Women and Their Managers Struggle with the “Big News”

Women are having children later in their careers and therefore have more responsibility on their plates when they start a family.  For those that want to maintain a fruitful career, they need to do a little extra work to make sure everyone at work (including their boss, employees, customers, and peers) know they are coming back as strong as ever.  

While every good manager puts on a happy face and genuinely congratulates the woman on her big news, they also secretly struggle with concerns about whether she will return after having the baby, if she’ll want to go part time, how this will impact team performance, and whether they need to begin recruiting now to backfill part or all of her work.  These are real concerns that affect team engagement, effectiveness, and morale.   

To help both the women planning families and the managers of these women cope better with these situations, check out these resources:  

  • Women planning families:  If you are planning a family (read the family planning definition first) and want to make sure your career trajectory stays on track, you should apply the advice in The Career-Family Formula™:  Three Steps Female Leaders Must Take When Planning a Family.  In this eBook, Suz O’Donnell, President and Lead Coach of Thrivatize LLC, shares tangible advice for ensuring everyone around you knows you are coming back to work after you have your baby and that you want to maintain an amazing career while your family grows.
  • Managers, Human Resources, and Diversity Officers:  Even in the most supportive environments, unconscious bias can make a pregnant woman feel like her career trajectory is at risk.  The more you can do to prevent these feelings, the more likely she is to come back feeling that you support her ongoing career development and success.  Check out Suz Graf O’Donnell, President and Lead Coach of Thrivatize LLC’s whitepaper The Overlooked Opportunity To Retain More Women In Leadership.  This whitepaper includes an engaging story of what can go wrong when well-meaning managers aren’t certain about the career desires of their employees who are planning a family.  It also highlights team performance risks and costs savings that you can address by properly preparing your female leaders for this big change in their lives.

   

Negotiate for a Better Maternity Leave

IMaternity-Leave-Proposalt’s no secret that maternity leave benefits in the US are lacking.  You know it’s bad when our own President fronts us out.  To quote him directly, “the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.”  But, we can’t let that get us down because bringing a child into this world is one of, it not THE most rewarding and important thing we can do to in our lifetimes.

The good news is that even when you think the deck is stacked against you and you’re concerned that you won’t get a fair shake when you ask for maternity leave, there are experts out there who have successfully helped women to not only get a fair maternity leave but also a great maternity leave.  Today I would like to introduce you to an expert in this area, Pat Katepoo.

Pat has been a work options advisor since 1993 and her website Work Options has been online since 1997. Thousands of busy professionals have found answers and relief through her services.  Pat says, “Women aren’t socialized to negotiate and so they are less inclined than men to ask for what they need or want. And research shows that often women fail to see their options or even think to ask for them.   So maybe you don’t know what you don’t know.”  Pat can help you see your options and ask for them.

Whether you choose her do-it-yourself guides or her personal services by phone you get practical help negotiating various work options to make your life calmer and easier. Options such as job flexibility, a fabulous pay raise, and more maternity leave and other time off.

Please take a few moments right now to visit Pat at WorkOptions.  I really think she’s the best in this subject area and definitely the most experienced.  I always keep a link to her site on the side of my blog posts because I think her services are so valuable to working women.  I’m an affiliate for Pat’s tools and resources so each purchase you make drops a few coins in the bucket to fund The Maternity Leave Coach, so “thank you” in advance.

 

Job Searching While Pregnant

I had a question come in a few weeks ago and it prompts a good discussion about whether or not you should apply for new roles when you are pregnant. “Will they offer me the job if they know I am pregnant?” was the question posed. I offered up the very gray answer of “It depends.”

So “it depends” is based on several different factors which I’ll outline below.

#1 Are they Neanderthals who aren’t very interested in following the law?

If so, anticipate that if you have a visible baby bump you will probably get turned down. If you are not yet showing this puts you in the seat of whether or not you will disclose that you are expecting. We’ll cover how to handle that scenario a little later.

Regardless, if you already know that they are Neanderthals and you have other options to pursue – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME. Why would you want to work for a bad company/boss anyway if you have a choice to go elsewhere??

