One of my co-workers is expecting a baby in the fall. She is a good 25+ years younger than I am. I still remember the work and baby stuff and want to do all that I can so that she enjoys everything that comes with a new one without any of the stress that non-aware companies put on women. The needs of new dads were ignored completely, too. In my experience, the things that caused stress were not intentional – they were due to a lack of diversity of experience or sometimes simple ignorance.
I imagine how different it would have been for me had there been any new moms in leadership positions when I was having my first, second and then a third child while also wanting to do a great job at work and get enough sleep so that I could enunciate during meetings. I got lucky – my boss was a new dad, so he was much more aware than others. Still, he simply didn’t get all the components of being a new mom and thought that it was appropriate to pressure me to ‘come back into the office’ when I was managing my people remotely and not missing a meeting or our numbers. He was not focused on the outcomes but on getting back to his version of normal.
Once you’re a parent, there is no going back to how it used to be. You think about everything from electrical outlets and stairs to strangers and sugar differently. Office environments that lack diversity at the leadership levels will lose great people when they set expectations that new parents behave, at least during working hours, like they are not obsessively in love with this new little being.
Now that working remotely has become a norm and people are no longer chastised for the barking dog or doorbell, I’m hopeful that more parents of young children will experience not only acceptance but sincere appreciation for their roles as parents and peers. Getting to that norm will only happen as companies add more diversity at the leadership level. And, if companies don’t have it already, they will benefit greatly from getting outside opinions from people who have had whatever experience an executive team is reviewing.
Imagine the positive results on corporate culture if boards, leadership teams and anyone in a decision-making role stopped and said “I don’t have any experience with XYZPDQ; let’s get some advice from someone who does” before they implemented a new policy. Speaking of which, I had my kids 25+ years ago, so am asking the new, younger parents to help me understand what’s important to them so that we exhibit awareness and get it right, showing them that we care and appreciate their perspective.
– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO