Friday, 26 April 2013

Executive Mums Forum: And sometimes, we have to be willing to see if we can break the rules.

One of us was worried that during maternity leave absence, her male colleagues might try to take over her job.  “So I asked to come back from maternity leave after 3 months, instead of 6, and then use the extra 3 months spread out over the next several months, taking 1-2 days off a week.  My boss said yes, but it was against HR policy.  It worked really well.  I was happy, my boss was happy, and at the end when I resumed regular hours, I was ready to do it.  My boss asked me to tell HR about how well it worked."

  • Another woman one of us knows asked for 3 days a week plus all school holidays!  'Outrageous!' we all thought.  Guess what?  She got it!
  • If you’re good, you’ll get it.  
  • Victoria: We note that all of our mums present today work in financial services.   Things may be different elsewhere?
  • So many women don’t ask because we think we won’t get it.  We need to be brave!
  • At the same time, some male colleagues get jealous at the opportunities women have.  Positive actions to promote females before they've done their due work doesn't do us any favours.
  • Sometimes we don’t know what to ask for.  Can we talk openly about these factors of childcare, working hours, being the breadwinner, etc?  We need to give women who face these challenges as new mothers some clear conversation. We can mentor them. 
  • Flexitime women are the most committed employees!  You give them 2 centimetres of flexibility and they are devoted!
  • Companies could offer a mentoring scheme for returning to work mothers—by other working mothers.
  • Different child life cycles (nursery, school, adolescent, teens) have different parenting needs.  
  • Companies aren't always honest with you about what to expect when you come back from maternity leave or ask what you’re ready to tackle and if you’re worried about coming back.  They’re too worried they will imply that you’re not ready.  As mums we need to help each other deal with coming back to work.  
What worked well about this session?
  • It’s nice to be able to share.  Being an Exec Mum can be really lonely!  
  • It’s good to have people outside of our work groups and in other companies who are like us.  
  • I go to “Mums coffees” on my day off and after 90 minutes I can’t stand it anymore!  I really don’t care about discussing which car seat is right, or if my child is ahead or behind the others!  I need to work and challenge my brain!  (widespread agreement)  It’s so good to say that and have others understand and be like me.

Victoria Hall, Executive Coach
Founder of Talent Futures