Read moreJob Searching While Pregnant

What Happens If You Work for “Neanderthal Inc.”?

I am so excited to share a special guest post from my husband and biggest supporter.  Take a few minutes to hear his perspective on maternity leave.

For starters, I’m really proud of my wife for doing the Maternity Leave Coach blog and helping get useful topics/hints/suggestions out there that working women can use when they are on the verge of experiencing the most amazing event they will ever experience in their life. My wife asked me to chime in on a guest post, so we chatted about what I’ve experienced in my working life.

For starters, I’ve had a knack in my working life for working around and with companies that could also be labeled as “Neanderthal Inc.”  By that I mean that they are typically male dominated and may have a culture that is gruff and quite frankly doesn’t understand women and how to work with them or develop them so they are vital parts of the organization. Fortunately, my wife has mostly worked for large companies that have had fairly progressive policies when it comes to women and typically would go above any federal minimums when it came to maternity leave and benefits like that. So, it’s safe to say we’ve had different experiences over our almost 20+ years working. We were talking about her blog recently (did I mention I’m proud of her?) and why some women might not want to tell their managers they are pregnant or that they might be nervous about their future when there are laws to protect them. Here are some observations I’ve made over the years.

Read moreWhat Happens If You Work for “Neanderthal Inc.”?

Like Learning to Ride a Bike

This Labor Day weekend has been stressful.  Not because I had to work while everyone was off sunbathing by the lake but because I was off and decided to tackle a project that I really didn’t want to do.

That project?  Re-teaching my 8 year old son how to ride his bike.   Sounds easy because re-teaching should just take a gentle nudge, an encouraging word or a trip down memory lane to recollect about how he rode his bike last summer.  As a matter of fact, he rode his bike just two weeks ago.  But, two weeks ago he also fell off his bike (in the grass so don’t shed too many tears) and that led to the drama that we have experienced over the holiday.

Read moreLike Learning to Ride a Bike

Elephant in the Maternity Ward

Ok, I’m just going to have to blog about it.  Everyone else is making a big hub-bub and since I think I am the only blogger in the US blogging about maternity leave,  it would be really weird for me not to take this opportunity to say something.  It’s like the elephant in the maternity ward.

What is the IT I’m talking about?  We’ll, the IT, I mean, SHE is Marissa Mayer, the new Yahoo CEO.   Her quote heard ’round the world goes a little something like this.

“My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it.”

Read moreElephant in the Maternity Ward

Summer Schedule’s Got Me Scattered

Hey working moms out there!  It’s been a lllloooooonnnnngggg time since I’ve posted on the blog.  Why?  No real valid excuse except that I’m all off kilter because we’ve done end of school, vacation and now we’re in the midst of summer camp.

End of school brings all sorts of meetings, awards ceremonies, parties and general chaos.   Vacation I can’t complain about because it’s wonderful!  Summer camp really throws me off my game.   Luckily I work a reduced work schedule so I’m still at work the same amount of hours for the week, but, the later start to summer camp pushes our day later, our dinner later, and our bedtimes later.  My son seems to adjust well since he can sleep a little later but for mom, it’s more time on the road driving both to and from school.

So that’s my bit of venting and to put it all into perspective, I only have one child!  I know a mom of six who has been doing summers for years so I shouldn’t be complaining.  But, I am admitting to you all now that I’m already stressing about how we’ll handle next summer.  We’ve got a good gig now because my son can go to the summer camp at his school but as he gets older he’ll want to go to the cool astronaut camp that only operates from 8:15 am – 1:13 pm or the underwater explorer experience at the aquarium that is Tuesday, Thursdays and third Saturdays from 2:12 pm – 4:44 pm.  Who can drive their kids back and forth with these crazy camp hours?  I’m so glad my work allows for me to adjust my schedule but it still has me tweaked out.

I’m thinking about hiring a college student next summer to drive him to camps and stay at home with him in between but that’s going to be a chunk of change.  I’m curious as to what other working moms do for summer kid care, so weigh in and let me know how you manage it all.

