Working women with families: Are you getting what you deserve at work?
I once responded to a concern from a woman who worked for a government agency. She reported winning several awards a year, but believed she was not being promoted because she had special needs children. “The employer felt [her] 'family responsibilities' might interfere with [her] ability to handle increased responsibility." She felt burnt out at work and stressed at home.
Sure, if an employer does something really egregious, you might spend a lot of time and money in a legal battle. But I doubt this would enhance your life!
Women especially struggle with work and family issues. They have concerns, but employers have concerns as well. Having been on the hiring end of business, I have often considered potential for pregnancy (and maternity leave), sick children (time off from work and productivity), and work interruptions (spouses, schools, sick children). These possibilities may be unofficially and unconsciously factored into a final decision for hire or promotion, trust me.
1. Realistically Assess Your Abilities, Goals, And Family Needs
This is sometimes difficult to do. Nowadays, women are barraged with media and societal messages that push them to climb the corporate ladder and demand what they're due.
I know many working moms who have left the corporate zoo for better quality of life in a "lower-level" position. Most readily tell me it was the best decision they ever made and they wish they had done it sooner. Many share they worked more hours than they needed to in the hopes of climbing the proverbial ladder only to realize in hindsight they never had a chance of climbing up one more rung.
2. Find A Position Within Your Abilities In A Workplace Culture That's Comfortable
You can tell a lot during a job interview, but it still behooves you to ask about the company culture. How was your reception upon arrival? Formal? Warm? What are you comfortable with?
If you do have special considerations at home, try to gauge the employer's tolerance by asking questions that might clue you in to whether or not the workplace culture or your supervisor's approach would be a good fit for you.
3. Talk With Your Spouse And Family About Your Desires At Work And Home
It helps to have a clear discussion before something happens or there is an issue. Think about it now.
Will your current position be a match for you three years from now when you plan to start having children? If not, what job will be? How much unhappiness should you expect to have at work and feel like it is worth what you are being paid? What are your options?
These are all things to consider and talk about now.
4. Share Concerns From Work Rather Than Try To Handle It Yourself
If something is causing stress at work, don't be tempted to internalize it and keep from worrying your spouse. This does not work.
Even if you can pull it off now, you won't be able to handle it in the long run. You will find that talking about your concerns will strengthen your relationship and relieve stress at home. In truth, it will likely relieve your stress at work as well.
5. If Possible, Share Concerns From Work With Your Supervisor
Your supervisor may not be approachable if your situation is tenuous. However, in most cases, they are.
Take the time to identify your concerns. Write them down. Say them out loud. How will you present them to your boss? Actually write out full sentences of what you will say and practice voicing your concerns out loud.
It may feel silly, but it will help you control your emotions when you are actually in front of your supervisor. Remind yourself that it's "just business" and work very hard to keep emotion from clouding your concerns.
6. Don't Wait To Seek Another Position If Your Current Position Is Not A Good Match
Consider ending your employment on your terms if your situation is untenable. Your family and your well-being come first.
Sometimes the type of treatment you receive stems from the company culture and sometimes it is from your supervisor or upper management. You may be able to figure out the real agenda and who is responsible, but it won't change the bottom line: this job is not a good fit for you and your family.
Once you accept the need for a change and plan to do so, you will find that the stress and pressure you are feeling will disappear almost immediately.
We hope all you working women out there found these tips to be helpful. Whatever career challenges you face, we'll be right here guiding you along the way!
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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