HRU Recruiting Manager, Amanda Rowe, and I go back and forth on the validity that Parenthood is the new glass ceiling in Corporate America:
(Tim) There was once a time I was really passionate about “Glass Ceilings” – I prepared my Master’s Thesis for my HR program based on this concept, that women were not getting enough opportunity at leadership levels as compared to similarly qualified male peers. That was about 15 years ago. I still think we have a gender based glass ceiling in our society – but I get a bigger feeling now that we have a new glass ceiling in corporate America and it’s “Parenthood” – maybe that’s just because I’m a parent and not a woman! What do you think Rowe, your one of each?
(Amanda) – I think we have shattered the glass ceiling, but at what kind of price? I struggle everyday wondering if I am being the best mom I can be. I am in a “leadership” role that I am proud to be in, but at the end of every day I still have the same duties as all other moms out there that maybe work part-time or stay at home (which is a whole other job)! I still have runny noses to wipe, sick kids to attend to, a husband to make happy, school work to finish… want me to continue? Am I short changing my kids not being able to take them to “mommy and me” play dates that are during the week at 10am, while I am meeting with a client or in a meeting? For me, the answer is no. There are many reasons why I say this… to name a few, I am providing for my children’s future, and maybe a little vacation now and again. Times are changing and fathers are a lot more involved taking over duties like cleaning the house, laundry, packing lunches etc. (Ok, so maybe we overlook the white shirts that have now turned a light shade of pink.) Companies are also adapting more with flex time and telecommuting. The bottom line is that most mothers value the time spent with our children, for us “working mothers” it is more about the qualitytime. So, I am leaving guilt at the door and realizing there are only 24 hours in a day. And every once in a while I may try to indulge myself with watching something other than Spongebob! So Tim, how many shirts have you turned pink?
(Tim) Rowena, Pink Shirts!? Heck, no – but that’s only because I send my shirts out to the cleaners! I have to agree with you, the family make-up today is much different than when our parents were raising us. My Dad never did anything around the house, even when my Mom worked – my wife has different expectations of me as a husband and a father. I think woman in the work force still have it harder – but – (there’s always a but!) I think there is still a culture in corporate America that doesn’t let Dad’s today (the younger Dad’s out there) really be the Dad they want to be, and that their working wife expects them to be. If I leave early to get my kids from school, there is no way I’ll get promoted (that is a sign of weakness, lack of loyalty, etc.). If a woman leaves early to pick up the kids, she is doing “the right thing”, balancing both being a Mom and a career. Dad’s are looked at differently in trying to balance – unless it’s leaving early to coach football! So, how do we change these attitudes in the work place?
(Amanda) First off… Rowena Tim? Does everyone need to know one of many nicknames I have around here!?! I think that we are getting there. Not only do working moms and dads typically struggle to find that balance, but we also struggle with not allowing top management to think that since I am a parent that will hinder my capability and commitment to the company. Let’s face it… a company who feels the loyalty of their employees by having an expectation that he or she would choose their job over their family is NOT a company I would want to work for, and I think most will agree. As younger executives fill higher level positions we will continue to see that shift to balance work and family. The precedence is set by top management to set a “good” example, male or female. With technology today moms and dads can leave a little early to make it their child’s t-ball game but still have the capability to get work done from home. So really do we need everyone working until 7:00pm at night to prove dedication? My answer is “no” but finding the right balance is key! I recently took my kids to get ice cream and as they were eating their ice cream cones they were talking and laughing while an older couple looked on. As this older couple left the gentlemen looked at me and said “Enjoy every minute of this. I miss my kids when they were this age”. As I looked at my kids with their messy faces and cones dripping all over their shirts I laughed. In this fast pace world where working parents are going through the motions to try and make a mark in the world, it sometimes takes a complete stranger to help point out to us to stop and enjoy the moment. Our kids are young only once enjoy the time you have with them now! Find your balance.
(Tim) Hold on a minute - I need to wipe away the tears...Ok, let's be real for a minute - companies say they care about balance, but they don't - it's a marketing pitch to get the best talent - they care about results. If you're getting results, you'll have all the balance you need - if you suck, you don't get balance. But I have to agree with you that companies executives, today, do think workers with young kids, especially, will struggle to perform in high level jobs. It might not be right - just like the original glass ceiling for woman - but it's a reality in today's world!