 

Why Women Don’t Return After Maternity Leave

Helen Letchfieldco-founder of Parenting for Professionals Ltd in the UK, which enables companies to support new and existing parents at work through coaching,  wrote a great article at TrainingJournal.com  about the reasons why women leave the workforce after maternity leave.   Here’s a bit of what Helen had to say:

Returning to work after maternity leave is one of the biggest changes a female employee will ever have to make.  Yet in many organisations, this life-changing event remains unsupported.  Very typically, women returners struggle in silence, not wanting to appear ‘needy’ by asking for help.

Read moreWhy Women Don’t Return After Maternity Leave

The Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Julie Steinberg wrote a nice article that encapsulated the four rules you need to remember about your maternity leave.  I’ve linked to the article at the end of this post.  I wanted to expand a bit on her rules and ask you all if you’d add any more rules to the list.

1.  Start the conversation early

I was glad to see that the women Julie referred to in the article recommended letting managers know sooner than later.   The 12 week mark seems to be a good time to let people know.  You’d want to share the news sooner if you are having an especially tough time with morning sickness or you are high risk and may need accommodations during your pregnancy.  

Read moreThe Four Rules of Maternity Leave

When Work and Family Collide – Missing the Big School Event

I really love Fast Company magazine and I was perusing their site the other day and stumbled upon this oldie but goodie.  Funny to think that 2007 is an oldie but in our world it’s so five years ago! But the concept of the article was timeless.  Here’s the scenario:  Cali Williams Yost, the author and well known expert on worklife issues, had been invited to a national gathering of flexibility experts.  Sounds awesome right?  Just the group to affect change in the world!

Read moreWhen Work and Family Collide – Missing the Big School Event

Working Through Mommy Brain

My pals at LiberatingWorkingMoms recently wrote about “mommy brain” and it sparked some reflection on my part about how my pregnancy and now everlasting mommy brain has impacted my work. Overall, it’s been a good thing if you don’t count the really stupid stuff I’ve done.

If you want to get all scientific about it, there is a great book by Katherine Ellison called The Mommy Brain that makes the argument that women can actually get smarter as a result of having children. So I guess the Octomom is a genius?!?

Read moreWorking Through Mommy Brain

My Day As a Stay At Home Mom…Fail

Last week my son was sick so I stayed home from work with him.  I had such grand visions of all the things that I would accomplish on my day as a stay at home mom.

I have always fancied that if I stayed at home my house would be so clean and I’d be so fit and cute all the time.  Maybe I’d wear a little black track suit to go pick my son up from school (with Starbucks in hand) after my book club at Barnes and Noble.   I’d also work on volunteering at the school and Fridays would be the day I ran copies for teachers in the workroom.  On those days I’d wear skinny jeans and a hip scarf with some jewelry I got from my neighbor who sells Silpada.  Scary how detailed the fantasy was.

Read moreMy Day As a Stay At Home Mom…Fail

I Gotta Have Faith – Working Your Real Hours

In my workplace I am an oddity.  Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. I’m just odd.  As a creative, outgoing person I am outside the norm of my introverted engineery co-workers.
  2. I’m female.  Probably 85% – 90% of the workforce in my organization of 5,000+ is male.
  3. I work a reduced work schedule at a reduced salary.  (Insert sound of a co-worker spitting out their coffee at the horror of this thought)

    Read moreI Gotta Have Faith – Working Your Real Hours

It’s Not All About the Money, Right? Moms earn up to 14 percent less than women who don’t have children

Usually my radio is tuned to NPR and I listen to it every day during my commute to and from work.  I really enjoy it and there are some days where I just sit in the parking lot at work while I’m getting all teared up over a Story Corps story.  Contrast that with the fact that the most played song on my iPod is “Peter Piper” by Run DMC and you’ll understand a little more about what makes me tick.

Anywho… I didn’t get to hear this interview live but I ran across it on the web.  The Wage Gap Between Moms, Other Working Women : NPR.  In this interview host Michel Martin discusses the gap between working mothers and other working women with University of New Mexico  economist Kate Krause; Dina Bakst of A Better Balance, a workplace rights organization; and Dawn Porter, founder of Trilogy Films and a mother of two.

Read moreIt’s Not All About the Money, Right? Moms earn up to 14 percent less than women who don’t have children