwise, we shall stick to the ancient motto: "Honi soit qui mal y pense" and believe all this is caused by the fact that - as Richard Curtis' would put it - "Love actually is all around."
Originally published on HereIsTheCity Life on 04th June 2008, the original can be viewed here.