Women are exactly the same as men except for one thing.
When they have children, women are more likely than men to pull back from their career goals.
Men continue to pursue their goals of career advancement while women tend to pull back to allow children to play a bigger role in their day. Even with excellent day care services, women professionals may feel less inclined to take on special projects, put themselves in a position for more challenging roles or even take themselves out of the running for a promotion or transfer.
Even if this is not the case, men in decision making roles within the organization make assumptions that women professionals will not be available for advancement once they have children thereby taking them consciously or unconsciously out of the running.
So how do business women avoid this phenomena or work within the constraints they put on their schedules once they have children?
In a recent article published in Forbes, the author Geri Stengal, talks about the issue and offers two suggested paths:
Teach employees at every level how to appropriately capture flexibility to manage their unique work+life fit, day-to-day and at major life transitions. And show them how to collaborate, coordinate and communicate in a way that considers the needs of their colleagues and the business. This is a modern skill set that we all need, but most of us don’t have.
Position work flexibility as a core business strategy that adapts as the goals and objectives of the organization change. This means that flexibility is not a stand-alone program, policy or benefit. It is a process-based, solutions-oriented, ongoing conversation that becomes part of your organization’s cultural DNA and enables you to hire, engage and retain the best people, service global customers, manage resources and save money.
With these two ideas in mind – if you are a woman looking to advance your career but also are juggling children and family, look for those companies that are supportive of a flexible work strategy for their employees.
Fortune published their annual report of the Top Businesses to Work for and the list is available to sort based on a few attributes; number of women, turn over and job growth but also by work/life balance.
Here is the list for 2013 of the top businesses that currently have a work/life balance business strategy in place – the list is led by Google.
The point to take away from this discussion is that once a woman hits a point in her life that she wants to have children, that doesn’t mean she needs to pull away from her career goals.
LEAN IN to the opportunities and seek out companies and positions which offer you the best of both worlds. The world is an ever changing, evolving place and the best companies understand and support that.
Find the right fit for you and your life so that you aren’t giving up on your career aspirations in favor of your family. It is possible to have both.