High-level working mama: getting ready for babe
Many, many of us have been there before, preparing to tell our employers about expecting a baby. I was nervous telling my manager this most recent time, even though I knew how family-friendly and family-supportive my organizational culture was/is. Still, it is hard. It is hard to plan for a several-week or several-month absence of any employee. It can be even more difficult when that employee manages others or oversees programs. An urbanMama recently emailed about her not-so-positive experience in sharing the news of her expanding family:
When getting prepared to tell my boss about my pregnancy, I was excited and optimistic. I was as prepared as I thought I could be. I had a very professional letter written that clearly and humbly outlined my requests for parental leave and for how I would handle having my work covered. The reaction was not what I expected; there were a handful of what could easily be considered discriminatory statements about how we would deal with things. The possibility of this reaction did not cross my mind. I anticipated that there could be concern about how we would get things done, but not any insinuation that the work could *not* get done. I was especially shocked that this was coming from a woman, who is a mother, who is also in a high-powered career.
This is a director level/administrator position and I won’t have been in it for terribly long by the time I am expected to deliver. I am highly committed to my work and have ZERO doubt that I can develop a plan that will ensure the needs of my organization are met. Women do it all the time and the world continues to turn. In this case, it is not as easy as saying “that is discrimination and it is illegal!” It is a promotion that was scheduled to happen in the next month or two and the position had not been officially offered (but I assure you was a done deal up until this point). I have been counting on it for quite some time while the program was being created – it is not something I can just walk away from. I imagine some would also say “why would you want to work for someone like that?!” Well, it is also not that simple – this person has been an amazing influence on my life thus far and as I said, this reaction was highly unexpected. I am hoping that it was a knee-jerk reaction and my boss will let it digest and do the right thing.
In the meantime, I want to do all that I can to secure this position [even while pregnant], which includes developing a feasible maternity leave work plan proposal, in advance of actually securing the position.
Are there any executive level administrator/director-type mamas out there who can help with recommendations for how work at the top level gets done while you are out for a few months when there are little to no people to “cover” for you? Did you hire a temp? Can you find adequate temps? Would you be willing to share your work plan proposal? I could potentially see a model where a handful of administrators from other departments pitch in to cover various pieces. I would love to connect directly, so please send me an email directly if you are so inclined. Otherwise, I look forward to your comments below.