When is it the right time in a woman’s career to have children? Is there a right time, and can women (dad’s too) still have a career? (I am very much counting on it).
To set the scene, I am a 30 year old woman who recently finished my MBA currently working in sales for a leadership consultancy firm. I would say I’m career driven, and really like what I do but I am only really at the start of my career journey. I am getting married next year, and the first question everyone asks is… When are you having babies? I would like to have them straight away but what does that mean for my career? Is there a right time for me to have a baby/babies, will others judge?
One of the best articles I have read recently around this subject is by Katharine Zaleski’s . In this article Katharine confesses how she used to criticize working mothers, and mentions about firing women before they ‘got pregnant’. I have also heard from friends that they have taken off their engagement rings so that companies don’t know they are engaged, as they felt companies wouldn’t employ them if they thought they were getting married soon.
Then you read about superstar women like Marissa Mayer taking 2 weeks maternity leave, is this what women need to do to ensure they stay on the career path? In reality she has a nanny who can help her out, with rising childcare fees if you have more than 2 children it often isn’t cost effective for both parents to go back to work.
When talking to working mothers (and fathers) they often feel like they can’t give 100% to their job and 100% to their child. Why not? In this day and age surely working parents can have it all? I think a large part is companies setting the environment to retain working parents and top talent.
What do companies need to do to retain mothers/fathers who want to give 100% to home and 100% to work?
- Create a culture where people don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for flexibility or taking time off for their children.
- Managers need to have open/honest conversations about supporting new parents.
- Focus on results/productivity rather than the time spent. Just because some people work extra hours, it doesn’t mean they are more productive.
- Make it easier for fathers to have time off to support their children too.
- Be flexible – This is give and take from both sides. For example if you have a 35 hour week, make those hours count for work and for home life. We work in a global world with multiple different time zones, it would benefit the company and home life to flex the working hours throughout the day/night.
- Allow working from home days.
- Flexible benefits – Childcare help.
- Social events during breakfast meetings or work lunches rather than evening events.
With a supporting partner, and a company who are willing to look at the work you do rather than when you do the hours I think women can have it all. It would be great to hear of your experiences in the workplace, having a baby is daunting enough without the worry of your career.